One of my few guilty pleasures in terms of fast food is a local chain called Mighty Taco; I like their vegetarian hard shell tacos and a few other things on their menu we won’t get into. But yesterday when I stopped by for lunch, there was an official-looking notice plastered over the menu board—due to a salmonella scare, none of the red stuff would be included in any taco or burrito served for who knows how long. As you’ve probably read, beefsteak and Roma tomatoes are considered the likeliest to contain the deadly bacteria. Of course, at this time of year, they’re coming from Southern and Southwestern climes; local gardeners in Western New York won’t have any until at least August. (The actual source of the tomatoes that have caused 167 cases of salmonella poisoning has not been pinpointed.)
It makes me wonder how much home gardening protects us from these scares. Many of the articles I’ve seen on this mention that homegrown tomatoes would be safe, but I’m not sure that growing or raising food at home would automatically guard against everything; certainly home preserving can be very dangerous unless you know what you’re doing. With all the renewed interest in home gardens, some easily-accessed advice on how to maintain standards of hygiene in the home garden to help reduce microbial risks would come in handy. (Not insisting on fresh vegetables at all times of the year, wherever they come from, would probably help too.)
Check out yet another article on the joys of growing your own in today’s New York Times as Marion Burros discusses the economic advantages of home-produced food.