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Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

Tomato Tragedy

Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008, at 9:27 PM

Summertime in Missouri is tomato time! I remember when I brought my first-born child down from Alaska in '74 to show him off to the relatives, all I wanted to eat was my mother-in-law's fresh tomatoes from the garden. Tomatoes and cottage cheese, bacon 'n tomato sandwiches, tomatoes in salad - just tomatoes and sweet corn, till it came out my ears! My husband and I hadn't had a good tomato since we left Missouri in '69.

If I were a tomato-grower right now, I'd be just sick about what's happened this year with the salmonella scare. According to the latest figures, the nation's tomato industry has lost $100 million since the outbreak which began in April, sickening 1,220 people in 42 states.

The U.S. Food and Drug Aministration still hasn't figured out where the salmonella originated. Now they're recommending that the elderly and people with weak immune systems avoid eating fresh jalapenos and serranos and any food containing them, such as fresh salsa. They say that the tomatoes are okay.

It really doesn't seem fair. Growers in California, Florida and Georgia, the top three tomato-producing states, test their tomatoes regularly for salmonella and e-coli, and their crops were never under suspicion, but they're suffering the damages anyway.

"It's a government-made disaster," said Melanie Horwath, fourth generation tomato grower in the Salinas Valley. Her family's business sustained crop losses of $2 million. "The government has a responsiblity to only provide facts, not idle speculation. They're going to put us all out of business."

Growers are wondering why the trace-back is taking so long, when the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 requires food-handling companies to keep detailed records allowing tracing of food through the distribution chain.

"We know in the tomato industry we are required to hold these records," sayd Ed Beckman, president of the Californian Tomato Farmers. "If there was someone that is involved in the handling of any produce item that is not doing their job, we need to have an understanding that that's the case. If that's not the case, then why did it take so long to come to the conclusion that FDA has come to?"

Both salmonella and E. coli bacteria enter food through mammal feces, and can be transferred to produce by animals, humans and water.

Because of this animal connection, the FDA is trying to crack down on the proximity of animals to the produce farms. They've even suggested "clean strips" around the fields, barriers created by herbicides. One cantaloupe grower indicated that the FDA was requiring them to have all telephone lines rerouted, so that no birds are able to perch above the crops. Other growers are building huge fences to keep out wildlife.

Wow, whatever happened to life down on the farm??

Our world just continues to get stranger and stranger! What are things coming to, when you can't even eat a tomato without worrying about getting sick?? Maybe it's a good thing my mother-in-law isn't alive to see what a mess we've gotten ourselves into! It would be beyond her comprehension.

As for me, Paul Corbin brought me some produce Friday, and my goat friend Emma came by the office with tomatoes. Makes me glad I'm back in Missouri!

Eat local, folks!


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I've had ripe tomatoes this summer, but I'm hungry for fried green tomatoes!

I can't even imagine $2 million worth of tomatoes!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Jul 19, 2008, at 9:57 PM

I've had a few ripe tomatoes so far this summer, but it's not enough. More, more, I want more. If you don't make it to the farmer's market in my area by 8:00 you don't get any tomatoes. Alas, I was on my way to pick blueberries at 8:00 so I missed the tomatoes.

It reminds me of a John Denver song about there's nothing like "love and home-grown tomatoes."

Yeah, GL. Fried Green Tomatoes - both to eat and the movie. Tawanda!!!!

-- Posted by Ducky on Sat, Jul 19, 2008, at 11:04 PM

Sounds like another GWBush problem. The guy has screwed up everything including tomatoes. Glad the Mexican Restaurants in town and all the people eating their salsa ignore crap like this.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Sat, Jul 19, 2008, at 11:17 PM

Our govt is inadequate, enough said.

Goat Lady, the older gentleman at Bloomfield on Thursdays has some of the best green tomatoes I have had in years, $2.00 for a large sack. last Thursday I split a bag with an older lady that didnt want that much. Watch out for some of the so-called home grown ripe ones, I had to toss 5 of 7 last week from a seller. Perhaps my fault, I should have looked further.

