Somewhere Popeye is Screaming in Terror and Confusion
Posted on September 18, 2006 Posted by John Scalzi 31 Comments
FDA to consumers: Don’t eat ANY fresh spinach
There’s a headline I never would have suspected I would see in my lifetime. Now I’m looking forward to the one that says “FDA to Consumers: Smoke more, eat more bacon.” Because nitrates and nicotine battle e.coli bacteria for supremacy in your body, you see. Yes, yes. I’ll be expecting that headline presently.
Fortunately, you may still eat lima beans. Children everywhere shall cheer the news!
That’s OK. I hate fresh spinach. It needs to be cooked into submission or canned, heated, and flavored with a little butter to be really good.Lima beans, however, have always been a favorite of mine. I was always the only kid I knew who actually liked nearly all vegetables.
I thought we were past the bacon comments for now.
I love spinach and the FDA has broken my will to live.
Today’s feature: Ask John!
Dear Mr. Scalzi,
Since a proper spinach salad contains bacon, is it safe to eat?
There was an episode of House during the first season where he prescribed cigarettes to a store Santa to control his bowels.
Novel idea, prescribing something that will work but something not intended for that use. Another one they cited was Vaigara for an older woman to help her circulation and blood pressure.
Novel idea, prescribing something that will work but something not intended for that use.
Not that novel, actually. It’s called off-label use.
I’m with Cassie on missing fresh spinach.
I think brussels sprouts (fetal cabbages, as my Dad used to call them) and brocolli are OK to eat as well. ;-)
Safeway had a sale in Northern California on spinach about three weeks ago. With rebate coupons it worked out to a quarter for 10 oz of bagged, cleaned leaf spinach. I ate ten bags worth in two weeks. (Yes, I do like spinach salads)
And no ill effects. It did lead to consideration last week on how the most “healthy” activities can be dangerous, particularly in excess (check out “water intoxication”)
And I’m missing fresh spinach as well – as you might suspect. But since I like lima beans perhaps I’ll switch. They do not make very good salads, however.
Hey Spinach-Haters and other unfortunates who dont know what you are missing:
(WHEN spinach comes back,)
Saute some onions & garlic (and bacon if yer a bacon eater) in some olive oil.
splash in a bit of balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper.
pour this hot stuff on top of a pile o fresh spinach and let it wilt for a minute or two.
or go to a restaurant and have ’em do it for ya.
Aside from the horror of it all, I kind of got a kick out of the fact that the name of one of the the companies they traced it to is called “Natural Selection Foods.”
I think you should tape fresh spinach to the cat. That would show…um…somebody. Something.
When we ban spinach, then Bluto has won.
Man, taping things to your cat is so September 13. Come on! It’s September 18! Live in the now!
If only I had some spinach, I would so tape that stuff to my cat right about now. Maybe rabe will do?
Man, taping things to your cat is so September 13. Come on! It’s September 18! Live in the now!
Don’t you have a dog?
Look, it’s a very temporary thing. It’s an e. coli infestation in a packing plant — maybe: the culprit hadn’t been isolated in any samples from the plant last I heard — it was circumstantial evidence (“What did you eat in the last few days before you got sick?”).
It’s also devastating to my area, since we grow and pack that spinach right down the road from me (well, down the road from where I work, anyway).
By the way, the major organic spinach producer, Earthbound Farms, has this to say as of yesterday:
“we have confirmed that no organic products of any kind, including Earthbound Farm brand spinach or other products, have been linked to this outbreak at this time. However, as the investigation is on-going, consumers should continue to heed the FDA’s advice not to eat packaged spinach products until further notice.”
I’m not surprised. I’ve always been impressed with what I could see of the quality of Earthbound’s operation.
I get my spinach loose from the farmer’s market or the health food store, personally.
Forgive the long post, but I have to also take the opportunity to point out that you always have e.coli in you and on you — you have many strains of e.coli in you and on you (the local pre-med isn’t sure whether a person has hundreds or tens of thousands of strains of e.coli living in them). You only get sick from a very few strains of e.coli, and you only get very sick if you have the wrong confluence of toxic e. coli, personal vulnerability (as in stressed kidneys), and bad luck.
The reason the FDA has taken strong measures is because they can. It’s knowable and doable, and in studying and stamping out this outbreak they might be able to ratchet up food safety in general from what they learn.
I’m really glad they’ve eliminated Earthbound, because I don’t want to see it go the way of Odwalla (which also started as a small local business with good business practices, which outgrew itself and is now a subsidiary of Coca-Cola).
With all respect, no. Brussels sprouts are not “OK” to eat. Ever.
And speaking of headlines, did anyone see the story about CNN.com using Toss Those Salads? I guess it wasn’t up long, but, man, there’s a headline.
Sorry to disappoint you, but Earthbound Farms is a brand of Natural Selection. And despite the company’s claims that the organics have been cleared, they have not.
