How to Avoid Tainted Cantaloupe

by Lisa Rosen on October 4, 2011

I’m sure you’ve all been hearing about the huge Listeria outbreak that seems to have come from a crop of contaminated cantaloupe.  When we first saw the story on the news, there happened to be half a cantaloupe, cut up and ready to eat, in a Tupperware in our refrigerator.  Lee had already eaten the first half.

He had a moment of panic:

“Should I throw the cantaloupe away?  Wait–what were those symptoms?  I’ve already eaten a bunch of it.  WHAT IF I GET SICK?”

“You’re not going to get sick.  It’s fine.”

“BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW??”

And that, my friends, is yet another reason to eat local.  I knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that our cantaloupe did not, could not possibly have come from that unfortunate farm in Colorado.  I knew where our cantaloupe came from–a farm about thirty miles from our house..  I knew the farmer, by name.  I had chatted with his wife the day I bought that melon.  She thumped on several, helping me choose one that would be perfectly ripe and ready two days hence, when I knew we’d want to eat it.

Even if I hadn’t had such a clear memory of the purchase and provenance of that particular cantaloupe, I know that my local melons (like the rest of the produce I buy at the farmer’s market) are grown with an eye toward quick consumption.  They don’t have to be “washed” (which is speculated to be the reason the outbreak has been so widespread), or shipped long distances, or stored for a month or two.  Those melons were apparently harvest in July, and the USDA/health dept. is concerned–now, in October–that there still might be some of the offending crop waiting in people’s refrigerators.

Yuck.

People.  Buy local, and eat with the seasons.  It’s the sensible thing to do.

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