Are Salads still healthy?

In recent days it has been hard  to pick up a newspaper or read online headlines without  another troubling story about deadly  food poisoning in Europe. Each day the experts identify another possible culprit. One day its killer cucumbers. The next day  fingers were pointed at tomatoes.  For a few days, they were sure it was  bean sprouts.  Now conventional wisdom is pointing at salads  in general and some officials in Europe are recommending to stay away from tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers. That’s not good news.  Fresh fruits and vegetables  are just what studies like the NHANES have shown  to be linked to younger skin and fewer wrinkles. 

But the current outbreak is troubling for two key reasons–1) Its caused by a genetic recombination of two different types of E-coli bacteria  and 2)  that combo became an especially virulent strain of bacteria.  So far more than 2000 have become sick, half  had to be hospitalized and over 600   have suffered kidney failure.  

On one hand  I don’t want  to give up fresh fruit and vegetalbes that are packed with anti-aging antioxidants and vitamins.  But then there is that  kidney failure thing.   There are also no guidelines on what  we can safely eat.  One suggestion has been to wash all produce with disinfecting rinse and eat only foods that can be peeled.

OK,  I know how to peel stuff, but what is a disinfecting rinse?  Turns out there are three  main types:

1)  A very natural  approch is to use a  produce wash that gets  it power from citrus oils.  Extracted from grapefruit and lemon rinds, these oils clean off wax, dirt and chemicals.  I boughta bottle from my  health food store called Biokleer for about $5.  Following directions I put one tablespoon of  Biokleer in a gallon of water.   It became sudsy as I  swished around my lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and red pepper.  I then rinsed of the suds in another bowl of cool water.  They all looked sparkling clean and the original water  was grey  and cloudy with dirt.  Some studies suggest that grapefruit oils  kill bacteria, but the label of this product made no such claim. 

2.  Scientists from the University of Nebraska recommend making  a rinse of  1 teaspoon of clorox mixed with a gallon of water and to soak  fruits and vegetables in it for 20 minutes. These are then washed off with water to remove the clorox.  It sounds simple enough, but  other experts are concerned about  the impact of clorox on human health as well as on the environment.

3. In Mexico where food bourne illnesses are all too common,  doctors are recommending a rinse that contains iodized silver.  Two brands that are widely available there  in supermarkets are Microdyn and Bacdyn.  After soaking in a diluted solution,  fruits and vegetables should be placed on a clean towel  or colander to drain.  There is no need to rinse  off   silver based cleansers, an added bonus when  the water itsef  might not be so safe. 

I am curious if  you have used  any of these  techniques for cleaning fresh fruits and vegetables.  Did you find  they changed the taste of the food?  And did they affect you in any way?  I certainly don’t want to give up all the health benefits of  salads.   Last summer I stopped eating eggs because of the samonella outbreak  and by the winter  my nails had become paper thin and had shredded below the finger tip.   Since eggs are  our major source of biotin, I began taking  Biotin supplements and with a few weeks, my nails were healthy again.  I don’t want to make the same mistake again and exchange one problem for another.

2 thoughts on “Are Salads still healthy?

  1. Hi this is Tina from Germany, new to your blog… There have people even died from EHEC over here. Interesting that mostly women got sick. I do think this is serious but I do still eat my veggies and salad, bought and farmed locally – and in our region “animal fecies” as fertilizer is forbidden for veggies and fruit – washed with a little dish soap for the veggies, lots of water for the salad. But I have thrown out the last batch of my home-grown radish-sprouts as well as the seeds to raise them from, though I had already used seeds from that package. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I think I am safe this way, to date I still have no symptoms… I think there was a lot damage done to farmers with those first news about the bacteria being from cucumbers or tomatoes or salad while there was no prove, as they had to plough their salads and veggies under the soil because no one would buy any of the stuff…. but it was probably better than risking a lot more people getting sick?
    In the cantine at my workplace no raw salads right now. No risk.

    • Hi TIna,
      You are really at Gound Zero for the outbreak. It was troubling that every day they were blaming another food. I think that a temporary ban on raw salads is a prudent idea. THere have news reposts here that the sprouts were from an organic farm. Have you heard anything about that? I’ve also read of other food bourne illnesses linked to organic farms in the US. Some experts have speculated that the insecticides and fertilizers actually retard the growth of bacteria. Any disucssion about that in the German news? And welcome to No-Nonsense Beauty Blog!

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