LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Onions intended as supplemental feed for cattle were plundered after a person discovered the piles and posted about it on social media, a New Mexico rancher said.
A person stumbled across the more than 30,000 pounds (13,600 kilograms) of onions in a desert area west of Las Cruces and had assumed the vegetables were dumped as waste, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported .
The person posted to Facebook encouraging other area residents to go grab some.
The onions were “culled” onions that didn’t meet grade requirements of a nearby onion packing plant, Barker Produce, and thus unable to be sold.
Rancher James Montoya requested a load of culled onions from Barker for his cattle, said Barker Produce Vice President Brandon Barker.
Montoya said the onions were free; he simply had to pay the shipping costs.
Montoya said the onions were placed on land that he leases from the state. He said some people were filling the beds of pickup trucks with onions to haul away.
“We didn’t put them out here for the public to have access to,” he said. “But the public came. They were leaving their trash, beer bottles.”
Asked whether onions dumped in the desert would be safe for people to eat, New Mexico Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Kristie Garcia said the department would have to know more about how the circumstances surrounding the onions before being able to say.
“(W)e cannot make a determination regarding their marketability or safety for human consumption,” Garcia said.
Montoya said he moved the remaining onions Monday to an undisclosed location.