Rob's Rant: Listeria in Rockmelons

The breaking news story about the rockmelon disaster yesterday from a farm in southern NSW had me in one of those ‘on the one hand and then on the other hand’ moments.

I was going around and around in my thinking about this... but before I go on I will let you know that our Rockmelons come from Veronica and James Branson's Certified Organic farm near Pittsworth and they wash all their fruit individually with a certified cleaner. I just got off the phone with James and as he says says, "Listeria is always present but it would be even more present in a conventional farm as they have a more unbalanced microbial system”. So you should always wash them anyway.

But, getting back to my "on the one hand and on the other hand" thinking. My first question was:

I wonder how much this farmer was being paid by Colesworths? Then...
I wonder what shortcuts they took caused by the price offered?
I wonder how big the farm is? 
I wonder how this farming family is coping with the thought that 3 deaths have occurred? 
I wonder how the families of the deceased are coping? 
How is this going to affect all the other rockmelon farmers?
How will our customers view this tragic event?

It really is a tragedy!

I am half way though Charlie Massey's magnificent book ‘The Call Of The Reed Warbler’. In it he bangs on about the importance of a biologically, ecologically, socially, economically, balanced food system as vital to regenerating our soils and our health.

Now, Charlie is a 67 year old sheep farmer from the snowy mountains and through his humble journey from conventional farming to regenerative farmer he has pointed to a few learnings. The one he hammers home through all the interviews with Australia's leading farmers and practitioners is that it was a sudden calamity that caused them to change.

A sudden jolt that brought on a transformation.

Something that forced them to step back and look deeply and then take action in a completely different way and importantly, with a very different mindset. I’m hoping that this does just that - not only to this farmer but the whole farming industry - with justice for the families affected, but without blame. Without right or wrong, but with deep humility as that is the only real place we learn.