Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Making Hay

You may have heard about one of our farmers market vendors in the media last week. They were implicated in the recent salmonella scare that was traced to the Jimmy Johns sandwich chain.

According to the news, the 50-odd people who got sick had all eaten at Jimmy Johns. And every one of those sandwiches had alfalfa sprouts sourced from an independent farm in Champaign, also a mainstay of our Sunday market.

Only problem is, it was a rush to judgment. There wasn't a single trace of evidence pointing to the farm or their sprouts as the culprits. I know that when it comes to public health, there's a need for explanations, and you're always better adding up 2 & 2. I certainly understand why the alerts were issued. But I figured this was the end of the little alfalfa sprout farm as we knew it. It seemed a catastrophic fate for an independent farm that seemed to have its heart and methods in the right place.

But what the? This Sunday was the first market since before the holidays, and there they were, the sprouts folks, selling radish sprouts and microgreens like nothing had happened in between. There was my friend Dana Joy working their booth, and I could barely even manage a hello for the brisk business they were doing.

I wanted to throw my support their way as well, so I bought a container of spring mix and had some on a sandwich at lunch and again on a salad at dinner.

And then, a revelation: I'd sure come a long way since my decade or so of hypochondria, when I was afraid of the world and all its hazards, especially those that might be lurking in my body. Back in those days, I never would've risked eating something on a watch list. And if I did by mistake, I'd be checking medical dictionaries and making doctor's appointments, positive my days were numbered. The very word "positive" struck terror in my heart. I couldn't even use it in a sentence.

I can't begin to tally my hours spent on medical hotlines. I could probably add up my MRIs -- it's in the double digits -- just to rule out my worst fears of MS or brain tumors, things I suppose could have been possible, in the same way it's possible a tree might fall on your house in a storm, or your hair might turn white overnight.

But along the way, something happened, and even as the world got scarier, I somehow got less scared of the world.

I'm glad to be a point in my life where the reasoned approach trumps the panicked approach. I'm glad I can eat alfalfa sprouts, take a sip from a friend's glass, have a lightheaded day, find a swollen gland, read about radon, order sushi on a Monday, kiss a colleague hello, clean a skinned knee, swim in a public pool, all without fear of dire consequences.

My immune system and temperament are both the better for it. So are my lunch hours.


Rosemary said...

Amazing! I had no idea...congratulations on overcoming your phobia. That's a huge accomplishment--glad you're able to do all of the things you mentioned to celebrate.

Christy said...

It's so funny to think I didn't know you that entire stretch, Rosemary. John could certainly tell you stories, though it was probably worse before I knew him.

Now, if I could just get over my fear of frogs! (I don't think that one will ever be behind me, alas).

Ms.Ding said...

It is amazing (and good) that we continue to grow and change, eh? Nice blog by the way! We don't live too far from you and we love our neighborhood as well as the greater area of the city that encompasses both our 'hoods.

Christy said...

Welcome, Ms. Ding! I'm really enjoying your blog as well (hope you noted the link) and would love to come to a women's biking brunch at some point. Curious which neighborhood you call home these days.

leslie said...

Go Christy! These are indeed big changes. I'm much impressed at your fortitude and ability to make them happen.