Are Your Healthy Food Choices Still Making You Sick? (4 Steps To Prevent Food Borne Illness)
Tired of hearing the news talk about how your healthy food choices, like melons or organic spinach, have been linked to food-borne illnesses, such as salmonella? Me too.
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A big portion of this problem has to do with the very unsustainable farming practices put into place in recent decades that promote mass production over care and quality. Excessive use of pesticides and herbicides, inconsistent or improper use of even organic fertilizers and careless shipping practices are leading to more and more cases of E.coli, salmonella and other food poisoning.
The answer is not in pointing fingers however. Yes, things need to change, but we can create those changes and inspire the changes in others with these four simple steps.
1. Choose local and organic whenever possible.
Local farmers know their customers, making them much more accountable to the quality (or contamination) of their food. You'll also find small farmers are like all local businesses, closely connected to and invested in their land, their food and the practices that will sustain them over the long-run.
Not all local farmers will follow sustainable practices though, so it's important to know your farmer, visit their farm, ask questions and get involved to ensure your healthy food choices stay healthy.
In addition to knowing where your food is coming from are the advantages of organic food. In the article linked there, I describe how organic food actually has more nutrients than its non-organic counterpart, is safer with less pesticide exposure, and has many other personal, local and global benefits.
By choosing local, organic options whenever possible you'll increase the safety of your healthy food choices dramatically. Click here to learn ways to make it more affordable.
2. Choose less meat, dairy and eggs.
Humans are omnivorous by nature, meaning we're biologically designed to thrive by consuming plant-based AND animal-based products.
BUT (and this is a big but!) most meat, dairy and eggs on the market are a FAR cry from the food we evolved to eat. Hormone-laden, antiobiotic-stuffed, corn-fed, and caged...animal products are not even the same product they were a few centuries ago. And most Western cultures eat far more than we actually need to biologically thrive, which contributes to food borne diseases and other illnesses.
Cutting back on the amount of meat, dairy and eggs you eat means increases the amount of fruits, veggies and whole grains you replace them with, which means less likelihood of contaminated animal products. When you do choose animal products, make it local and organic just as described above.
3. Cut off the ends of fruits and veggies.
Bacteria, dirt, contaminants and pesticides tend to get trapped in the ends of fruits and vegetable - at the stem and blossom sites.
When you cut away the ends you remove a good portion of possible food borne diseases and other contaminates from your healthy food choices. The same can be said for peeling away the skin of many foods, such as an apple or zucchini.
Important: Only slice into or peel your fruit or veggie AFTER washing it to avoid contaminating the inner flesh of the food.
4. Properly clean your fruits and veggies.
While studies have shown that dusting your apple on your shirt does have a small impact, it's not the same as properly washing before eating.
The key word here is "properly".
Done correctly, properly washing your fruits and veggies (even things like bananas and avocados) can reduce your risk of food borne diseases by 98% or more.
Here's how to clean your fruit and veggies the most effective way:
- Skip the veggie washes. Researchers from Tennessee State University have found they are neither effective or necessary. But they are pricey and may leave unhealthy residue behind.
- Use a veggie brush. A veggie brush with only water removes most contaminates from your healthy food choices. When that's not enough or when a brush isn't possible...
- Wash with a vinegar solution. Fill a spray bottle with 3 parts clean water and one part distilled white vinegar. Misting your fruits and veggies and then rinsing under water (or in a bowl of water to recycle it outdoors) removes 98% of pesticide residue, bacteria and other contaminates. The vinegar odor or flavor rinses off and evaporates quickly.
- Soak certain foods. Some of your healthy food choices, such as leafy greens or broccoli, can be soaked in a bowl of water with vinegar (3:1 ratio) for a couple minutes and rinsed in a colander.
With just a little research on your local options and up to a minute or two of extra prep time you can ensure your healthy food choices don't make you and your family sick.