Michigan Farm Faces Closure After Spraying Human Sewage on Vegetables

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Westend61 via Getty Images)

The importance of washing your produce before eating it cannot be stressed enough. It’s not just because of the bugs hiding in your favorite fruits and vegetables, either. Washing produce rinses away soil, pesticides, and microbes. A little cold water can protect you from a variety of potentially deadly illnesses.

If you still aren’t convinced, consider this: a farm in Michigan was just discovered to have sold vegetables fertilized with human sewage to local grocery stores. The farm, Michigan Kuntry Gardens, was ordered to shut its doors, of course, but the farmer’s “oversight” is sickening proof that you never know what might be lurking on your produce.

On September 28, farm owner Andy Stutzman approached health officials with the distressing news. He had accidentally poured untreated human waste on his crops.

According to Stutzman, the sewage was not mixed in with the other fertilizers. Instead, the waste containers from the outdoor restroom were dumped into the field in February. The field was then plowed in April.

“The human sewage was only a very small portion on a five by five area,” Stutzman assured Daily Mail. “It wasn’t properly disposed. It did get out in the field. To be exact, I’d say four gallons of product.”

“It was underneath,” he continued. “It was not contacting any fruits or vegetables.”

Michigan Farm Sold Contaminated Produce for Months

So, you might be thinking, this happened in the spring. The farmer was caught in the spring, right? And if you are, you’re half right. It did happen in the spring – however, the farmer didn’t admit to his mistake until the fall.

The farm sold contaminated produce to local grocery stores for months before the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development learned of the disturbing error.

“During a routine produce safety inspection, MDARD staff identified that Kuntry Gardens was using raw, untreated human waste on the fields where produce was grown for sale to local grocery stores and direct sales,” the health department wrote in a statement. That statement was released on October 3, a full eight months after the initial incident.

The MDARD ordered that Kuntry Gardens shut down immediately and indefinitely. Unfortunately, however, the damage was done. The Michigan stores impacted by the farm’s mistake did what they could do to assuage customer concerns, but the incident no doubt caused a great deal of panic in the community.

Andy Stutzman remains insistent that it was a simple mistake. “It wasn’t used for fertilizers,” he said. “It was an oversight and it wasn’t properly disposed of and we are taking the steps [to ensure] that it doesn’t happen again.”

Thankfully, no illnesses have been reported thus far, according to the MDARD. They did advise, however, that consuming human waste can lead to serious health conditions such as hepatitis, rotavirus, and E coli.