Watch those salads

This article about the top foods linked to food-borne illnesses is worth reading if you’re going on holiday, particularly if you’re going anywhere with large scale industrial food growing and processing (like, oh, Canada or the US?). The items on the FDA’s top-10 list are not always what you’d think (potatoes?? ice cream???):

Leafy greens: 363 outbreaks involving 13,568 reported cases of illness.
Eggs: 352 outbreaks with 11,163 reported cases of illness.
Tuna: 268 outbreaks with 2,341 reported cases of illness.
Oysters: 132 outbreaks with 3,409 reported cases of illness.
Potatoes: 108 outbreaks with 3,659 reported cases of illness.
Cheese: 83 outbreaks with 2,761 reported cases of illness.
Ice Cream: 74 outbreaks with 2,594 reported cases of illness.
Tomatoes: 31 outbreaks with 3,292 reported cases of illness.
Sprouts: 31 outbreaks with 2,022 reported cases of illness.
Berries: 25 outbreaks with 3,397 reported cases of illness.

As the article makes clear, the problem is with the scale of manufacture and processing, not inherent in the foods. Illnesses are usually carried by cross-contamination through equipment and handling, or unsafe storage that typically results from using poorly trained (and badly paid) factory workers. These same foods might be perfectly safe if obtained from small organic growers or artisans working with local, fresh produce.

Here at the Banff Centre we are enjoying many salads, but following them with perhaps too many desserts.

It is all fuel for the writing of course, and last night we had some introductory readings, with more to follow on Friday. Three of the faculty read: Caroline Adderson, Sid Marty and Stan Dragland. A measure of the quality, I think, that fourteen readers did their five minutes each and the time flew by. Of course not having a watch might have helped with that…

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