The Omega Brunch

blind faith in your leaders, or in anyone, will get you killed... not spinach
I felt a little bit like Charlton Heston this morning, cooking up the last bit of pre-apocalyptic fresh produce while zombies beat on my shutters. Yes, I ate the dreaded spinach. Worse than that, I ate from a package that was not only expired but had been opened before the… Well, what is it? It’s not a ban. The FDA is calling it an “advisory.” In any case, it’s been a pretty effective way to get people to stop eating spinach.

I’m pissed off about this. I like spinach. And this reaction is simply not good science. One person died. Somewhere around 120 people got sick. You know what that sounds like to me? A moderate heat wave, a small blizzard. Do we close the freeways in Texas when Minneapolis gets a snowstorm?

Presumably (we’re still woefully short on facts) this was all from eating fresh, raw spinach that somehow came in contact with animal (possibly including human) feces. To some extent this “stuff” is just everywhere. Face it, it’s a shit-filled planet. When you’re a terrestrial omnivore or herbivore (meaning you eat off the ground at least occasionally), ingesting some amount of e. coli is just an occupational hazard. Besides, this stuff is already in your body right now! But if you really want to avoid swallowing more of it, and I bet you do, we it's a damned bacteria, just fucking cook it now have a high-tech, two-pronged technological solution for this that’s only about three quarters of a million years old: it’s called rinsing and cooking. That’s what I did. Is the real reason for this ban that we can’t trust people to cook their food? Are we going to ban chicken and hamburger next? Probably not, they have great lobbies.

I hesitate to admit this for fear of other spinach lovers showing up over here, but I have a whole other unopened package of this stuff. I plan to eat spinach three or four more times this week. Am I going to be the last American eating spinach? How ridiculous is that?

The fear is palpable (isn’t it always these days?). I was in HEB tonight buying lettuce and watched a young(er than me) couple perusing the bagged lettuce section. Their conversation went something like this:

He: “Is that the one?”
She: “Fresh Express, I think so.”
He: “They’re all Fresh Express.”
She: “Let’s get something else.”
He: “Why not this?” (indicating the whole romaine heads I had just picked from)
She: “No, let’s skip it.”

scramble, or the terrorists win
Please note: there was no spinach for sale; Fresh Express has not been implicated so far; I both ate the romaine lettuce and served it to company tonight.

Just another nail in the coffin of the American colon.

3 thoughts on “The Omega Brunch”

  1. Strangely, the content of this article you linked to has completely changed now. The toddler death is only briefly mentioned. I read the original, however, and here’s my takeaway–long after all the warnings were issued and spinach was hard to come by, the parents knowingly fed raw spinach they felt was questionable (the father said as much) to a 2-year-old. I’m pretty sure my blog post didn’t recommend negligent homicide of children. Since the post was actually about adults making good decisions, or being unable to, this event sort of proves my point. It should be noted that raw spinach is a somewhat contentious food under the best of conditions. Raw spinach is difficult for the human body to extract nutrients from and some reports indicate it may actually leach calcium from the body. In other words, even before the e. coli threat, cooking spinach was a good idea. Given the bitterness and abrasive mouth feel–and remember, I like spinach–the choice to eat raw spinach is more of a health-fashion statement than anything else. A raw spinach smoothie for a two-year-old in particular sounds like parents who are trying a little too hard to be hip and crunchy (while remaining dangerously ignorant of the relevant nutritional and biological issues). Also, infants and children are by definition immunologically immature, so extra care and consideration should always be taken in deciding which foods to serve them raw (hence the advice not to give infants honey–which people do, again, because of the perception of healthiness and purity it conveys).

  2. I was actually kind of kidding with that link as I do agree with you. I love spinach and am still eating it(cooked). This entire thing has carried on long enough now that it’s become a bit disturbing. I honestly expected this to be a blip in the news, a few hundred tons of spinach wasted and on our way again.

    This morning, I read this NYT article and it really made me shudder. For some reason I had viewed the “sickness” akin to a really bad stomach virus.

    I agree wash and cook your vegetables. However, in light of this article I’m trending toward the view that this isn’t as much of an over reaction as I initially thought.

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