When Allie Graynard’s mother found her 14-year-old daughter doubled over in pain at the local farmers market in Daryville, PA, her heart sank: “I took one look and knew immediately – food poisoning.”
For the rest of the townsfolk, the situation was not so cut-and-dry. “This is a case of bacteria being bacteria,” said Brian Helfer, who farmed and sold the spinach that was accused of having salmonella. “Is it gross those Salmonellas (sic) gave her food poisoning? Sure. But did she play her part in it? I think so.”
Helfer insists the food poisoning was “consensual,” citing the girl’s reputation as a vegetarian: “She couldn’t get enough of the stuff. She was always at the market, touching all the Swiss chard. Sometimes, she would even take some home with her.”
Before the authorities had a chance to investigate, the remaining greens were shipped out to a dining hall at a nearby state university. According to produce truck driver Mark Haley, “It’s her word against the bag of spinach, and spinach can’t talk, so we’ll never know.”
Brian’s renowned farm stand scored three blue ribbons in last year’s statewide Organic Soil Competition and is a source of local pride for the town. “It’s shameful what that girl said about Brian’s produce. It could ruin a stand’s reputation,” said loyal shopper Marcia O’Callan. “She owes that spinach an apology.”
When asked what she would do if her own daughter had gotten sick she shrugged and said, “Morgan doesn’t do salad.”
Graynard stands behind her decision to call out the spinach for being “rancid” despite the harassment she has received. As a result, she has found her reusable cloth shopping bag filled with petri dishes accompanied by a note that read: “PROVE IT.” At a local pumpkin-carving contest, one family sported matching t-shirts that pictured leafy greens and the caption: “Allie Likes it Roughage.” A Facebook page dedicated to the spinach contains quotes accusing Allie and girls like her of having a weak “gag reflex.” The page currently has over 10,000 likes.
Allie and her mother are considering moving out of town, and now shop exclusively at the grocery store.