December 21, 2005
One of the more significant selling points of the segment of agriculture that is dubbed organic, self-sustaining, even alternative, to the consumer is that it claims to offer a more healthy product than goods produced through conventional growing and processing means. But a recent incident in Southwest Washington and one county in Oregon may serve as a warning to consumers that just because a product labels itself as more healthy than its conventional counterpart doesn’t necessarily make it gospel truth.
If one were to go to www.localharvest.org, a site that promotes small, sustainable, and organic based agriculture operations across America, and look up “Dee Creek Farm”, the following description of the Woodland Washington based operation provided as of January of this year reads like this … “Our goal is to build an ecologically responsible and self-sustaining farm, using natural methods and humane practices. We are pleased to offer our quality products and services to those who desire an “alternative for a more healthy lifestyle.”
Part of Dee Creek’s philosophy was extended in the form of providing unpastuerized milk to customers as part of what they call a cow-share program. The cow share program involves consumer purchase of shares in an animal in exchange for a share of the milk produced. However, that practice has come into question after Washington State Department of Agriculture officials and local health officials announced an investigation into an e-coli outbreak.
STOREY: Public health is investigating illness in eighteen individuals.
That includes fifteen children between the ages of one and thirteen for the e-coli infection.
And Marni Storey of the Clark County Washington Public Health Department adds as of Tuesday two of five children hospitalized as a result of e-coli remained in the hospital, and were progressing with their recovery. The owners of Dee Creek Farm previously contended that the outbreak came from another food source. However, W.S.D.A. lab results announced Tuesday seem to indicate otherwise.
STOREY: The Department of Agriculture has informed us that their preliminary laboratory testing of milk samples provided by the shareholders did test positive for e-coli, so those samples will be sent to the Washington State Public Health Laboratory to verify that the strain of e-coli is the same strain that sickened the people who consumed the unpastuerized milk.
How the unpastuerized milk ended up in the food chain is discussed in our next program.