THE Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has gone from flagging only vegetables from Spain and Germany to flagging greens from the rest of the European Union (EU).
The widening of its ‘hold-and-test’ requirement comes on the heels of a deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany, thought to be spread through contaminated cucumbers imported from Spain.
The ‘hold-and-test’ procedure refers to the practice of sending suspected items for tests and withholding their sale until they are found to be free of contaminants.
On Sunday, the AVA had said it would place imported leafy vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes from Germany and Spain under hold-and-test, but it has since confirmed that cucumbers from Germany, Spain and Denmark are not brought in here.
Some, however, do come in from the Netherlands; between January and last month, 69kg of cucumbers were imported.
Yesterday, the AVA spokesman said: ‘In view of the recent situation, AVA will place imported leafy vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes from the EU under hold-and-test, should there be such imports.’
PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Spanish vegetables suspected of contamination with a potentially deadly bacteria are being recalled from stores in Austria and the Czech Republic to prevent the spread of a deadly outbreak, officials said Sunday.
The death toll from the bacteria rose to at least 10 people, and hundreds across Europe have been sickened.
Contributed by Alan Rudo
I’ve lost my confidence in buying local lettuce after purchasing a head of Romaine with a slug inside from a vendor at Pahoa’s Farmer’s Market this past Sunday. What really makes me angry was the labeling, which read, “Hamakua Springs:Certified Food Safety.” It wasn’t until, I went to wash the lettuce, that I discovered the slug inside the plastic wrapping. I am disgusted to think that I stored this deadly slug inside my refrigerator for even a few hours. Thankfully, I discovered the slug before anyone consumed the lettuce. I contacted the grower Hamakua Springs and told them how upset and disappointed I naturally am because rat-lung disease kills people. Their reply was more pathetic than I imagined, “We go to a lot of trouble trying to address the rat lungworm issue. I went to the community meeting at Kalapana Sea View Estate, about rat lungworm disease, in early 2009. We take this issue very seriously.” This was followed with an explanation on the rat-lung cycle and oh, yeah, “we’re sorry.” Here I’m trying to buy local, support the farmers and I get lettuce labeled, “Certified Food Safety,” which might have killed someone. Where is the oversight? Where are the inspectors? Why are they able to call their product “Certified Food Safety?
by Diana Duff
Special To West Hawaii Today
Spring is fast approaching. Gardeners are itching to start their summer gardens. One way to get started now, before the summer rains come pouring down, is to browse seed catalogs, order some interesting varieties and plant them soon.
Most plants will mature about 90 days after seeding, so you can start harvesting veggies and enjoying flowers by June if you plant early in March. With more than a month before we get longer days and warmer, wetter weather, it’s a good time to plant seeds.
Start by dreaming. Though we can garden year- round, we can use some dreaming downtime. Check seed catalogs online or order some to ponder in an easy chair. Several companies have seeds that do well here and come highly recommended from local gardeners.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offers hundreds of varieties of flowers, herbs and veggie seeds. It emphasizes varieties that perform well in warmer climates like ours. Its Cosmic Purple carrot might be worth a try.
At ctahr.hawaii.edu/seed, you’ll find a list of seeds that have been perfected to grow well in Hawaii. Its Anuenue or Manoa lettuces are tried and true for great salads. Continue reading
This week you’ll see lots of mizuna at farmers markets and in supermarkets. Also called pot herb mustard or Japanese mustard, mizuna is a traditional ingredient in island versions of ozoni or rice cake soup consumed on New Year’s Day by families of Japanese ancestry.
Mizuna has feathery, somewhat spiky dark green leaves and a narrow white stalk. Its crisp flavor is somewhat reminiscent of mustard. Mizuna is often used in soup and stew preparations and in stir-fry mixtures, holding up well but shrinking in volume as it cooks. Buy twice as much as you think you’ll need.
Young mizuna greens are often used in mesclun, adding a nice spice to these salad mixes. Young or mature, mizuna can be eaten raw and is an excellent addition to salads throughout the year.
Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for “Fresh Tips” every Wednesday in the Star-Advertiser.
Maui Onions have long been considered among the best and most flavorful onions in the world. The Maui Onion only grows in the deep red, volcanic earth on the upper slopes of Haleakala, Maui’s world-famous dormant volcano.
