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Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

Posted by violetisme none (My Page) on
Thu, May 17, 12 at 21:02

Hi all,

I have a strange question I'm hoping I can get an answer to.

I'm currently growing a variety of tomatoes using Foxfarm's Ocean Forest potting soil. This mix has fish and crab meal in addition to many other nutritious ingredients.

I want to give some tomatoes to my mom when they're ripe, but my mom has a severe seafood allergy. Do you think it would be dangerous for my mom to eat these tomatoes given that they are being fertilized with fish/crab nutrients? I'm hoping that the seafood would be broken down enough where she could safely consume the tomatoes, but I don't know for sure.

I'd really appreciate any help with this.

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

I think you'll find that most would recommend that this this a question for her doctor. Seafood allergies aren't something to risk.

But they are a reaction to specific proteins in the shellfish and I can't imagine how those proteins would even be in the soil mix since hopefully it is composted first, much less how they could be absorbed by the tomatoes but I'm no physician.

Of course the easy solution would be to simply change to one of the standard, commonly used potting mixes. The use of potting soils isn't recommended for use in containers anyway.

Dave


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

Why would you risk using that mix if it might be a danger at all to you mom? I don't understand that at all. Use something else. JMO.


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

No danger at all.


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

If the soil smells fishy, I wouldn't risk it. If seafood allergies are like peanut allergy, any trace could trigger a reaction. Ask her doctor, and/or change to a different mix (after bleaching the pot and any tools) for a new crop, at least one plant, for your mom's use.

Just wondering - I thought these allergies were hereditary - is she the only one in the family?


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

If it were crab shells, or anything with chitin in it there wouldn't be that much of a problem b'c it takes so long for those to break down.

But it's meal you're talking about and that can break down to component parts of various proteins, etc., and those can be taken up by the roots just like any other nutrient that breaks down and then be used for building the structural part of the plant as well as the fruit development.

I would not take a chance b'c seafood allergies like many others can kill, as I'm sure you know.

So that's my opinion but I think as others have said, you'd feel better, perhaps, if you talked to her allergist MD. If it were me I wouldn't bother and just use a different growing medieum.

Of course I have no idea how long your plants have been in this medium and how big they are already.

Carolyn, who taught Immunology for many years and the whole field of allergies is very complex since not all are inherited, far from it, and all it takes in some cases is a prior exposure to a certain protein antigen to trigger a reaction the next time that substance is ingested, or breathed in or makes contact with the skin depending on what the allergen is.


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

Thanks for all the replies!

@digdirt: Yep, the seafood meal is composted first, but I appreciate the suggestion to ask her doctor--I'll do that. Just curious, why do you say potting soil is not recommended for containers? My potting soil bag states that is what it's supposed to be used for.

@dirtguy50: I started growing tomatoes and other veggies for just my household and thankfully, no one here has the seafood allergy problem. Ocean Forest has always given me the best results, which is why I use it. After I saw that I was going to have lots of extra tomatoes, I started thinking about who I could gift them to and my mom came to mind. I definitely wouldn't risk giving anything harmful to my mom, which is why I came on the forum to ask this question and am also checking with a couple of health professionals. Thanks.

@ajsmama: I really like the idea of growing a separate pot of tomatoes in a different mix just for my mom; thanks for the suggestion! Strangely enough, my mom is the only one that has severe food allergies. I'm grateful I didn't inherit them.

@Carolyn: Thanks for your helpful answer! So given that the tomatoes are popping now and have been potted in/fertilized with seafood I won't take any chances. I'll just grow some more tomatoes next year in a separate pot and mix.

This has been extremely helpful. Thanks all!


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

Doctors aren't trained in whether or not seafood based compost can trigger a seafood based allergy in tomato plants. Doctors study a lot but they aren't trained in the fine details of raising fruit.

Seems to me that plants break down proteins, they don't just stuffle them up from roots to fruit. But what do I know?


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

@digdirt: Yep, the seafood meal is composted first, but I appreciate the suggestion to ask her doctor--I'll do that. Just curious, why do you say potting soil is not recommended for containers? My potting soil bag states that is what it's supposed to be used for.

Sorry but that is pretty common knowledge among container gardeners - that containers should only be filled with soil-less mixes, not soil of any kind. Soil compacts in containers, develops drainage problems, leads to root rot, attracts pests, can cause damp-off fungus issues, and numerous other problems.

Despite what some manufacturers claim, numerous comparison studies have been done between soil-less and soil-based mixes in containers and is an issue often discussed on gardening forums in great detail, including this one. 90% of the time growers who report problems with their container grown plants discover it is the use of potting soil that is behind the issue.

Doctors aren't trained in whether or not seafood based compost can trigger a seafood based allergy in tomato plants.

That all depends on their specialty. While a GP may not have the knowledge an allergist is usually well informed as to the potential sources of food-issue problems.

Dave


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

Kamapuaa, you are so right! Years ago I went to a nutrition/wellness specialist who helped me get rid of so many medical problems with just simple changes to my diet. In fact, that's why I started my organic garden! Doctors just wanted to throw more medicine at me. Anyway, I'm digressing....

I actually just emailed this same specialist to see what she thinks. I will probably just grow another tomato plant in non-seafood soil and give some goodies to my mom to be absolutely safe, but I really want to find an answer to this question.

It's crazy what they try to sell to people in grocery stores now. Every year, my mom tells me she's having reactions to veggies that she previously had no problems with before. In my uneducated opinion, I think she's just having symptoms to the new pesticides and other chemicals that they spray on "food" each year.

Thanks!


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

@digdirt: I've been a container gardener for a few years and didn't know that was common knowledge. =)

Although Ocean Forest says it's a "potting soil," I don't know if actually has any soil in it. From their website (http://foxfarmfertilizer.com/products_soils1.html):
"Ocean Forest is a powerhouse blend of premium earthworm castings, bat guano, and Pacific Northwest sea-going fish and crab meal. Composted forest humus, sandy loam, and sphagnum peat moss..."

Regardless, this stuff is awesome and I've never had a problem using it.

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend!


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

Loam is definitely dirt.

I suspect forest humus and earthworm castings both probably contain some dirt as well.


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

I had this question myself, I switched to organic soil with chicken manure added instead of shellfish...what little research I found said that 1. people react to the proteins in shellfish 2. the proteins are broken down during composting 3. so there should be no problem. So far all I have growing in that is basil, and me and my father are both eating that basil right now, and we are both allergic. Ill let you know what happens.. I planted all my other herbs and veggies in the soil with chicken manure, just because the idea of shellfish makes me paranoid and why deal with it if I dont have to. If I would have read the first bag with the shellfish I problablly would have bought it. STILL what I've read says there is no problem....


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RE: Growing Tomatoes and Allergic Reaction Concerns

*wouldnt have bought it.


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