First They Came for the Marijuana…


…and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a pot smoker. Then they came for the spinach, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a salad eater. Who will stop the anti-vegetation persecution?

When the first of the dozen or so federal agents arrived Wednesday about 9:30 a.m. at Growers Express in Salinas, equipped with sidearms and search warrants, some employees initially thought it was some kind of sick joke.

It wasn't.

The FBI and Food and Drug Administration agents spent the next six hours meticulously sifting through paper and computer records looking for evidence of violations of federal law that might have led to an E. coli outbreak in bagged spinach that has now led to two confirmed deaths.

The kicker–"Growers Express doesn't process any fresh bagged spinach, the only product found to have E. coli contamination."

Of course, Popeye fans have long known about the spinach-marijuana connection.

NEXT: Café Americain

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  1. What if some enterprising monk/geneticist decided to create hallucinogenic spinach? Would that spinach be legal to use, or have our drug laws gotten broad enough to bust people for using heretofore unknown substances? What if the “drug” was some sort of electronic stimulation?

  2. Wouldn’t that just be another form of “designer drug?” That is, it would be made illegal as soon as Congress or the FDA found out about it. (I’ve forgotten if the drug schedules are determined by Congress or administratively).

  3. I’m STILL looking for the SOB who cut my weed with spinach one Saturday night long, long ago.

  4. I know this may be a boring buzzkill, but i seem to recall an USDA guy on the news hour saying that although all of the noted cases of illness were sourced to bagged spinich, the source of the bug may have been originally from elsewhere, via processing/washing/shipping with products supplied by a number of different places. Part of the problem of their search is that many different growers products turned up ‘positive’, which was confusing, since it suggested multiple simultaneous outbreaks in different places, which was highly unlikely. So they believed that the stuff that got contaminated had some element processed in common by a third party, who maybe did the bagging or provided transportation or something.

    Anyhoo, thats really boring. but I’m a consumer products analyst, so I do read really boring trade journal news about this kind of really boring stuff.


  5. Federal agents need to show up prominently armed to search through spinach records?

    What, were they afraid they’d confront a hopped-up Popeye?

    “We are federal agents! You are surrounded! Come out with your freakishly overdeveloped forearms up!”

  6. Federal agents need to show up prominently armed to search through spinach records?

    “If the EPA and the Forestry Service have SWAT teams, by Gaia the FDA can carry guns too.”

  7. GILMORE: no need to apologize for esoterica. It’s why the internet exists. I have a fascination with how the world works, in any case. I had always assumed the spinach was washed, cut, and bagged on the premises and shipped out from the farm that way.

    I agree the police in what used to be America are insane. It’s hard to imagine British investigators carrying guns on a mission to check paperwork. But the threat of violence has become omnipresent in our relationship with government. It’s gone beyond treating all of us as suspects. Now the agents of the State emerge from their fortresses in body armor, heavily armed, for their brief, tense contacts with the Ruled.

  8. I think they were armed because that is standard issue dress code.

    I would hope the author of this HR isn’t naive enough to suggest each law enforcement agency should have a variable policy regarding carrying firearms – I could just imagine the liability issues if they did?

  9. I would assume the FBI follows the same general procedures as regular police — which requires FBI agents to be armed.

    They wear their sidearms in any official capacity (unless specifically barred from doing so — I would suspect the Secret Service rules would preempt that, to name one). I would also suspect that regulations require them to carry a weapon even outside of official activities, whenever they’re out and about in public.

    Concealed, of course.

  10. Yes, guys, the rules regarding sidearms apply, but the strange visual still counts.

    I saw the photo in the local rag. The FBI shows up for a spinach bust, armed and wearing jackets emblazoned with FBI. That’s, well, laughable.

    But the real question some of you are overlooking is WTF the FBI is doing there at all.

  11. TWC: Indeed, the next logical question. You got the militarization of law enforcement on one hand and the criminalization of all regulations on the other. Not a tempting prospect for the small business owner, is it?

  12. Federal agents(local ones too)LIKE to show up wearing firearms. They think it makes them look BUTCH.

  13. caveat emptor
    And if it happens to thoroughly emptor your colon and maybe e-kill-ya… hey, shit happens.
    We federal agents are far more invidious.

    Federal Bureau of Rectal Inspection

  14. Monsewer Commonsewer,
    Popeye is not really daid, seeing as how he always ate CANNED contraband. You can’t snooker the likes of us over here within the confines of H&R,
    (Canned contraband was never banned. And, though I’m not Helen, my eyes are wellin’, and my feet are smellin’.)
    A for real Popeye who always eats RAW is one Barry Bonds.
    Maybe he’s just been lucky so far… or just jellin’

  15. Popeye et spinach in all its many forms. He even grew it in his own WWII Victory Garden. Next you’ll be claiming he was never dictipator of Spinachovia!

    None of these regulatory agencies should have armed agents. If an armed entry were somehow required by circumstances, what would be wrong with detailing some U.S. Marshalls to the task force?


  16. If you consume vegetables in ny form, the terrorists have won.

    – Josh

  17. Ruthless, Moi is also Ruth less, having dumped her like a hot rock when I was about 29. One of my better moves.

    Barry bonds does EAT it raw. Oh, you meant spinach.

    When I was a wee lad we always were sure that FBI meant Female Body Inspector. Had a badge that said so. Anybody else that old?

    James, the small business owner is hemmed in on all sides but by the same token there are options available to he/she that are unavailable to Joesephine Sixer, the wage earner on a W-2 and withholding.

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