AP writes that FDA Spokesman Susan Bro “…dismissed a claim by Natural Selection Foods LLC, the country’s largest grower of organic produce, that its organic spinach products had been cleared of suspicion. “The FDA has not cleared any products from the list and continues to recommend consumers avoid eating fresh spinach products,” Bro said.
Hey now… this rampant brussels sprouts hatin’ is worse than the Pluto-haytas.
Sprouts are delicious… especial good roasted. Toss them in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, touch of garlic and roast em on a sheet pan… soooo good.
Q, I’ll give that recipe a try.
Popeye wouldn’t be worried. Remember, he always ate canned spinach.
G. Jules: Not that novel, actually. It’s called off-label use.
That’s the phrase I couldn’t recall. Thank you. And obviously, sinced there’s a term for it, it’s more common than not.
I just run into paradigms at work sometimes. Cranks up the cynicism. :-)
The “spinach as super food” meme was really nothing more than a big marketing campaign. Once Popeye came aboard there was no stopping the myth, even though new testing shows the iron in spinach is not readily absorbed and the oxalic acid in Spinach inhibits the absorbtion of calcium taken in the same meal. Yeah, it has beta carotene and vitamin C but give me carrots and oranges any day.
Cartoons don’t always get it wrong:
“I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.”
— Carl Rose, The New Yorker, 1928
I will allow that Italian Wedding Soup is tasty, though.
I suppose we should update the phrase ‘eat shit and die’ to ‘eat veggies irrigated with shit and die’.
It’s all fun and games until someone ends up with explosive diarrhea (speaking of Italian Wedding Soup – just kidding)…
Penny, earthbound isnot a “brand of” anybody. The AP article is confused about the relationships between the Ag businesses. They are really complex, and I just failed through googling to get a clear explanation of how Earthbound, Natural Selection, Dole, Tanimura & Antle, Ready Pac, etc., are related. They call themselves “partners.” When you drive through the fields out here, some of them are labelled, some are not: some land is owned by the ag companies, some by farmers, some leased one direction or another. The crops are owned in similarly various ways. The packing and cooling sheds are probably more clearly owned. WHat I think, but can’t nail down for sure, is that Natural Selection is a separate marketing entity which shares everything but name and legal organization with Earthbound Farm, which is a growing and packing entity. I think. And I think all those partner brands are similarly legal entities set up so that there can be distinct marketing paths involving different permutations of ag business things.
Here’s a really telling point in the AP article: “Federal officials stressed that the bacteria had not been isolated in products sold by Natural Selection.”
They’ve been testing for e. coli for days and they haven’t found anything in the spinach, though they have isolated it from the sick people. This is the reason why Earthbound feels justified in saying they are cleared. Notice they’re stressing that people should follow the FDA guidelines.
I get my spinach from Route 1, or Blue Heron, or Happy Boy, which are smaller organic outfits (and therefore, in my mind, probably more risky in the scheme of things, but they’ve always seemed pretty clean to me). We’ll see — maybe the farmer’s market will be all out of spinach this week, and we’ll have to have chard.
by the way, Penny, when you say “sorry to disappoint you.” it generally indicates you’re not discussing, you’re scoring points, which is unfortunate.
And I want to support the recommendation for eating brussels sprouts. I like baby ones cooked with parmesan and tomatoes or with lemon and garlic and rosemary. Even though I worked two seasons in a brussels sprout freezing plant (and one spinach season: one was enough, thank you).
This is why I need a TV! I’m getting my masters in public health, you think it would have come up in one of my classes by now. sheesh.
ABC News had a piece tonight saying that meat and poultry processing plants are inspected on a fairly regular basis but that the FDA only inspects processing plants for fruit and vegetables ONCE EVERY TEN YEARS due to lack of staff and funding.
They don’t have any jurisdiction over farms unless we’re in a situation like now where they’re trying to trace an outbreak.
Steve Nagy, it’s spelled Viagra. And it has several off-label uses.
I had spinach for lunch. Fresh spinach. Fresh spinach from the CSA I belong to. Local farmers rule!
Of course, I may not be able to afford spinach for the next several months. I bet after the dust settles, the price goes up. And the growing season is short up here in the frozen north (Minnesota)
I think it was friday, I commented somewhere “What you think about your popeye now” says bluto.
It has come to the our attention that we have a quantity of E-Coli contaminated spinich in the U.S. food supply. Popeye, Olive oyl, & Whimpy, and the rest of the popeye characters are quite concerned because people who associate spinach with popeye may not want to view them as much.
It has come to the our attention that we have a quantity of E-Coli contaminated spinich in the U.S. food supply. Popeye, Olive oyl, & Whimpy, and the rest of the popeye characters are quite concerned because people who associate spinach with popeye may not want to view them as much. Alrighty then! LMAO