Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grocery Shopping with the Kids

Check out my recent guest blog post on Dr. Fuhrman's blog:

Some afterthoughts on the same topic:

For those who are a little grossed out by the idea of your child eating unwashed veggies in the grocery store, here are a few things to think about:

- In nearly all stores that sell produce (not farmers markets, but certainly supermarkets and health food stores), the veggies are being periodically sprayed with water. That's pretty much what I do when I wash veggies at home (with the exception of stuff that grows underground, which requires scrubbing or peeling, and some veggies that really love dirt, like leeks and spinach), so I think that counts.

- If you're buying organic, local produce, especially from small (non-industrial) farms that don't send their produce to processing facilities, you have much less chance of getting produce contaminated with anything really nasty, like salmonella or e. coli. It is in processing facilities that widespread contamination occurs. Incidentally, salmonella and e. coli are both types of bacteria, and can therefor only be removed/destroyed with cooking. If you cook every fruit and vegetable that you consume, then you're incredibly safe. If not, then whether you wash your produce or not, you're at about the same risk of getting these illnesses. Still, it's a good idea to wash your produce, just to get some of the lesser nasties off. Just keep in mind that washed produce is not sterile.

One note of caution: if you live in an area where there are lots of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) or animal processing plants, there is a much greater likelihood that bacteria such as salmonella or e. coli exist in both your local produce and your drinking water. This is because disease spreads easily in CAFOs (yes, even with all the antibiotics these animals receive), since they are, as their name implies, concentrated. These diseases are even more easily spread in a processing plant where infected animals pass through the same machinery that non-infected animals do, distributing bacteria throughout the plant. Water run-off from these farming and processing operations ends up in ground water, absorbed by plants, and can trickle into the water supply. Scary stuff! If you live in such a place, cooking everything is essential! Hopefully, you live somewhere else.

So, that was a real downer end to an otherwise optimistic post. I apologize for that, and hope you'll reflect more on the former than the latter.

Happy Earth Day, all!!! Make a difference and buy local today!

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