How clean is your food?

A while back, my sister saw me washing my “triple rinsed” organic spring mix and
exclaimed, “you ARE supposed to wash them even though they’re rinsed, right?
‘Jane’ [some friend] yelled at me for washing my pre-washed veggies!” There are 2 things to consider here:

One:
Many incidences of food borne illnesses have been reported even here in the U.S. We often mistaken our technologically advanced society to be clean and free of infectives often found in lesser developed countries.  However, it’s true. Many of my clients have had parasites, flukes, and bacteria from a less-than-clean meal. It took a lot of knowledge to really understand how badly these critters can harm us. I’m not talking about mile long worms (did you hear about the guinea worms on NPR today?) but improper hygiene leads fecal to food contamination of many many (sometime antibiotic resistant) bugs to make our insides their home.

Yes I am talking about washing your hands… but, also about cleaning the food that may have been touch by someone who didn’t wash their hands! Consider this scenario: Picture yourself using a public bathroom. Whether you hover over the toilet or use whatever protection from the communal toilet, we all assume that you take the next step to clean yourself. What do you do next after walking out that stall? Look in the mirror and fix your hair or directly head to wash your hands? Now imagine someone else, the person who is preparing your food. This person knows to wash hands after taking care of business and let’s assume that he/she does. But what does he/she do in the time between wiping and washing? Re-apply make-up? Tighten the apron? Even if this person goes straight to the sink, what does he/she touch after washing? The door handle touched by the previous person who didn’t wash his/her hands? And then does this person handle your food before it got to your table? Hummmm….The rest is up to your imagination.

You need to re-think eating out and really wonder about the hygiene beliefs and overall health beliefs of the establishments that you frequent. 

Two:
Okay. So how about when we prepare our own food?

Is water enough to clean our fruits and veggies? Even organic?  How clean was the packaging facility that source our local markets of the fish, the chicken and beef?  Yes. Even the free range, organic, hormone-free, anti-biotic free meats.

Our moms may have washed everything with water, vinegar, castille soap, hydrogen peroxide, some even with Clorox(!!). Many holistic health gurus recommend grapefruit seed extract to clean our produce though it is controversial.  And then there are various products made mainly from citrus and plant surfactant like this one which cleans what may have been on other people’s hands who touch your food in addition to surface pesticides and wax on fruit. But does soaking our produce clean our them of groundwater contamination that may have been in the soil that nurtured our greens?  What’s On My Food educates us about the various chemical compounds that are contaminating our crops and thus slowing down our bodies.

So the point is to 1) eliminate much of what we can control to lower of risk of food-borne infections and 2) clean our food well in order to minimize our bodies need to detoxify harmful chemical.

Some tips:

  • Wash your hand often. With chemical free soap. Yes. Read the ingredients in your soap too. And avoid the antibacterial ones. These may contribute to increasing bacterial resistance.
  • Clean your food WELL… even if you buy organic.
  • Try to buy organic… yes it’s more expensive but 1) it tastes better, 2) you’re supporting healthier agriculture 3) it’s an investment in your health!
  • When you eat out, especially at places that might not emphasize cleanliness, order something COOKED.

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