Clean earth aromas permeate the kitchen as you chop the bottom off a fresh lettuce, wash it in the sink, drain and seal the leaves in your own plastic and pop them in the fridge. Inside a few days, the produce has come from a patch of earth less than an hour from home, gone under your tap and into your salad. Yes, in the past week you have extra cause to celebrate the fresh greens you buy each Saturday from our market.
If you live near farms that grow lettuce and you can buy it from the farmer, why would you not do that? Over many centuries of recorded history, in every established human community, people have traded or shopped for fresh food in their local areas, often buying from the grower of the produce. Only with technological advances in transport, sales and mass production has this practice begun to change. Is the supermarket product in its flashy cost-factored-in plastic somehow better?
On Melbourne’s western outskirts, a large company factory-farms fields of lettuce. Its website insists all quality requirements are exceeded. Their product is not genetically modified. It is hand-picked, packed and stored at an optimum temperature within hours of harvest in a purpose built, state-of-the-art processing plant to guarantee freshness. The operation is headed by a family team with 140 years of collective farming experience. Only the best possible product is dispatched.
They supply eleven lettuce varieties to our two major supermarkets in Victoria, NSW, SA and Queensland and export to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and New Zealand. Major supermarkets in the Adelaide Hills carry these products. Refrigerated trucks from Victoria deliver customers “quality” fresh product every time. This week, the growing number of upset stomachs might beg to differ. If you know the affected Mount Barker businesswoman seen on TV last week, invite her to our market.
In damage control mode this week, Big Brother sings a different tune:
We pledge with all our heart and soul
That all is well and in control
We have liaised with our supplier
The highest standards we require
Facilities have been inspected
Whole lettuces are not affected
Our disclaimer’s newest rider:
Not all packs have bonus spider
And those with headache, diarrhoea
Vomiting, fever – never fear
Dump the product, there’s a nice fella
Sorry about the Salmonella…