Even More Reasons to Grow Your Own Food

Growing your own food

As if you needed any more reasons to start growing and raising your own food, Chipotle restaurants have now given you one more reason.

Chipotle restaurants are noted or want to be noted for using organically grown foods. Obviously, the growers cannot use commercial fertilizers and still call their product organic, so they typically use animal manure for fertilizer. Before the manure can be used however, it must be composted for a specific period, but foods grown in other countries are not regulated as heavily as they are here in the United States.

The manure may go directly from the barns to the fields, bypassing proper composting practices, which would have eliminated the bacteria in the manure, bacterium that has sickened close to two dozen people so far.

In addition, human feces has been found on some food products grown in other countries, so it may not just be animal manure being used as fertilizer. In fact, in July 2015, the FDA banned Cilantro from Mexico because of human feces in the fields.

Once in the fields it is not a far stretch to imagine it is on the leaves of your produce as well. Some foods do not require cooking that would kill the bacteria, and a quick rinse may not be enough to remove the bacteria (Stapleton, 2015).

Foods from other countries or even from this country could pose a health risk if not properly grown and processed, and part of the processing to ensure you are safe must be done by you. You have to clean any foods that will not be cooked to a high enough temperature to kill any bacteria present on the product.

You simply cannot buy fresh produce carry it home and slice and eat. You shouldn’t do this even with produce you grow yourself. A proper scrubbing and rinsing is important to wash away contaminates on the product. You also have to clean fruits and vegetables that have heavy skins that are not usually eaten. The knife used to cut into the product will carry the bacteria inside to the edible parts, as will your hands, if you handle the skins before washing the skins and your hands thoroughly.

If you compost at your homestead it has to be done properly to ensure the organic matter has been broken down (decomposed) correctly. This requires heat, which is generated by the decomposition of organic matter. Cow/horse manure can be composted, but it should compost for up to six months before being used as fertilizer. The heat generated must reach a certain level and maintain at that level.

Hot composting manure before applying it to your garden will kill parasites and reduce seeds from any weeds in the manure. Hot composting balances food, water, and air in the compost pile to favor the growth of much needed microorganisms that thrive in high temperatures.

It takes one-half to one cubic yard of fresh organic matter for the pile to reach the recommended temperatures for hot composting”, states Nick Andrews, small farms specialist with the OSU Extension Service. “The pile should also have a balanced carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and good moisture and oxygen supplies (OSU, n.d.).”

Associated Press (2015, November 3) Retrieved 2015, from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/11/03/officials-identify-microorganism-responsible-for-chipotle-e-coli-outbreak-shift-focus-to-suppliers.html?intcmp=hplnws

OSU. (n.d.). Retrieved 2015, from http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/turn-manure-compost-your-garden

Stapleton, A. (2015, July). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/28/health/mexico-cilantro/