The turnout yesterday for our big potato harvest was really remarkable, and hopefully the agencies that received some of the total 6,663 lbs. of potatoes we donated will be able to use them throughout the winter. Potatoes have the longest shelf life of anything we have grown and donated, so they should still be providing their starchy goodness for months to come. Thank you, again, to everyone who came out to help, and to the organizations that will be distributing them to the hungry in Clinton County.
Gary at the Wilmington News Journal wrote a nice story about the harvest for today's paper, and it was placed prominently above the fold with some engaging pictures. You can read the online version of today's paper here [pdf], or click the link below.
Tomorrow afternoon, Mariah and Jenn are leading the first "Read and Seed" program on the Wilmington College campus at 2:00 p.m. So far, we have 10 kids pre-registered for the event, and we expect more to show up and register before the seminar (especially considering Denver Place Elementary is offering their students extra credit if they come). If you or someone you know has children who would like to participate in the event, click here.
Next Tuesday, the VISTAs will be taking the program to Clinton County Head Start, where more than 110 kids will be participating in "Read and Seed." We're excited to make this event a monthly staple in the community, and the more children who participate the better. Spread the word!
Last Sunday, the New York Times told us the story of 22-year-old Stephanie Smith, who was paralyzed from the waist down after eating a Cargill hamburger that contained traces of E. coli. The investigative story takes the reader inside the meat grinding industry, and highlights the perils of a multi-billion dollar industry that has very little oversight when testing for food-borne diseases.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the USDA released a statement on the issue days after the story went to press, highlighting what his administration and the White House are doing to combat the problem.
"The story we learned about over the weekend is unacceptable and tragic. We all know we can and should do more to protect the safety of the American people and the story in this weekend's paper will continue to spur our efforts to reduce the incidence of E. coli O157:H7. Over the last eight months since President Obama took office, USDA has been aggressive in its efforts to improve food safety, and has been an active partner in establishing and contributing to President Obama's Food Safety Working Group.This story should give pause to anyone who regularly eats hamburger meat (myself included), and adds yet another benefit to buying your food locally: your safety. The fewer the inputs that go into making and processing your food, the smaller the likelihood that it will be tainted with something that will make you sick. In the words of the USDA: know your farmer, know your food.
"No priority is greater to me than food safety and I am firmly committed to taking the steps necessary to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness and protect the American people from preventable illnesses. We will continue to make improvements to reduce the presence of E. coli 0157:H7."