-- Posted by changedname on Sun, Jul 20, 2008, at 7:33 AM

Our govt. is our govt......maybe we are a nation of whiners.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Sun, Jul 20, 2008, at 7:40 AM

MD, thanks for the tomato subject,,, not that it matters but I think I'll take a vacation for awhile,, seems every post by you folks turns into a 'darned political debate' and I know that wasnt your original intent.

Sayonara for a bit, good luck and blessings to you all.

-- Posted by changedname on Mon, Jul 21, 2008, at 8:10 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Sorry, Dexterite. I notice a few more of our regulars are taking a similar vacation. I hope to at least swing my blog back to safe ground.

Update as of July 21 - ABC News: A fresh jalepeno pepper grown in Mexico and processed in Texas has tested positive for the same strain of salmonella that's made 1,251 people sick since April. There have been 229 hospitalizations and two deaths.

Tomatoes have been cleared.

How do you think I'm going to get along

Without you when your gone

Took me for every thing that had

Then kicked me out on my own.

Lyrics from Another One Bites The Dust.

As Bon Scott says, don't let the blog door hit you on the way out.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Mon, Jul 21, 2008, at 9:27 PM

thats the kind of response I KNEW would be coming.

-- Posted by changedname on Mon, Jul 21, 2008, at 9:50 PM

I agree, dexterite. It just isn't the same...I do now, however, have a real craving for tomatoes...

-- Posted by letseatcake633 on Mon, Jul 21, 2008, at 10:06 PM

Our notorious cake lady switching over to tomatoes: What is this world coming to?

Hang in there, guys. This, too, will pass.

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Jul 21, 2008, at 10:13 PM

dexterite didn't leave very long. He was only gone for an hour and 40 minutes. That's a long vacation though if you have never taken one.

-- Posted by BonScott on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 12:01 AM

Listen...can you guys hear that? I'm playing the world's smallest violen for Dexterite.

-- Posted by Jim Morrison on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 12:46 AM

letseat633cakes is right......not the same, never will be.

Goat....we are always hangin'....hangin' tough.

Jimmy...were there any violins at Cruefest?

Staley....any advice for dexterite?

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 7:30 AM

Dexterite, in our government pervasive society a lot of these topics can't be separated from some sort of political implication. Commercial tomato growers and distributors were decimated by the FDA when there was no evidence they were causing salmonella. If one believes in the acceptance of responsibility, then the feds should provide 100% reimbursement to every tomato grower, distributor and retail seller harmed by the baseless warning to avoid eating tomatoes. I don't see that as political, just common sense.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 8:14 PM

my advice would be not to throw tomatoes at a man when he is down...dexterite needed a breather after that GWB comment. The Dtown blog arena can be rough at times and you never know what's coming.

You say tomato and I say...

-- Posted by layne staley on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 8:54 PM

To*mah*toe

Dexterite is checking out. FootJoyBoy has all the answers. Just ask him.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 9:06 PM

You guys are posting on a TOMATO blog! Don't you feel a little foolish?

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 9:11 PM

I suspect Hoon that you'd have steam coming out of your ears, nose and ... if you were a commercial tomato grower done wrong by the FDA, and you might also have a banker breathing down your neck. Humm, that part wouldn't be all bad if she was Chrissie's twin.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 9:27 PM

Goat Cheese, that just shows the range of the Dead Rockers. We can add knowledge to any topic, including agriculture.(I use the term knowledge very loosely here.)

-- Posted by BonScott on Tue, Jul 22, 2008, at 9:53 PM

BonScott, you use the term "knowledge" very loosely, indeed.

Fellow bloggers, if one of the other bloggers bothers us or their comments fail to amuse or enlighten us, we have only to ignore them. We'll just talk around them and let them become "unpersons." Don't comment on their comments, stay on topic and enjoy the blog.

-- Posted by Ducky on Wed, Jul 23, 2008, at 1:05 PM

I'm already there!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jul 23, 2008, at 4:05 PM

That's not very nice daffy duck. Who appointed you blog patrol? I don't believe we ever voted on that. Don't you think staying on topic all the time gets a little Magoo.