Maui onions are a variety of sweet onion which are widely cultivated on the Hawaiian island of Maui, although they can be grown in other regions as well. Like other sweet onions, Maui onions lack the sulfur which causes the strong odor and sharp taste associated with onions. The State of Hawaii has invested a great of money in marketing their famous onion variety, putting it on par with Vidalia onions from Georgia, another sweet onion variety. Many markets carry Maui onions in season, along with other sweet varieties, and if you live in a temperate zone, you may be able to grow some yourself.
Hawaiian farmers claim that a true Maui onion must be grown on Maui, because this distinct onion cultivar flourishes best in the rich volcanic soil of Mount Haleakala, the dormant volcano which dominates the landscape of Maui. The volcano’s rich, distinctive red soil may well be responsible for the distinctive sweet flavor of the Maui onion, although the warm weather on the island probably has something to do with it as well. Continue reading
A 70-year-old Waipahu farm worker who died when a truck backed into him at Aloun Farms last Saturday was identified by a family member as Pedro Cervantes.
The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s office said Cervantes died of multiple internal injuries from the accident.
Cervantes was hit about 1 p.m. on a dirt road across from the Waipio Costco on Ka Uka Boulevard.
“I knew him as a good person,” said Monica Cablay, 18, a distant relative of Cervantes. She said he would visit her house on special occasions and left behind children and grandchildren. “He just looked like a happy person.”
Police have opened a third-degree negligent homicide investigation. The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is investigating the death.
One of the most popular root vegetables is beets, the root of a plant whose greens are edible and delicious, too. Plentiful at this time of year, especially on the mainland when root vegetables are abundant, beets have been elevated from boiled and canned status to gourmet with new cooking techniques and varieties.
Salads of roasted red beets with goat cheese come to mind as the epitome of beet preparations of recent years. Golden or yellow beets have made their appearance as well as chioggia beets, the two-toned striped beets of Italian origin. Pickled, roasted, steamed, pureed or raw, beets are part of our contemporary tables.
When buying beets, it’s better to buy them with their tops so you can see how fresh it is — droopy greens indicate age. But beets hold up well when stored in the refrigerator. There’s no way to tell whether a beet is sweet except to eat it; knowing your beet grower can help you get fresh, sweet and firm beets. Continue reading
by Diana Duff Special To West Hawaii Today
Growing food is becoming increasingly appealing to Kona gardeners. When considering what to grow, we need to choose plants that grow and produce bountifully here. It also helps if their growth habit fits into our garden and their flavor fits into our personal palate preferences. Chayote squash can offer all this and more for many local gardeners.
Chayote is a vining member of the Curcubitaceae, or gourd, family. The vine can grow on the ground or onto any support, spreading as much as 20 feet from the roots. Chayote is a perennial tropical vegetable and a valuable food source that is cultivated today throughout the tropics. In addition to producing edible fruit nearly year round, chayote’s stems, tuberous roots, heart-shaped leaves and vining tendrils are also edible. Once the small, cream-colored flowers that appear beneath a leaf or branch are pollinated, they mature into the edible pear-shaped fruit.
Chayote is a native Mexican plant. It was an important staple in the diet of the Aztecs and its name is derived from the Aztec word chayotli. The Mayans ate the fruit as well as the starchy roots and added the stem shoots, as a green, to their bean dishes. Chayote remains an important ingredient in the Mexican diet today. Continue reading
THE news from this Midwestern farm is not good. The past four years of heavy rains and flash flooding here in southern Minnesota have left me worried about the future of agriculture in America’s grain belt. For some time computer models of climate change have been predicting just these kinds of weather patterns, but seeing them unfold on our farm has been harrowing nonetheless.
My family and I produce vegetables, hay and grain on 250 acres in one of the richest agricultural areas in the world. While our farm is not large by modern standards, its roots are deep in this region; my great-grandfather homesteaded about 80 miles from here in the late 1800s.
He passed on a keen sensitivity to climate. His memoirs, self-published in the wake of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, describe tornadoes, droughts and other extreme weather. But even he would be surprised by the erratic weather we have experienced in the last decade.
In August 2007, a series of storms produced a breathtaking 23 inches of rain in 36 hours. The flooding that followed essentially erased our farm from the map. Continue reading