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Foundation doesn’t mind exploiting cantaloupe tragedy

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The Weston A. Price Foundation just published a news release suggesting that the outbreak of listeria in Colorado cantaloupes could be traced to confined animal feeding operations.

At this time, there is no basis for this conclusion. In fact, the cantaloupe investigation is still ongoing, and no one has even ventured a guess on what might have caused the outbreak.

I recently came across a press release from the Weston A. Price Foundation which began, “The deadliest food borne illness outbreak in a century may be linked to confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Over sixteen people have died from possible Listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes.”

A subsequent Internet search did not confirm this news. In fact, the cantaloupe investigation is still ongoing, and no one has even ventured a guess on what might have caused the outbreak.

My Internet search did reveal that the Weston A. Price Foundation is a bit out there, if you know what I mean. It advocates the consumption of raw milk – which can cause serious health problems – and prefers pasturing cows to CAFOs.

The foundation apparently has no qualms about exploiting calamity either. They don’t even need the facts to put out a news release – just run conjecture up a flagpole and urge readers to connect the dots.

Here’s how a couple of Weston staffers might have contrived the news release I read. I admit on the front end that it is entirely made up.

“Did you hear about the Listeria outbreak in those Colorado cantaloupes?”

“Yeah. Pretty nasty stuff. The story’s been getting a lot of press lately.”

“I wonder if there’s a way we can capitalize on it. You know, put out a press release blaming it all on CAFOs. We could say that runoff water from CAFOs contaminated the cantaloupes.”

“So they found proof?”

“No, but we can’t let facts get in the way of the message.”

 “That’s downright shameful. But, I’m still listening.”

“We could just say in the press release that CAFOs ‘may’ have had something to do with it. Our president could talk about filthy runoff, stuff like that.”

“Don’t you think it will sound like we’re exploiting tragedy to push our agenda?”

“What’s your point ?

“Ha. Good one. Well, we need to throw in some outrage, anger, indignation, self righteousness, that type of thing.”

“Yeah. I’m getting the picture now. How about if we demand that public health officials investigate the CAFOs? Then, at the end, we’ll push the benefits of pastured cows and raw milk.”

“Better leave off the raw milk. I heard some people got sick from that.”

“Good idea.”

“Not really exemplary journalism, you know.”

“So you were expecting a Pulitzer?”

“Have it on my desk by Friday morning. Give people the weekend to think about it.”

“You got it, boss.”

In a few weeks, I have no doubt that sound science will prevail in finding the cause of this terrible outbreak. Meanwhile, those wishing to exploit the tragedy or speculate about it need to take a break. 

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Blair McMorran (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2011

I did some searches on the internet too, and found that Jenson Farm (canteloupe grower) is downstream from a hog CAFO that was cited by CDPHE earlier this year for failing to protect ground water from contamination by their manure pool.

(Actually, 3 CAFO farms were cited in the same report, but not in the same location.)

It is tempting to connect the dots, but you're right - we need to run more lab tests and conduct a scientific review. I'm sure no CAFO indictment will result, and even if it does, we can rest assured that things won't change.

I'm glad I still get to choose where my food comes from, though.
-Blair

on Oct 27, 2011

Hi Elton!

I read the original source of the article from Weston A. Price Foundation at http://www.westonaprice.org/press/deadly-cantaloupes-could-it-be-cafos and didn't see anything wrong with it. Jenson Farm is downstream from a hog CAFO that was cited by CDPHE in failing to protect ground water two months before the outbreak. I would think it would be logical to check the farm but the government probably won't do so saying the processing factory was contaminated without saying how that happened!

Thanks,
Samantha

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