Quiz: Do you think like the FDA on food safety?

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) was mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act to provide “science-based” standards for production of safe food. The rule that most concerns our farm is open for comment through this Friday November 15; the rule is known as “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” We’re not at all impressed with it or the supposed science behind it, and we’ve written up a lengthy (but still not comprehensive) comment to submit to the FDA via regulations.gov (assuming the site starts working again; it seems to have picked up a bug from healthcare.gov). We challenge readers to this quiz about the proposed produce rule, which highlights just a few of the features that we consider to be most astonishing.

1)      The FDA defines what soil amendments it considers safest and least safe by defining the waiting period between application and harvest. Try ranking the following according to the FDA, bonus points for knowing/guessing the application interval:

  • a) Manure from feedlot-raised (overcrowded, antibiotic-fed, unhealthy) animals that has been heated and treated with ammonia–and that is at least momentarily a microbial blank slate waiting for microbial opportunists of unknown character to colonize it.
  • b) Raw manure from feedlot-raised (overcrowded, antibiotic-fed, unhealthy) animals.
  • c) Raw manure from pastured animals (such as our chickens or goats).
  • d) Compost made from bedding from pastured animals (such as our chickens and goats).
  • e) Treated human feces (and all the medications and other sketchy stuff that comes along with the sewage).

2)      How many illnesses attributable to produce has the FDA documented in an average year and how many does the FDA forecast that this rule will prevent?

  • a)      Documented: ~2 million/year. To be prevented: ~1.75 million/year.
  • b)      Documented: ~1,000/year. To be prevented: ~1.75 million/year.
  • c)      Documented: ~100,000/year. To be prevented: ~50,000/year.
  • d)      Documented: ~50,000/year. To be prevented: ~100,000/year.

3)      Which of the following items does the FDA consider to be “rarely consumed raw” (and thus exempt from  the practices that the FDA considers to be necessary for safe produce production)? Hint: 7 of the following are on the FDA’s “exhaustive” list of produce that is “rarely consumed raw.”

  • a) black beans
  • b) kale
  • c) chestnuts
  • d) water chestnuts
  • e) bamboo shoots
  • f) thyme
  • g) beets
  • h) figs
  • i) kidney beans
  • j) tomatillos
  • k) ginger root
  • l) garlic
  • m) sweet corn

Answers below the break.

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CSA distribution #26 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Thursday November 14 and Monday November 18.This is the second-to-last share of the season, which will end with the Thanksgiving share distributed to EVERYONE on Monday November 25. It’s pretty clear at this point that these last two shares will be quite diverse, ending what’s been a very productive season on a fitting note. If you’re planning to travel but not cook for Thanksgiving, keep in mind that pretty much everything expected to be in that share should store in your fridge or on your counter just fine until you get back. Continue reading

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CSA distribution #24 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday October 28 and Thursday October 31. We’ve now loosely scripted out the remaining shares and we’re simply hoping for reasonable weather through Thanksgiving. We expect shares to be smaller from now on, after many weeks of overflowing bags and super-abundant produce, but there should still be 8-9 items in each share (plus herbs). The farm is as busy as ever as we continue to manage the transition into fall while getting next year’s garlic planted. Continue reading

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Planning the final four CSA shares

With four shares to go in our 2013 CSA season, we’ve spent some time discussing the remaining produce and how to best divide it among these remaining distributions. At this point most crops are stable, just waiting to be harvested and/or stored until used, with a few exceptions. Here’s a rough look at how we hope the season plays out. We thought this might be useful both for meal planning, and as a look under the hood of CSA management. Continue reading

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CSA distribution #23 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday October 21 and Thursday October 24. There are five shares remaining in the season (including this one), culminating in the Thanksgiving share going out to everyone on Monday 11/25. Remember to consult our online calendar if you are uncertain of the schedule. The Fall Harvest Celebration is coming up on November 2nd as well: please be sure to complete  the RSVP survey we sent out, to help us plan this major event properly. This is your best remaining chance to visit and take part in the farm this season, and we hope to make it a well-attended and thoroughly worthwhile event. Continue reading

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Bird list & natural events, September 2013

September was extraordinarily busy, but also mostly glorious on the weather front. Temperatures were stable to slightly warm, putting off any threat of early and unwanted frost. Though it started as dry as previous months, we finally started receiving meaningful rainfall and ended up above average for the first time since May (4.46″, over the 3.87″ average at the Columbia gage). It’s a measure of just how dry things were, that after receiving 2.76″ overnight in mid-September, our stream never flowed and there were virtually no puddles on the farm. The parched soil and vegetation sucked all the water up as fast as it fell. But this month as a whole positioned us for a lovely fall. Continue reading

CSA distribution #22 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday October 7 and Thursday October 10. The week after (Oct 14 & 17) will be a break, during which we’ll celebrate our anniversary and continue to catch up on farm work, then we’ll be back to a weekly schedule of deliveries for a few weeks. At this point, it appears that we should have plenty of produce to do a distribution for the last week of October (the 28th & 31st), a week that we had initially marked as uncertain. With a couple weeks of visiting help adding to our workforce, we’re currently working hard on fall cleanup and frost preparation, enjoying the sensation of being ahead of the curve on this for once (thank the pleasant weather and late frost as well). Under the circumstances, this will be a minimalist newsletter. Continue reading

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