It ought to come as no surprise that my life is full of a lot of odd quests . I am serving as a host of sorts for a dinner club, and chose the theme of food with a story because I like telling stories. Again, this ought to come as a no surprise as most people who know me have seen me frequently tell humorous stories. Of course, I had a particular story in mind to tell about my love of alfalfa sprouts and where it came from, and in that light I wanted specifically to have that product in the salad, but as is often the case in my life, what I tend to think of as fairly straightforward longings and wishes often turn out to be far from straightforward in the way that they work themselves out in my life. I often wonder why that is, and ponder if there is some deeper importance to the fact that the things I want, which I view to be simple and straightforward, do not show themselves to be so.
Why is it that alfalfa sprouts should be so hard to find? Starting in about 2009 or so, at least by my understanding, there was a series of scares involving e. coli and salmonella. The issue at hand is not the plant itself–one can easily find seeds to grow one’s own sprouts, but rather how the plant is harvested. It appears that as farms cannot ensure the cleanliness of their plants, that stores have stopped carrying the item altogether. Some of the stores–I and others looked at more than half a dozen–were very forthright about the health concerns they had that kept them from stocking the item, and some of them were far more discreet about it and just said tersely that they didn’t stock the item at all, or simply didn’t show the item and relied upon the shopper to guess or understand the reason why. Many people, I suppose, do not continue to long for things that they do not see, but some of us know what we want and continue to want it regardless of whether it is available to us or not. Perhaps that is the stuff that tragedies are made of.
After all, I come from a family of farmers myself. My fondness for alfalfa sprouts springs from two roots. First, I became familiar with the food while developing an early taste for salads. Although I am a picky eater, I have always enjoyed vegetables and have been thankful to have acquired at least some healthy tastes from my youth, seeing as how many of the foods I grew up loving are not always so healthy. The other root, aside from my love of eating, is the fact that my father’s family grew alfalfa sprouts. They used it as a cover for fallow ground that could then be ploughed into the ground to give it nutrients. It was also found as being very tasty by the local deer population, which would risk poachers to come out into open fields in order to eat the tasty sprouts. So not only I am fond of eating sprouts but so are deer–it cannot be a bad thing to enjoy eating what your prey likes to eat, so long as it is clean and you can digest it.
What layers do we have in terms of the absence of alfalfa sprouts? Well, the food is rich in Vitamin K and came to my attention early on given its use for the blood. So the food has health concerns for me, aside from its taste. For another, the food is deeply related to farming and the health of land that might otherwise be drained of resources when not allowed to properly rest. Not only that but the commercial use of alfalfa sprouts allows farmers some profit even when they are not growing their normal food or commercial crops. The troubles with alfalfa sprouts spring from the labor practices involved in much farming in the United States and other countries, namely the poor sanitation practices of underpaid and often exploited agricultural labor. A family farm can keep pretty pristine conditions for alfalfa growing, as can an environmentally conscious person growing the plant from seeds themselves, but commercial farming has not generally regarded the well-being of farm labor as among its chief matters of importance. And as a result, one cannot simply buy alfalfa sprouts from a store. For everything there is a consequence, after all.
 See, for example: