A recent outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona has consumers concerned about what lettuce is safe to eat. Because labels on romaine lettuce do not often list growing regions, it can be difficult for a consumer to tell whether the lettuce they are purchasing is part of the outbreak. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns consumers not to buy romaine lettuce unless they can verify the region of production.
That’s why purchasing lettuces and microgreens sold at the Westchase District Farmers Market is a good insurance against falling victim to the latest national outbreak. Our vendors, who come from a 50-mile radius, grow their products and bring them to market themselves, shortening the supply chain and reducing the opportunities for contamination points. Whenever possible, getting food from as close to the source as you can helps to reduce your risk of ingesting human or animal feces, which can adhere to leafy greens in large processing plants where meat and eggs also are processed.
Your best protection against foodborne illnesses is always to wash fruits and vegetables well under running water. Even packaged and so-called prewashed greens can deliver foodborne illness, so wash it all regardless. While you’re at it, when you’re preparing food I highly recommend thoroughly washing your hands, counters, cutting boards and utensils after they come into contact with food, especially raw meat.
And keep in mind that romaine lettuce isn’t the only kind of lettuce. Our vendors grow dozens of different varieties of greens, microgreens and lettuce – let our vendors recommend something different and delicious.
Purchasing from smaller-scale farmers sometimes costs more, but wouldn’t you rather pay that price with your wallet than your health?
John Carey, Westchase District Farmers Market Manager