Your Salad: A Search for Where the Wild Things Were
Yet after the spinach disaster of 2006, California’s big-time sellers of salad greens knew they had to do something. So they got together and hammered out a whole catalog of rules for growers. The rules amount to a manual for building a kind of anti-microbial Berlin Wall around their fields of greens.
Keeping The Birds And Beasts Away
Some fields in the Salinas Valley now have fences. Almost all of them, like the one Daniels took me to see, are surrounded by a no man’s land of bare dirt to help detect any animal traffic. “You would be able to see animal tracks coming across it pretty easily,” says Daniels.
If tracks do show up, or actual animal feces, any leafy greens around that spot doesn’t get harvested. Some buyers tell their suppliers to discard everything within five feet; others say 50 feet.
Lettuce fields now have to be separated from cattle pastures, and throughout the valley, next to lettuce fields, you see white plastic pipes. Inside those pipes are mouse traps.
And the birds? Vegetable buyers won’t take anything from the area directly under power lines — because birds like to sit there. Even trees, next to fields, are considered suspect.
There’s a lot of debate about how effective some of these precautions are. They probably reduce the risk of contamination, but they don’t eliminate it entirely.