-- Posted by BonScott on Wed, Jul 23, 2008, at 4:37 PM

Remind me to never give you a badge Ducky... "unpersons" sounds pretty creepy.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Jul 23, 2008, at 6:44 PM

"Unpersons" is from George Orwell's "1984." The Party eliminated those who had fallen from favor by making them totally disappear, erasing any printed reference to them, as if they had never existed. Pretty scarey, all right. Orwellian.

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jul 23, 2008, at 6:55 PM

Can't believe we're still on a tomato blog. Orwellian!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jul 23, 2008, at 6:56 PM

Thank you for reminding me GL. Actually I deleted the second sentence of that particular post that referred to O'Brien. Now there is a "knight" of a different kind. He would have found out what caused the salmonella outbreak, even if he had to use enhanced interrogation techniques to do so. O'Brien is a likely model for Jack Bauer on "24".

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Jul 23, 2008, at 7:11 PM

Not familiar with "24," but the O'Brien character is the ultimate mind reader & brain washer... I hope that's not the future for mankind.

Tomatoes! We're supposed to be talking about tomatoes!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jul 23, 2008, at 9:06 PM

Looking at the bright side of the FDA's tomato debacle, is more people turned to buying produce from the weekly farmers markets that are in many mid-sized towns and cities -- so they were supporting small growers instead of the agri companies that provide store produce. FYI GL, the U.S. has based some of its enhanced interrogation techniques condemned by the civilized world, on what is shown on the fantasy TV program "24."

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Jul 24, 2008, at 12:30 PM

Yes, indeed. I've been frequenting my favorite little road-side stand for locally grown produce rather than buying at the grocery store. I like cutting out the middle man and supporting the grower directly, plus the produce just seems to taste better. It's generally been more recently picked and probably picked when ripe rather than picked green and allowed to ripen during shipment.

The O'Brien character is alive and well and working in the Dept. of Homeland Security. He's probably reading this blog even as I type. Ha.

-- Posted by Ducky on Thu, Jul 24, 2008, at 12:41 PM

Oh, oh, remember Madeline's experience with FEMA? (Oh, no! I said the WORD!!) Sorry!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Jul 24, 2008, at 6:08 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Oh, no! Ducky and Goat Lady, what have you DONE?? Now the government search engines will FIND me!!! I have no doubt that TWO incidents will doom me! They will come in the middle of the night and take me away! I will never be heard from again! I will become an unperson!! ARGGGGGGGG!!!!

Why did you say the WORDS??????????

Dead Rockers step aside......Quacker, the GOAT, and FootJoyBoy are carrying on one heck of a blog here. And now Maddie is piling on. Might we take a break and let this blog and others go back to single digits in comments?

I like how FootJoyBoy says that the great thing about the FDA debacle is people have turned against AgriBusiness companies and turned to supporting small town farmers. What a moron. AgriBusiness companies are supported by farmers like the ones ALL across SE Missouri. I guess you are talking about the garden growers like attend the Farmers's Market. GREAT, they do alot for our economy.

I am Hoon the unperson and don't require a response from the blogging middle class.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Fri, Jul 25, 2008, at 9:32 AM

So sorry, MD. I forgot about all the little search engines crawling around the web like spiders waiting to pounce on unsuspecting bloggers. My bad. Guess they'll have to take us with you.

-- Posted by Ducky on Fri, Jul 25, 2008, at 12:37 PM

I imagine they are really concerned about the Statesman blogs, full of traffic from about 12 people + a handful of dead rockers.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Fri, Jul 25, 2008, at 3:21 PM

Hey, I run with scissors and eat tomatoes at Mexican restaurants.

I'm freakin' crazy nuts!

-- Posted by Jim Morrison on Sat, Jul 26, 2008, at 12:28 AM

Hoon, small growers do sell to large agri businesses, but often at close to their cost to cover their overhead. Whatever profit they make comes from their sales direct to the public at roadside stands and farmer's markets. So it is very important to buy fresh wholesome produce from them.

