Wednesday, September 20, 2006

unexpected happy-nings

what another beautiful day here in my neighborhood! just perfect fall weather... sunny, cool, crisp. and it's just so wonderful living out here in the east, with all the trees and peat farms and dirt roads. ah, holland.

i took my bike on a backroad into hengelo, trying to avoid the busy, noisy hengelosestraat, the road i usually take to get into town. i discovered a little road that's sometimes dirt and sometimes paved, and crosses a canal. i saw that apple orchard again and some very happy, milk-laden cows chomping on some sweet clover. so peaceful.

when i got to hengelo, my plan was to go to the market. (wednesdays and saturdays are market days here in hengelo.) i wanted to find some crisp apples to go with my nutella (mmmm... nutellaaaaaa....), and also some more tomatoes for some pasta for dinner tonight. but when i got to town, the market wasn't there! instead, the whole city center had been transformed into an amusement park! how fun!

apparently, there are these companies that circulate through the netherlands, and so about twice a year they come to your town and set up a veritable amusement park where you can go on rides, eat junk food, and win plastic crap and stuffed animals holding big hearts. i walked down the street that i'm hoping we'll get to live on, and there was a ferris wheel right outside our window! though it was cute and looked fun, i'm also kinda glad that it only comes to town twice a year, or maybe it wouldn't be so much fun to live there...

anyway, no such market. so went to albert heijn again to buy just a few apples and a couple of croissants and some yummy chocolate.

ps, speaking of the market: something i've been thinking about lately, though, is how much i love local markets. especially this time of year, when everything is ripe and beautiful. i've been thinking a lot about this spinach-e-coli thing back home, and it really makes me sad actually. huge fields of spinach that will go to waste because it was destined to be processed in a big factory. tons and tons of spinach at the store that won't be purchased or eaten, that's just going to be thrown out. meanwhile there are people around the world STARVING. so much waste, just for a small percentage of people who got food poisoning. i think i heard on the news it was less than 150 people who got sick in the entire country of 300 million. (maybe the numbers have changed since i heard that... the bbc really doesn't report on this outbreak.) anyway, it just seems so ridiculous to me to be so paranoid about something that's so good for you, and it really upsets me that we're so dependant on mass-produced food. so go out and support your local farmer! shop at your farmers' market! eat locally grown produce! the spinach at the local market is good and fresh and e-coli free!


Elizabeth said...

There's a farmer's market right by my house, and I'm going again on Sunday. I was about to buy fruit and vegetables at the Safeway this evening, then remembered that the farmer's market is only two more days away. I can wait that long for some more apples and plums, fer shure. Yippee!

Neal McBurnett said...

Right on, Amber! You'll be happy to know that the Boulder Daily Camera had a nice feature photo and article about our farmer's market, and people buying spinach right after the outbreak.

What is only rarely reported is that this form of e. coli comes specifically from the unnatural and nasty factory farming habit of feeding mostly corn to cows. But cows aren't used to eating corn and get more diseases, including this one.

I highly recommend Michael Pollan's book "Omnivores Dilemma". Here is a quote from an early version of the engaging storytelling in the book:

Escherichia coli 0157 is a relatively new strain of a common intestinal bacteria (it was first isolated in the 1980's) that is common in feedlot cattle, more than half of whom carry it in their guts. Ingesting as few as 10 of these microbes can cause a fatal infection.

Most of the microbes that reside in the gut of a cow and find their way into our food get killed off by the acids in our stomachs, since they originally adapted to live in a neutral-pH environment. But the digestive tract of the modern feedlot cow is closer in acidity to our own, and in this new, manmade environment acid-resistant strains of E. coli have developed that can survive our stomach acids -- and go on to kill us. By acidifying a cow's gut with corn, we have broken down one of our food chain's barriers to infection.

This Steer's Life
by Michael Pollan