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Know Your Farmer: Cilantro Edition

July 29, 2015

First the good news. Dali Mamma is opening back up in Albany? I had no idea until I learned that my chef buddy Ellie Markovitch took a job with the “farm-to-fork cafe”. Ellie is also a member of the Chefs’ Consortium and this past winter I got to join her on a visit to 9 Miles East Farm to learn how Farmer Gordon was using pizza to get people to eat their veggies.

Anyway, you should check out the website and facebook page. Monday, August 3 is the reboot. And I wish I could be there, but I’ll be out of town. More on that later.

But a place that focuses on local seasonal food is important. Especially given the news of the day. If you ever needed a reminder about why you should care about where your food comes from, this is it. Let’s just hope you aren’t eating cilantro of unknown origin if you are reading this.

Actually, let me put that a bit more firmly. If you are eating anything right now, I’d advise that you don’t click through. Wait until later. Unless you are eating imported cilantro. If that’s the case, put it down immediately, and brace yourself.

There’s human feces on the cilantro coming in from Puebla, Mexico. And it’s making people sick.

It’s a foul story, and I don’t really want to get into the stomach turning details. If you would like those, you are welcome to follow the link above to Food Safety News. But this turns out to be a perpetual problem with produce from Pueblo. Even the water farm workers use to wash their hands was found contaminated with this poop born parasite.

So gross.

And it’s already sickened hundreds of people in the US. So, be on the lookout. And if your favorite restaurant uses cilantro in their food, you might want to ask where it comes from. Because even though cilantro goes great with Mexican food, it doesn’t have to come from Mexico. It grows well right here in the Empire State. In fact, I just got a fragrant bunch of the stuff from Roxbury Farm yesterday.

When you know your farmer, and pay a fair price for the toil and investment in the land, it’s more likely everyone involved respects the food enough to refrain from pooping in the fields. Or at least I hope it is.

It’s been noted before that I’m not a farmer and that I know bupkis about farming. That’s true. I don’t like the feeling of dirt under my fingernails. I’m not even crazy about the earthy smell of water on rich soil. And I always like to wash my food before I eat it. Even when picking berries off the vine.

Without a doubt, I’m a city mouse. But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy country life every now and again. I’m just glad there are other people growing my food so that I don’t have to do it. And that most of my food is blessedly poop-free.

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