Washing carrots before putting them out for share pickup. Photo by Fred Delventhal
All of the vegetables and fruits we grow are certified organic. We encourage a wide diversity of animals, insects, and microbial life throughout the fields and forest on the farm. We do not use petroleum-based pesticides or fertilizers, we do not plant genetically-modified seed, and we closely manage our fertility and tillage to prevent erosion of nutrients and soil. By using very little fertilizer, we have lower yields, but it eliminates the chance of high nitrates in our produce, which is especially a concern for anyone making baby food.
We have never known of an incidence of illness from E. coli or other dangerous pathogens on our produce. However, it would be sensible to follow the same practice of washing or cooking our produce that one would follow for any other fresh farm product. We do have cattle on the farm, but we do not use their manure on our vegetable fields, nor do we feed them grain, which is what makes cattle prone to dangerous bacterial infection in their digestive systems. Quite a few wild animals, such as deer, rabbits, birds, and groundhogs, do enter the fields, and they present a similarly low risk of transmitting dangerous pathogens.