This is something like the time when I realized there was a gas leak in our neighborhood. I called a pregnant friend who didn't speak 10 words of German and told her to close all her windows and stay inside until she noticed that people had resumed activity. I'll never forget her response when she said, "I wondered where the hell everybody was today!"
Anyone planning to visit Germany right now needs to know that there is an outbreak of bacteria on our vegetables. Dear readers, please do not use this post as a public health announcement. I'm just a goofy artist who documents my responses to my environment. This is not a laughing matter however because people have already died from complications resulting from the EHEC bacteria. Make sure and research some intelligently reported news on this subject before you arrive and start eating, especially if you're traveling with small children or the elderly.
That being said, here was my interpretation of what was happening (before I googled anything). This is what it's like to know "something bad" is happening, but not really know what. *Note to new readers: German is not my native language.
Here was TJ's comprehension of the EHEC situation gathered mainly from radio news:
Raw vegetables, especially salad, tomato and cucumbers are being tested because there is a strain of bacteria that is causing digestive problems. Reports on Spanish and German farms. Something is toxic in the compost or the water and it has contaminated the crops. Organic produce is ironically the most dangerous. It's either ON the vegetables or it's IN the flesh of the vegetables. Cucumbers are bad. Maybe tomatoes are to blame. Economic experts are calculating the revenue being lost by piles of rotting food, and the EU will be fining for this. The Spanish minister of Cucumbers announced something very important. The health administers are convening and compiling data and everybody wants answers! It's best not to eat any raw vegetables in restaurants. There is no immunization available, but hygiene is your greatest defense. Wash your cutting boards, knives and hands. Something about 2 minutes at 70 degrees and then meat. Never eat red bloody meat.
The first symptom of being infected with this bacteria is diarrhea. It's possible that if infected you may need to be hospitalized. This bacteria is extremely dangerous and highly resistant to antibiotics. Your liver may need to be washed, something about dialysis. The international football congressional has stated that last week was a complete scandal! (Because they rolled right into football, I have no idea if it was a segue relating the food problem to the sport or not).
Next, TJ googled around a bit and gathered a few additional thoughts:
Poor Spain! The source of the problem is unclear. Is it a virus or is it a bacteria? Do you contract it only from fresh veggies or is it a virus that can be contracted between humans or both? Germany seems to be sorry that the uproar has put the Spanish farmers in crisis. Because the bacteria is so rare and evidence doesn't match up, there is suspicion that this could possibly be a terrorist attack. This post clarified that it's not the liver but the kidneys that can be affected by the bacteria. (*note to self: learn German anatomy). The World Health Organization spells out the strain of coli bacteria quite clearly.
As an observer, I've been watching what people have in their carts at the supermarkets. The big stores have stopped ordering fresh produce. We're being told the safest thing to do is to buy locally. Yet I see lots of people buying produce in the stores as usual. Somehow this is comforting to me. Other than that, we're all just waiting for the experts to determine where it's coming from and what the recommended protocol is.
Thanks everybody for the emails and concern, luckily our family seems fine. Our hearts go out to the people who have already experienced tragedy. I'd like to encourage everybody to keep your foreign friends and neighbors in mind when public announcements are made. What might seem blatantly obvious to native people, is not necessarily apparent to everyone.
PS- what do you guys think of the tomato art? Good visuals or in bad taste?