Also Hoon, HS types have no sense of humor and they may take it literally that "dead rockers" are blogging on the Statesman. They may want to find out the secret of life after death and come knocking on your door! Be prepared!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sat, Jul 26, 2008, at 1:38 PM

Watch out Hoon...scary words. Now, back to eating my tainted tomatoes.

-- Posted by Jim Morrison on Sun, Jul 27, 2008, at 7:31 PM

Hoon, didn't you know that Ms. Madeline's blogs have already attracted attention from FEMA???? Someone in Washington read one and off we went. Madeline, you may have to educate him.

-- Posted by Ducky on Mon, Jul 28, 2008, at 12:27 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Maybe so. Hoon, see my archives - 4/29/08 - "Page 2 - the rest of the story." I don't know what happened to the first FEMA blog. It has mysteriously disappeared!

Ducky, I just read yesterday that the CIA is funding programs on college campuses that are taught by CIA agents in the techniques of monitoring public sources of information, including internet websites and blogs. The long and short of it is we are all being watched.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Jul 28, 2008, at 5:39 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Suspicion confirmed!

If you need watching, you probably could be and I hope if you need it that you are.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Mon, Jul 28, 2008, at 8:50 PM

Oh, I.B., I'll be so disappointed if you're an undercover agent!!! Please don't report us to the C.I.A.!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Jul 28, 2008, at 9:25 PM

Oh no, never. Our dear I.B. could never be an undercover agent.

FJguy, I'm not surprised. Those same kids will never be able to put that work on a resume because they'll never be able to admit that they worked for the CIA (at least not for 10 years).

Lonnnnngggg ago in a galaxy far, far away, the CIA was recruiting on my college campus. Not openly, of course. I was about to graduate and I took the first interview with this "company." The circumstances of the proposed employment sounded a little odd to me so I talked to one of my profs (a retired full bird colonel with very high connections) who wised me up and I didn't take the second interview. I don't know that they would have selected me - never will know - but I always felt that I had dodged a bullet.

Warning. Never say anything about tomatoes on a blog you don't want everyone to see. Big Brother is watching.

As goatlady would say, "orwellian."

-- Posted by Ducky on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 12:41 PM

Not that I am or ever was a CIA agent, but there are some very admirable jobs in the CIA and great careers. If you had the opportunity to work for the CIA and passed that up you probably made a very bad mistake. The pay and benefits are great. Would you be better off now if you had taken the job? If your Colonel had very high connections, more than likely he would have been a General. The CIA or retired Colonels. He probably took your job.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 8:54 PM

Give me an R....R

Give me an E.....E

Give me a T......T

Give me an A.....A

Give me an R.....R

Give me a D.....D

What's that spell???????????????????????????????????

You guessed it.

LOUDER!!!!!!

One more time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 9:52 PM

Yep, if you say so. I guess you would be the authority on that.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 10:54 PM

Hey Hoon, that sounded an aweful lot like that old 80's band Helix and their song "Rock You" from the "Walkin the Razor's Edge" album. I used to ride to school with one of my very best friends (you know who) and his older brother in his green and white Chevy/GMC truck rocking that out in the parking lot.

Then again, it also sounds like an old cheer from football and us "Trenchers" at B-ball games.

Ahhhh, this gin & tonic is going down well.

-- Posted by Jim Morrison on Wed, Jul 30, 2008, at 11:59 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Bitter fare!

Nope, my colonel kept right on teaching. No way I could work for the CIA then or now. Some jobs just aren't for everyone. I might have made more money and I'd probably be retired by now. Would I have been happier? No. It's a matter of personal conscience. I respect some of the things they do, but I don't want to do them.

-- Posted by Ducky on Tue, Aug 5, 2008, at 12:57 PM

Ducky, you don't even know what they do. The vast majority of their jobs are very boring. How do you know your Colonel wasn't working for the CIA?

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Aug 5, 2008, at 3:46 PM


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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net or by phone at 573-722-5322.
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