Learner's Curve
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The Hand That Serves E. Coli For Dinner?

Unless you never flip on the television or don’t read much, you probably know that hand- and produce-washing are by far two of the easiest measures to prevent the spread of illness-forming ick. Despite an all-too-easy task, laziness and complacency often override this simple task. What if you ended up sick or in the hospital as a result of poor hygiene? What if a family member did? Would you start washing your hands and produce then?

One of the hottest topics of this election year is health care. No matter what party you show allegiance to, we can agree that health care costs have to budge. In the face of rising gas costs (which drive food costs), I beg the question, why wouldn’t you do everything you could to prevent the spread of illness?

Y O U  hold the real cost of health care  I N  Y O U R  H A N D S…

Is This A Good Story?

The gent picking spinach and swiss chard goes to the bathroom on the job without a hand-wash upon returning to the field. You go shopping at the market only to purchase Mr. No Hand-Washy’s freshly picked crops. Not too worried about germs, you chop, cut and eat your new produce. After feeling full you think, “I’m so healthy, I just ate three servings of greens.” Several hours later while stretching in yoga class, you get a strange sensation down in your stomach that makes you haul a.. to the nearest bathroom. You can guess what happens next. Oh, you can’t? Diarrhea, sweats, more diarrhea, fever, cramping, nausea…

I’m not sure about you, but those thoughts really gross me out. Big-time. E-coli is responsible for upwards of 74,000 illnesses a year in the US, yet can be prevented by simple hand- and produce-washing. Throughout the year I receive about ten emergent calls to my private practice reporting food-borne illnesses. Upon further investigation, E. coli is the culprit. All it takes is water, hand soap and veggie washing.

Wash Up

The CDC says that hand-washing saves lives. Nothing fancy, just good old-fashioned water and soap on your mits.

Here’s their quick-guide:

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After visiting the gym or exercise classes
  • After using the toilet (even if you only touch yourself)
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing (even if you aren’t sick)
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage (clean doorknobs and handles associated with)

Their Fate Is “In Your Hands”

Maybe you don’t care and being germ-free isn’t a personal priority. C A R E about your friends and strangers. Making dinner for guests? Wash your hands and your produce. Imagine knowing that a guest ended up sick because you skipped produce washing. Wash your hands of having to carry around that guilt (pun intended). Ask guests to wash their hands upon arriving or keep a bottle of natural hand-san by the door (Clean Well’s alcohol-free is my fave).

The Mayo Clinic says that washing your produce reduces your chances of acquiring a food-borne illness.

… You’re going to ask, “why alcohol-free hand-sanitizer?” I’ll let you read from Clean-Well and Natural News about the latest research.

… The Environmental Working Group gives a quick lesson on how to clean specific suspect produce.

Thanks to Good.is for the infographic.

This entry was posted in: Learner's Curve


C H R I S T I N E Dionese, co-founder of flavor ID and Garden Eats is an integrative health & food therapy specialist, medical & food journalist. She has dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health by harnessing the power of the epigenetic landscape. To balance the more serious side of her work, she loves to concoct, write about and connect people through food & drink. You can check out her latest work at The Chalkboard Magazine, The Fullest and Rochester's Boomtown Table. Christine lives, works and plays between Southern California & Upstate New York.

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