Last week, some restaurants began pulling tomatoes from their menu because of an outbreak of salmonella. How do tomatoes get salmonella, you ask? Good question. The one-word answer, as reported by Slate: poop. Salmonella is a bacterium that lives inside the intestines of animals.
Says Slate, "Livestock animals, especially when kept in large numbers in confined spaces, can contract salmonella and carry the bug without showing any symptoms at all. Infected cows, pigs, and chickens shed the bacteria in their waste, which is sometimes used to fertilize nearby fields." Essentially, large-scale factory farming is what's making your tomato make you sick.
The tomato salmonella outbreak has sickened over 167 People in 17 states. It seems we should've learned our lesson 2 years ago when 200 people in 26 states were made ill from pre-packaged bags of e. coli-tainted spinach. As Michael Pollen wroteduring that mini-food crisis, "if industrial farming gave us this bug, it is industrial eating that has spread it far and wide."
The takeaway--eat locally and you needn't be scared. You won't need to worry that your tomatoes are covered in fecal run-off from zombie cattle packed in shoulder to shoulder in an industrial feedlot. And your food won't have to be shipped across the country, propagating the wide distribution network of a few large, dirty "farms." -Tim