Vegetables are not the wholesome foods we once thought. Despite their purported fountain-of-youth properties, it’s become clear that, in the public consciousness at least, America’s real enemy #1 is green and leafy.
As of Wednesday, three people have died and at least 558 people have fallen ill after an outbreak of salmonella was reported in 33 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The culprit: a malevolent batch of garden cucumbers imported from Mexico.
Yet however menacing it may look, a grocery cucumber isn’t a death sentence for us all. Cucumber distributors have already issued recalls, and the CDC is advising people on which cucumbers you shouldn’t buy if you don’t want a weeklong bout of abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever.
But this isn’t the first time that tainted food has caused salmonella outbreaks, triggering scares across the country. The CDC reports that 1.2 million illnesses and approximately 450 deaths are caused by Salmonella every year in the U.S.
Also according to the CDC, vegetables are often to blame when it comes to food-born illness. A big study surveying the different foods that made Americans sick from 1998 to 2008 found that produce (including fruits, nuts and vegetables) accounted for nearly half of salmonella illnesses. Within produce, leafy vegetables accounted for the most cases.
It’s not like this is news, and vegetable fear-mongering has been going on for years, as evidenced by many a scary produce headline: