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The high cost of "safe salad"

(article, Culinate staff)

A recent article in the High Country News outlines some of the extreme measures California growers are taking to eliminate "harborage" (also known as "habitat") in the wake of the spinach/E. coli fiasco of 2006. 

In what may be a misguided effort to keep animals far from the crops, mega-buyers such as Wal-Mart and McDonald's are requiring farmers to eliminate hedgerows and other plants that benefit farming by stemming erosion and providing a home for crop-friendly insects. 

"The science shows that food safety and conservation can go hand-in-hand," writes reporter Li Miao Lovett. "Now it’s up to consumers and corporate buyers to accept farming in its natural environment, where hedgerows, ponds and wildlife make good neighbors — rather than bare dirt and fences."

How about you? Does the removal of animal habitat from the edges of spinach fields make you feel more confident as a buyer? Or just more frustrated at the environmental cost of your purchases?