Local farmer grows romaine lettuce

Lisa Dennis of Regent Square selects a head of green lettuce from the vegetable shelves at the East End Food Co-op Federal Credit Union Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, in Pittsburgh. Due to a recent consumer alert regarding a multi state E.Coli outbreak the Co-op has replaced their fresh and bagged romaine lettuce with blue signs reading, "The CDC has issued a Consumer Alert for romaine lettuce due to a multi state E.Coli outbreak." (Jessie Wardarski/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

After the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control warned earlier this week that persons should not eat romaine lettuce, as it may be contaminated with E. coli, a local farmer is hoping to fill the gap by selling the vegetable to anyone who is interested.

According to Dr. Selima Hauber, a horticulturist for the Field to Fork Farming Company,  Bahamians still have the option of purchasing home-grown romaine lettuce from her farm.

“We are able to keep great control over our production and it is beneficial to them [the consumer] because they can talk to me directly. We are happy to ensure that our consumers are confident that what they are getting is fresh and delicious,” Hauber said.

Since the CDC’s warning in the United States, 32 people, including 13 who have been hospitalized, have been infected with the E. coli outbreak strain in 11 states, according to the CDC, but no deaths have been reported.

A statement released Wednesday from the Ministry of Health advised that the E.coli bacteria can cause serious illness which may be severe enough to cause death in those with compromised immune systems. The Ministry recommended that any and all types of romaine lettuce that has not been grown in your backyard should be thrown out.

The horticulturist explained that the E.coli outbreak involving Romaine lettuce could have happened anywhere and local farms are not exempt. She did state, however, that larger farms have a greater risk of producing an infected crop.

“The farmers who were watering their fields may have watered it with contaminated water,” Hauber surmised. “It’s also likely that there was an animal or livestock operation nearby and the waste of the livestock operation somehow could have contaminated the vegetables on the farm. It’s also very likely that farmers did not follow good hygiene practices.”

Hauber is present at the weekly farmers market on Gladstone Road.

Common symptoms of E. Coli and Salmonella infection include abdominal pain (cramping), nausea, vomiting and/or loose stools within hours to days after consuming contaminated food.

1 comments

I”m glad that this issue has presented itself. Agriculture is the core of an economy and development, yet there is little attention being given to address the dire state that we are in. Many of our societal ills are derived from a poor agricultural sector (poverty, malnutrition, NCDs etc.). We must look past the thought that agriculture is merely farming but understand how it is integrated in all sectors, from environment, to education, to health to tourism to trade and commerce to technologies and manufacturing. How can we investigate why the industry is stagnant? We need answers as to what is the plan for our food and agriculture sector? Backyard initiatives are well and good but what sense do they make if these new farmers aren’t trained in good agricultural practices? As stated above, e.coli contamination can occur anywhere and local farms aren’t exempt.

Please do not let this issue be swept away among the festivities of the season. We need to drastic transformation into the development of sustainable food and agricultural production systems.

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