Richard Ha writes:
Someone reports finding a slug on lettuce he bought that had our label on it. He says he bought it on Sunday at the Pahoa Farmers Market.
But we do not sell our lettuce at the Pahoa Farmers Market, and do not have vendors selling our product at any Farmers Markets. Apparently, and unknown to us, someone must have bought our lettuce and resold it. We did not have control over that lettuce. It could have been contaminated when out of our control. It's also possible someone packed other lettuce into our container/label. There’s no way to know.
We only sell our products at Farmers Markets ourselves. If you see our product at a Farmers Market, come up and say hi. We'll say hi and introduce ourselves, and you'll be talking to me and/or members of my family.
For many years now we have been very proactive about slugs and slug-borne diseases. I have written about this here before.
We do not grow our lettuce in dirt. Instead, we grow our lettuce on floating rafts. The lettuce roots gets their nutrients straight from the water. This helps us to maintain a barrier from slugs.
We were the first company in the state to be third-party Food Safety Certified. We could have been satisfied with that, and just relied on our food safety certification (which is voluntary, and adds a lot of labor and cost to our operation, but is important to us). But we are serious about doing everything we can to protect our customers, so we took it one step further.
Although there haven’t been any cases of the slug-borne “rat lungworm disease” reported in Pepe‘ekeo, where our farm is located, we voluntarily instituted a program to cut the potential lifecycle of the rat lungworm (the carrier of the rat lungworm disease).
Because the disease lifecycle requires the rat lungworm to live part of its life in a slug and part in a rat, we developed a program of slug baiting and rat baiting/trapping to make sure that the cycle was cut. So on our farm, even if a slug got by us, the chance of it being infested with the disease is unlikely.
We sympathize with the person who found a slug, but we have carefully doublechecked our procedures and are confident they are working as planned.
I don't blame him for feeling frustrated. But the world is changing and we need to be thinking of how we will help each other face the uncertain future together. We need to make strornger communities, we need to make more friends and we need to stay closer to our families. In an uncertain future, it will be the aloha spirit that will help us cope with an uncertain tomorrow.