One Health Club Meeting Recap–October 5, 2017
“The Harvest Initiative-determining food safety from farm to table in Northeast Georgia”
Dr. Paula Zimeri
The Harvest Initiative is an interdisciplinary way to look at food security. It involves a background in genetics, an interest in getting metals out of soil and into plants to speed up harvest, the Food safety and Modernization Act, and making food supply more secure. There is currently no metal regulation in food by the FDA; more research is needed to see how much metal is actually in our food as accumulation of these metals can make people very ill. Contrary to popular belief, organic produce still has pesticides which is good because it allows for biodiversity to persist.
Athens has 4 local farms (organic, local, sustainable), one specialty grocery store (organic, not local, not sustainable), and commercial grocery stores (not organic, not local, not sustainable). Studies of food include both social aspects and physical science involving spectrophotometers and the measures of carotenoids in skin.
What type of microbial pathogens are on the vegetables? How long can they persist in soil? The most important pathogens to observe include Salmonella spp., E.Coli – O157:H7, Listeria, and Enterococci. The testing for 40 heavy metals includes inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy and burning a sample over argon flame in order to determine what metals are present and how much is present. The testing for 17 chlorinated pesticides includes metagenomics, pesticides in produce, and the probability of obtaining a positive concentration of X pesticide during Y season.