I live in Lower Saxony, Germany. If you had never heard of this area before, you will have by now. The region has been propelled, for tragic reasons into the public eye recently. As I write, 25 people have lost their lives to the E-Coli (German: EHEC) outbreak.
Over the last few weeks we have been warned off tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and in the last few days bean sprouts. All of which, have since been declared "probably" safe after all. But probably is not putting minds at rest.
Meanwhile, as the confusion continues over what we can safely consume, there has been an outbreak of Scarlet Fever in Finje's kindergarten. I feel like the whole of Lower Saxony should be painted with a big red cross and declared "unclean".
Touching all that is wood, my family remains fighting fit. I've never been one to take much heed of food scares. I remember stubbornly continuing to eat eggs in the 80s when Edwina Curry warned against salmonella and I still enjoy Green Top raw milk when I'm in the UK.
But now I have a child.
A child, much to my irritation, who, in direct opposition to her parents, is quite picky when it comes to eating. One of the few green foodstuffs she allows to pass her lips is cucumber. Just recently we have managed to convince her of the deliciousness of tomatoes. Delighted by her acceptance of salad as part of her nutritional intake, we are now having to remove them from the daily menu.
Personally sceptical about the almost daily revelations about what we can safely eat and what we shouldn't go near with a barge-pole, I'm nevertheless not prepared to take the risk where my daughter is concerned. At the same time, scaring her off her newly found acceptance of salad stuffs is not my intention either.
Pondering over how to get around this problem, I was yet again reminded of the Power of the Peer as Finje returned from Kindergarten and immediately began to ransack the fridge. After inquiring about her intentions she exclaimed that cucumbers were "evil" and can "kill you even if you touch them!"
"Is that right?" I asked, stalling for time and wondering how best to convince her that was not the case (anymore).
"Yes", she insisted, "and if you eat them you get E-Feck!"
Well, that's one way of putting it.