So….What’s Up With Romaine?

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.- Doug Larson

I had to laugh as I read the above quote this morning. I was eating my breakfast of Applegate Bacon (uncured, no sugar added), 2 farm fresh eggs, avocado, and steamed broccoli. And I have to say, the broccoli was just as delicious to me as the. All in all, this was an excellent meal. Good fat, plenty of protein and a green vegetable. Lately, I have been having salads with my breakfast. I learned the beauty of this from the time we have spent in Hawaii. They often add a small side salad to breakfast, a great way to get a good veggie in first thing in the morning.

Speaking of salad, what is up with Romaine? Seems like every time we turn around there's a big warning about it. Do people who harvest Romaine specifically, not wash their hands while everyone who harvests all the other lettuces do? That doesn't sound plausible. Besides, we've had plenty of spinach warnings, too. So I did a little investigating and found out that we don't know exactly why Romaine is contaminated more often than other lettuces. What we do know is that more people get sick from leafy greens than by eating undercooked hamburgers or sushi. Here are a couple of the theories as to why lettuce can make us sick. The culprit is E.coli, a bacteria found in our guts that usually doesn't cause any harm to humans. But some strains are dangerous. Those strains are what cause the "Romaine Issues." Bacteria are transferred from animals to us through contaminated water. There are also some types of bacteria that are harder to wash off. If all that isn't enough, it's the pre-chopped, pre-packaged options that are the greatest offenders (tho whole heads of lettuce can be a problem too). Traveling cross county in plastic causes the bacteria to grow. Also, bacteria can get down into the core of lettuce where it is harder to clean. Women are affected more often than men because we tend to eat more salads. And who cooks their salad? Eating raw vegetable adds to our exposure.

Now you're thinking, 'Great, I was planning to up my salads as part of my new year's resolution to get healthy.' By all means, please do! Here are some recommendations to do it more safely:

Buy your produce whole and without packaging.

Run fresh produce under water for 30 seconds.

Water and vinegar solutions can reduce, but not completely eliminate bacteria. The ratio of vinegar to water is 1:3.

Wash your hands in warm water for at least 20 seconds before handling lettuce.

Discard all the outer leaves of the lettuce.

Rinse your produce until no traces of dirt remain.

Wash your produce before you eat it, not necessarily the day buy it.

Pay attention to any reports of E.coli outbreaks and follow instructions when you should avoid it.

All of the above suggestions are helpful but won't eliminate the problem completely. In my opinion, the single best step you can take is to know your farmer and buy locally. Who do I recommend?

Dearing Country Farms

PrairiErth Farm.  

Both provide organic, fresh produce, meat and eggs, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) options and so much more. Connecting with your farmer is a win-win. You are supporting them and they are supporting your health. Plus, it's wonderful to see familiar, friendly faces at the local Farmers' Market! Double plus: Bloomington-Normal offers a winter, indoor Farmers' Market at the Colosseum in downtown Bloomington the 3rd Saturday of the month from Nov-Apr, 10 am-12 noon.

Dearing Country Farm also provides fresh seafood. Every 2-3 months they make a trip to Florida and bring back super fresh seafood. Contact Brad and Jackie through their website listed above.

It's a new year! Let Your Food Fight, LLC be a part of your plan to maintain or regain your health.

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