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It isn’t too late to eat a cleaner plate

August 12, 2010

Just because we’re half way through the year doesn’t mean you’ve missed the boat on your New Year’s resolution of eating cleaner.  With more food recalls in the last month than Lindsay Lohan’s days in jail, there’s never been a better time to join the Cleaner Plate Club.  Here’s 5 to sink your teeth into: 

1. Your food may be filthy  Before it reaches you, it’s traveled an average of 1,500 miles and has been touched by at least 20 sets of hands. All fresh produce may contain contaminants from soils and dirt residue, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and waxes, which can lead to serious and life-threatening illnesses, such as Salmonella and E. coli.  Even ‘pre-washed’ salad comes with it’s own bag of risks.  Four recalls of bagged lettuce and spinach in the last 3 months is nothing to sneeze at.  And if you think eating ‘organic’ produce means you don’t need to wash it, take a look at these carrots.  Organically grown and cakes with dirt and manure, from our local fresh grocer.

2. Protect your Family and their plates. American consumers are exposed to toxic chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POP) as many as 70 times a day! POP exposure has been associated with immune system suppression, nervous and hormonal system disorders, reproductive system damage, and various cancers, including breast cancer. Research ingredients, shipping practices, and handling procedures of your local supermarket before you buy. Where possible, support local stores by buying organic.

3. Clean foods taste better. Because rinsing is just not good enough, sometimes it’s necessary to use a high-quality food wash. Certain food washes are scientifically proven in removing wax and pesticide residue while killing bacteria, and without altering flavor or taste. When selecting a food wash, look for natural ingredients such as citric acid and sea salt, while trying to avoid alcohol, as this can be unsafe if consumed, particularly for children. Also, wash the surface of cutting boards, countertops and hands regularly when preparing uncooked food, including produce, eggs, poultry, meat and seafood.

4. Proper procedures = happier life. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service the four keys to food safety are: CLEAN (wash hands, utensils, and cutting boards before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs) SEPARATE (keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood apart), COOK (use a food thermometer — you can’t tell food is cooked safely by how it looks) and CHILL (keep leftovers refrigerated at 40 °F or below). With proper attention to food handling and adequate washing techniques, you can greatly reduce your risk of food borne illness and exposure to potentially harmful contaminants.

5. You are what you eat! You wouldn’t eat the dirt from under a random stranger’s fingernails, or lick the dirt from the bottom of your shoe, so why would you eat fruit and vegetables with potential life-threatening viruses and bacteria trapped under their surfaces? In March 2010, Consumer Reports advised people to buy pre-packaged vegetables as far from their use-by date as possible, wash the greens yourself even if they claim to be “prewashed” or “tripled-washed,” and prevent cross contamination by keeping greens away from raw meats. 

Think before you bite and eat cleaner at every meal. For more information on eating cleaner, visit www.eatcleaner.com.

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