Monday, June 30, 2008

About that.

So, you know the whole tomato-salmonella thing? You know, the one where more than 800 people have been reported to have been infected with the same strain (and countless others just at home with "the stomach flu")? Well, the delightful CDC held a press conference last Friday to announce the following finding: tomatoes may or may not be responsible.

Come again?

From the Washington Post:

"We continue to see a strong association with tomatoes, but we are keeping an open mind about other ingredients," said Patricia Griffin, a top epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We have to re-examine the whole thing," David Acheson, a top food safety official with the Food and Drug Administration said. "We are concerned there is something out there still exposing people to this salmonella saintpaul strain." ... "Nothing that Dr. Griffin said indicates that we should be taking a serious look at anything else, but rightly that question is being asked," he said. "We need to be looking at all possibilities."

So it's definitely the tomatoes, except maybe something else is out there, but nothing indicates that there is, but we still should be looking for something else.

Want to know one of the big problems? Tomatoes from all over Florida and Mexico get shipped to Florida, dumped all together, and then "repacked to meet the customer specifications" -- so they have no idea where tainted tomatoes (if indeed there are any!) came from, and it's all our fault anyways since we consumers are asking for it.

At least we have FDA inspectors out there making sure this doesn't happen, right? Er, not really. The Dallas Morning News tells us that just a trickle of imports from Mexico are being examined by inspectors. "We have this huge growth in imports, this huge growth in trade; at the same time we have severely cut back on our regulatory agencies and their ability to do their job, especially the food portion of the Food and Drug Administration," said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine.

What's a poor boy to do? Head to the Durham Farmers Market (or other similar market). Or sign up for a local CSA. Or grow your own. Or a combo of all three.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Food For Thought

In April I co-taught a short course (called Mini-Term) at NCSSM with another teacher and 20 students. In addition to reading Michael Pollan, discussing organic certification, Slow Food and watching some interesting films (including King Corn), we visited several "local food" sites. All of the people that we asked to visit agreed and all were incredibly gracious and informative. Here's where we went:

Elysian Fields Farm, Cedar Grove

SEEDS Garden, Durham

Goat Lady Dairy, Climax

Fickle Creek Farm, Efland

Watts Grocery

Durham Farmers Market

See more photos here (from Facebook):
Album #1
Album #2

EDITED: most of the photography above and in the albums was done by recent NCSSM graduate Ha Thien Nguyen!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A walk to the Eno

One of the nice things about the new house -- oh, one of the many -- is living to so close to West Point on the Eno. I walked down the "secret path" (aka, where the sewer lines run) this morning and captured a few images along the way.

There were lots of workers out this morning setting up for the annual Festival for the Eno in July. Looks like the new pedestrian is almost ready for use.Lovely graffiti under the Roxoboro Road bridge. And a lovely Andy Goldsworthy moment with a leaf.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Hurray for me. Last night I finished my last class for my last class for my master's in liberal studies at UNCG. It's been a very good program and I'd highly recommend it to anyone seeking to get more education, whether for a job or just for lifelong learning. While somewhat inconsistent, the classes overall were very interesting and challenging and the professors (all real UNCG professors) were top-rate. The topics included modern world history, Latin America, Islam and more, but my favorite ones were taught by Charlie Headington on simple living and Slow Food.

Most of my classes were online and again I'd recommend that as well. It allows for enormous flexibility and allowed me to complete my degree while working full-time. Now I'm off to buy some Spartan merchandise. I'll celebrate fully in August when the degree comes in the mail.

Monday, June 23, 2008


As a way of introducing myself, I took my resume and created this Wordle. Stay tuned for more posts to come.