food_wiltedjilted_sfmag

Wilted or Jilted

As told to Rachel Levin, Photograph by Lori Eanes

“I’ve lost $50,000 in sales since the scare began. We are a small-scale organic producer so that’s a huge chunk of money — it amounts to a quarter of my annual revenue. But the damage wouldn’t have been nearly this bad if the FDA and the media hadn’t created such total hysteria.

The FDA traced the E. coli to packaged, nonorganic spinach within days of the first report of an outbreak. And two weeks later, they had limited the contamination to four specific fields around Salinas, 35 miles from where my farm is located. People should have been relieved at that point, but in five months, these reassuring messages have never made headlines. One market I sell to told me they had people coming into their store screaming, ‘Why are you selling this poison?’ In Berkeley of all places!

Also everyone kept talking as if all spinach was the same …”

Photos by Photograph by Lori Eanes