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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Avoiding Food Borne Illness

The other night, Lance and I were sitting and watching the early news. Usually I don't bother watching news. It's often depressing or I sit yelling at the television because of some wild statement. That night wasn't much of an exception. The news casters started talking about the new Food Safety bill (please do some reading - there are some who say it opens the door to eliminating seed saving and will make it nearly impossible for small sustainable farms to function) and made a segway into people getting ill from a local sprouting provider. They of course sensationalized the story and talked about how common it is to get ill from sprouts. They had a really small blip about how no one had gone to the ER or been hospitalized.

Last year, I was hospitalized twice from food contamination. I have lupus, so I'm much more sensitive than normal people. It wasn't from sprouts, meat, eggs (I was on a vegan diet by then), or any of the usual suspects. Because of the particular bacteria and parasite, my doctor felt it may have been either the mangoes or avocados from Central America. I thought I was really careful with my food by either soaking it in a vinegar solution, or washing with antibacterial soap if the skins are inedible. I don't think people understand how frequently we are exposed to parasites and bacteria. Most people don't notice any symptoms at all while their immune system comes to the rescue. Some people may think they have the "stomach flu" or a stomach virus. Because of how common I was told this exposure it, I did some reading and discovered that one of the best ways to prevent bacterial contamination and even remove pesticide residue is to use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution (food grade).

Food grade hydrogen peroxide is available in most health food stores. I purchase mine from To be fair to the local evening news station, sprouts (particularly alfalfa) are a fairly notorious source of e. coli and other potentially harmful bacteria and molds. As sprouts germinate, they generate quite a bit of heat. If you've ever done any of your own sprouting and reached your hand into the jar, it really is quite warm. Combine that with moisture and it's a great place for bacteria to live and multiply. Rinsing the sprouts three times a day is helpful, but I spritz them with food grade hydrogen peroxide after they have finished sprouting and continue to rinse them once a day each day they are in the fridge.

Please consider using food grade peroxide and/or giving your fresh fruits and veggies a 10 minute soak in water and a little apple cider vinegar if you intend to eat them raw. Raw foods are wonderful for you and I am not encouraging people to avoid them by any means. Because our environment is so sterile and we no longer work in the soil with a lot of bacteria exposure for our bodies to develop a resistance, it's now wise to take a few extra precautions.

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