WIN-ning Wednesday: Cleaning Produce

There has been some buzz in the media about a recent food related E.coli outbreak in Germany that has caused 2,200 people to become ill and 22 people have died.  What’s also concerning is that the food in question is bean sprouts grown at an organic farm.  This is a really sad situation for the people affected by this, and certainly puts a lot of scrutiny on organic produce.

Since I’ve been recently posting about organic produce, I thought I’d continue with today’s post.  Especially in light of this recent event and to help give some further guidance on organic produce.

My flag certainly went up when I heard a local radio station reporting that the cause of the outbreak was an organic vegetable!  After reading a bit more about how the sprouts were grown I began to wonder just exactly how this contamination occured.

Reports are stating the sprouts were grown in large drums under a steam process that includes heat to help germinate the sprout seeds.  Unfortunately, this process could have created an opportunity for bacteria to grow.

The farm accused of the contamination is on the defence, stating that they do not use fertilizers in their growing process, nor do they have any animals (often a carrier or main source of e. coli) on the farm or use manure in their farming.

We have to remember that the laws and auditing of Organic Farms may not be as rigorous as we could hope.  In Europe, Asia and even in North America, standards are in the process of being created and not all Organic Farms are created equal.

Also, vegetables and fruit are “manufactured” after they are picked.  They are handled by workers, packaged, travel, etc.  At any point during this “processing” they can become contaminated.

So far, the import of any suspected contaminated food from Germany has been halted.

TO EAT ORGANIC OR NOT TO EAT ORGANIC?  THAT IS THE QUESTION…

Since this report, people are once again unsure if they should eat organic food.

Dr. Mercola wrote a fantastic article addressing the importance of continuing to buy good quality, nutrient rich foods, rather than avoid it due to fear.  He gives some helpful tips around washing vegetables and fruit to help reduce any organisms on the food.

*I would add:  When washing produce a capful of raw apple cider vinegar or a drop of grapefruit seed extract concentrate can be added to the water.  Both have very significant antimicrobial action, and are food based, so they are safe to use.

Also, Dr. Mercola points out that it is often the FARMING PROCESS that opens the door for contamination to occur.  It’s not necessarily the GROWING PROCESS but what happens AFTER a fruit or vegetable is grown.  There are many steps that he lists in the modern day manufacturing of produce as it is handled, prepared, packaged, leaves the farm and is shipped out for consumer use.

Finally, he states an essential fact…

“The closer you are to the source of your food, the fewer hands it has to pass through and the less time it will sit in storage — so the better, and likely safer, it will be for you and your family.”

This underscores the importance of growing your own or buying (as often as possible) locally grown produce.  If it’s organic, it’s a bonus!

The entire article can be read here: 7 TIPS FOR CLEANING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

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