Dennis Avery and Alex Avery of the Indianapolis Star report that it’s a bad moment for believers in the mystical wonders of organic and natural foods. Deadly E. coli bacteria, lurking in spinach from one of the biggest organic farms in America, just killed one woman and hospitalized at least 29 other people with kidney failure. In all, the contaminated spinach sickened nearly 200, in at least 23 states and Canada.
Meanwhile, several California kids are on kidney dialysis with permanent organ damage from the same virulent strain of E. coli O157: H7 after consuming raw, unpasteurized milk or colostrum from the Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno, Calif.
Tragically, the victims were all seeking greater food safety and the promised health benefits of vegetables and milk produced the "old-fashioned way."
Earthbound Farms, which grew the contaminated spinach, is being sued by a shocked family of organic believers in Ohio. Three family members were sickened, and one daughter has permanent kidney damage.
Earthbound Farms advertises that it sells "Food for Life," and says "It’s just plain healthy to include lots of organic vegetables in your diet." That certainly rings hollow today.
Now the farm’s parent company has recalled huge batches of spinach sold all over the country under a variety of labels. "We will do whatever is necessary to help protect the health and safety of the consumers," said an Earthbound spokesperson.
Does that mean Earthbound will stop fertilizing its leafy vegetables with cow manure? Most conventional farmers fertilize their food crops with "chemical" fertilizer, and put their livestock manure on feed crops like corn. Organic farmers reject chemical fertilizer. Instead, they compost raw cattle manure for some weeks, hoping that will kill any dangerous organisms that could contaminate the food. Sometimes it doesn’t.