Post by Nancy Shute, The Salt at NPR Food (3/28/13)
Deadly microbes like Salmonella and E. coli can lurk on the surface of spinach, lettuce and other fresh foods. But many more benign microbes also flourish there, living lives of quiet obscurity, much like the tiny Whos in Dr. Seuss's Whoville. Until now.
Scientists at the University of Colorado have taken what may be the first broad inventory of the microbes that live on strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes and eight other popular fresh foods.
It turns out the invisible communities living on our food vary greatly, depending on the type, and whether it's conventional or organic.
Mung bean sprouts, for one, harbor very different bacteria than alfalfa sprouts. Grapes, apples and peaches house a greater variety of bacteria than veggies. And mushrooms are living in a microbial room of their own, sharing very few bacteria with the other foods tested.