Philosophy of feeding: Dealing with germs

Spinach…tomatoes…cookies?  Is there anything in the store that’s safe to eat?  Actually, whether it comes from the store or your own back yard, common everyday precautions need to be taken.  In the case of anonymous food created in unseen facilities somewhere in the world, ever more stringent care is necessary (it is interesting to note that in the case of the cookie dough recall, no lives were lost, the 66 cases of infection were spread over 28 states – AND THEY ALL ATE UNCOOKED COOKIE DOUGH!  Baking would have killed the bacteria).

On a morning TV show, the topic was germs.  One guest was a lady who took some extraordinary measures to ensure the cleanliness of her home and workplace after the hospitalization of her two children due to an infection.  When the expert reported on what was found in her home, it was all she could do not to break down in tears.  You had to feel for this woman.  After all her efforts at home and work, bacterial and viral colonies were found throughout.  What was she to do?

You had to applaud her efforts, but one thing was never considered.  How about her children’s immune systems?  Being children, they were probably given rounds of antibiotics for any number of childhood illnesses.  Were the beneficial bacteria necessary for defense ever replaced?  Antibiotics kill everything.  It is of prime importance that beneficial bacteria be replaced EVERY time.  Chlorinated water and daily stress can also decrease their numbers so supplementing daily or at least 3 – 4 times a week would be helpful.

“The best offense is a good defense” is an old saying but it is still very true.  Germs have been, are now, and shall be with us.  We live in a symbiotic relationship with the beneficial ones that help keep us healthy and in a constant battle with the others that are trying to kill us – who shall win is up for debate.  Bugs, germs, whatever you may want to call them, are a part of life.  When it comes to the kitchen though, you might be surprised how often you could be an unwitting agent working on behalf of the enemy.  Too much scrubbing, disinfecting, and spraying can sometimes do more harm than good since the good bugs are being killed along with the bad.

Bacteria and virus – their travel plans
The bottom of your purse, your shoes, keyboards, your hands, cell phones, ATM machines, elevator buttons, door knobs, your kids, the list could go on and on.  You could get all paranoid and try living in a plastic bubble or you could take some proactive steps to reduce your exposure:

  • You were not the first one there
    We live on a planet with billions of other people.  There is a very good chance someone touched something before you did.  Wash your hands regularly and use wipes or gels when you can’t (they do NOT replace regular hand washing).
  • Watch where you put your purse
    If you put your purse on the floor, someone’s shoe was probably there.  People wear shoes into the bathroom.  Do you need a diagram?  If you can’t keep your purse off the floor, then keep it off the kitchen counter and off your desk.
  • Kids are germy people
    Children get everywhere, touch anything, and then their hands go right into their mouths or all over shared toys.  Regular washing and using a chlorine bleach/water soak once a week on the toys helps.

The food in your kitchen
Surprisingly, you could stand a better chance of finding bad germs in your kitchen sink than in your bathroom!  Meats can contain E.coli bacteria, eggs can harbor salmonella, and that shopping bag was probably on your car seat.

The FDA advised consumers to throw the products away.  It said cooking the dough was not recommended because consumers might get the bacteria on their hands and cooking surfaces.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

  •  Tests were done on various types of cutting boards and one result was that wooden ones were best because the surfaces tested cleaner.  Later on they realized the reason for that was because the germy solution they tested had soaked into the boards.  The recommendation was changed to safer boards which could be placed in the dishwasher.
  • Keep a roll of freezer paper handy.  Before preparing meats and fish, cover the counter with the freezer wrap.  Then use disposable gloves to handle the meat.  When everything is done, dispose of the paper, gloves, and clean anything you may have touched like cupboard doors and drawer pulls.  Wash the sink and faucets.  Use chlorine bleach to disinfect sponges and dishcloths.

Wash your hands before and after handling any food.  Ensure that all food preparation surfaces and utensils are clean before you start.  These steps seem simple enough but are often forgotten.

Good guys – bad guys
Well, good or bad is largely a matter of perspective.  Bacteria and viruses behave a little differently but as far as living with them goes,they are basically the same.  The term good or bad depends on how they interact with us: if they help; good. if they don’t; bad.  The challenge is to keep the numbers balanced in your favor.  The tips listed above are by no means a complete list but do provide a good place to start.

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Links are provided so that you may investigate for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

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