elderly-couple.jpgLikely by Monday, the CDC will increase its Listeria illness and death count of 55 and eight. By Monday afternoon the counted illnesses will certainly be well over 60, and I expect deaths to be a dozen and perhaps more. Of course, there are likely many others sickened who will never be counted, and others who died or miscarried who will never be tallied.

So far I have counted 2 dead in Colorado, 2 dead in Kansas, 1 dead in Maryland, 1 dead in Missouri, 1 dead in Nebraska, 4 deaths in New Mexico, and 1 dead in Oklahoma. Surviving families in Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska and Oklahoma have retained us, and we have spent more than a few hours with them hearing their sad stories. Three other clients cling to life in ICU’s in other states. Several others who survived are either in a rehab or recovering at home – and wondering how far their health will come back. Uniformly, you hear of a horrible infectious illness as the Listeria bacterium made it’s way into the blood stream and spinal fluid. You also hear of the shock of nearly dying or watching your spouse or parent die before their time.

And, I spent a quite day on Friday with my mom and dad who are both in their 80’s, living together on the small farm where I was raised. Watching them care for each other, I could not help but think how they, and I, would have responded if one or both of them had consumed the Jensen Farms/Frontera cantaloupe.

So, I really was not in much of a mood to get this email from someone with the tag line – “organicfarmer” – left a comment at Food Safety News:

It’s really sad that farms and farmers are getting the brunt of this. I am sad these people died, but median age of 78…. give me a break. I my opinion there is no possible way to make all food safe for all people. I grow food, take extreme precautions to keep the farm as clean from pathogens as possible, but these bacteria are everywhere in the soil. Advances in science are a double edged sword. People have succumbed from so-called food poisons since the beginning of time. It’s probably good common sense to not eat raw foods if you’re old or have a compromised immune system. Now pathogenic bacteria have been found inside the cells of lettuce. No amount of washing will ‘clean’ it.

It is stunning frankly. Yes, the non-Jensen Farms/Frontera cantaloupe growers do deserve our support, but the comment “but median age of 78…. give me a break…. It’s probably good common sense to not eat raw foods if you’re old or have a compromised immune system.”

I wish “organicfarmer” had spent time on the phone with my clients, or spent the day with my parents. “Organicfarmer,” people should not become disabled, die or miscarry because they ate a cantaloupe.