Momma wasn’t kidding when she said wash your vegetables and fruits

Wash your fruits and vegetables

One thing I can be sure of is: Mom is always right!  Growing up, my mother would nag  gently remind us kids to wash our produce.  It almost took away the excitement of eating it.  Do I really have to go through the trouble?   Like a normal child, rebellion was a fun part of my day.  I would grab a bowl full of grapes and run, after all a little dirt can’t hurt anyone right?  Now I have to convince my own children of this simple reminder.  But first, I needed to understand “why” myself.

There are obvious benefits in washing and sometimes even scrubbing your fruit and veggies (peel and no peel) This includes using certain food safety precautions just like you would do with raw items.   The pathogens can even form into little groups and make communities called biofilm to coat the vegetable or fruit and protects the bacteria from harm.

Gently scrub and rinse

Not only can washing and peeling protect you, it really enhances the taste.  (Now comes the embarrassing confession) I can say that I have always thought a peach was just supposed to have fuzzies.  I didn’t comprehend that gently washing and rubbing the peach under water, will get rid of the fuzz.  This was the very reason why I never liked peaches.  I still don’t understand why the fuzz is there in the first place?

It wasn’t a rule that mom was putting on us children to take away our fun.  It’s a gloomy reality.  We are all aware of the recent cantaloupe contamination, marking it the deadliest food outbreak in over a decade.   In the US, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1809 people die each year from pathogens transmitted via food.  Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foodborne_illness_outbreaks_in_the_United_States to see food outbreaks since 1963.  This is a serious concern.

 5-10 strangers have touched your produce before you eat it.   This number increases when you consider the  farm workers, transportation,delivery and countless people seeking the best apple at the super market…a perfect example was a woman sorting through green beans at the grocery store today.  Let’s call her Sally.  Sally was diligently filtering the good and bad green beans, when a violent coughing episode caught the best of her.  She continued to hack all over the produce.  Lord knows the distance those germs traveled.  Now imagine the poor unsuspecting victim that puts those coughed on green beans into their bag, to later on rationalize (like I do) that I don’t need to wash the vegetables….after all the cooking process will get rid of the bugs right?

Tasty…

Produce is covered in pesticides and other harmful toxins.

Pesticides can still be found on fruits and vegetables even after being washed and peeled.  In the last decade, the increase of demand for vegetables and fruit has put a strain on the food world.  But it’s a positive strain because it means the possibility of making a lot of money.  Bigger yield, controlled soil and seed, and mass production.  It is so demanding that trucks must cover a 1500 miles journey just to bring your weekly fruits and vegetables.  Consequently, the fast paced manufacturing practices are creating havoc on the earth and its resources, unnecessary spending on gas, packaging, and labor.  Our land, water, soil, and health are becoming victims.  What about focusing the attention on correct animal tending practices, maintaining and restoring the integrity of soil, water quality awareness, and reduce pesticide use?   Reacquainting ourselves with the old “new world” thinking.   The demand for food is crippling the need for quality.

“Pesticides are toxic. They are designed to kill things and most are not good for you” said Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group. Environmental Working Group spokesman Alex Formuzis says the pesticides they’re coated with have been linked to nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone system disruption and IQ deficits in children.
U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists are exploring irradiation (food treatment under review that will “zap” and kill internalized pathogens.)  “Irradiation exposes food to a source of electron beams, creating positive and negative charges. It disrupts the genetic material of living cells, inactivating parasites and destroying pathogens and insects in food, including E. coli and Salmonella.”  Though some activist groups continue to speak against irradiation, consumer confidence in the application has grown steadily through the years as studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses, says Christine Bruhn, Ph.D., who focuses on consumer issues in food safety and quality at the University of California at Davis. “Sixty to 90 percent of consumers indicate that they would buy irradiated food when told of the benefits of the process and the endorsement of health authorities,” Bruhn says.  Would you object to produce that has been irradiated?   Are you concerned with the possible outcomes of using this application?  Or does the risk of food contamination outweigh the risks of irradiation?
The number of lives lost to food poisoning is alarming and very sad.  The fear is understandable to want to create a solution.  But is this really dealing with the issue?  Zapping fresh produce with electron beams killing the good and bad things in it does not make sense.  What would this do to our health?  How would it affect the general public?
I find this disappointing that as a consumer (and as a mother), I must choose between local and organic vs. toxic and potentially harmful.   Raising a family of five on limited income is a burden:  I am learning how to take responsibility for my family’s health. My top priority is their health.  The foundation I lay for my boys now is critical for their future.  I must choose carefully.
However, there is a boundary, a balance that I learning how to create.  I could go completely OCD on the vegetables and produce, scrubbing away the fear of what’s inside, but to be fearful is not healthy.  There are so many possible harmful influences introduced to their bodies, even down to the shampoo.  But where do you draw the line?   I do not encourage any one to stop buying fruits and vegetables because of the possibility of contamination.  For now, I will take life one day a time.  Ask questions and try to the make the best decisions for my boys.
What I can do is use precaution, and hope for a brighter food future for my family...
  • Know where your food comes from.
  • Explore the possibility of buying locally grown produce, this will support other families and bring you top quality
  • Grow your own food if you can
  • Be picky when you choose your produce- avoid bruised produce.
  • Some people suggest using  one part vinegar to three parts water (good for removing bacteria, and may help break down wax, too)
  • Wash and peel, wash hands and counter tops after handling
Sources:
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One thought on “Momma wasn’t kidding when she said wash your vegetables and fruits

  1. Excellent post. Thought-provoking, compelling and oh so very on target! I’m going to share on our facebook pages @ http://www.facebook.com/lifeschoolinc. and http://www.facebook.com/fuel4lifeconnect. One of my client’s, and one of the wellness gals that helps me run Fuel4Life, Dr. Heather Robertson, has a biz called In8Wellness and she has a fab recipe for a healthy wash. I’m going to post along with your link.
    And a heartfelt “Thank You” for the Follow on my LifeSchool Inc. blog. I look forward to sharing along the journey!
    Jennifer

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