Friday, August 20, 2010

Just Another Reason To Buy Local

Have you heard about the massive egg recall going on now? The government has recalled about 228 million eggs and the number will likely go higher. This is a national number because these egg producers are not local farms. They are the modern day industrial chicken farms (aka factories). The problem with the eggs is a bacteria called salmonella that can be found on the shells of the eggs. This bacteria runs rampant in cramped chicken houses with unsanitary conditions. Chickens are not clean animals to begin with and then you put 500 of them into a 200 sqft coop and you get a royal mess. These factories are not doing the proper job of screening for this bacteria and thus it gets on to the eggs and shipped to your local food store.

The fact that 228 million eggs are a part of this recall goes to show how widespread the problem is. This is not just one single factory's problem. This is a problem with the entire system. Salmonella is a serious bacteria that can cause severe sickness and even death if not treated properly. Why isn't the government cracking down on the way chickens are bred, housed and maintained? I am not really sure. But I do know that the government is cracking down on the wrong people. The small farmers who let their chickens run free and actually care about their sanitary conditions. Does this sound counter intuitive? Well it is, check out my older post about the new House Bill that has been passed,

Well fortunately for my family, I held out for farmers market day and bought my eggs from, a local farm in Rockmart, GA where the milk has a 6 inch layer of  cream on top and the egg yolks are orange. Yes, orange! That is the color they should be in case you weren't aware. The orange color indicates that the chickens have been fed a diet rich in beta carotene. When chickens are fed nothing but grains (aka corn), their yolks tend to be the pale yellow color that we see in big chain grocery stores. They are not really adding any nutritional value to our diets at all.

Here is a little tid bit about Salmonella and food borne illnesses in this country, just so you are aware:

"Salmonella poisoning symptoms
Within 6-to-72 hours of eating an egg, you may experience lower abdominal cramps, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), vomiting, fever, chills, malaise, nausea or headache. Symptoms may persist for as long as a week. 

While most people recover without treatment, some patients require hospitalization. Among the 21,244 cases of foodborne illness reported from tainted food-related outbreaks in the United States in 2007 (the last year for which data is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), salmonella was the No. 2 cause of illness, causing 27% of foodborne illness outbreaks, including 55% of multi-state outbreaks, and 81 illnesses attributed to salmonella in eggs; five deaths resulted from salmonella-contaminated food. The two biggest foodborne illness outbreaks that year were caused by salmonella, in hummus and frozen pot pies." -Dan Shapley, Daily Green

These are the egg brands affected by the recall so check your fridge for them:
Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, and Kemps. If you have them, throw them away.

If you are interested in finding a local farm to purchase eggs and other provisions, please feel free to contact me, I can help point you in the right direction, no matter what state you live in. We need to support our local farmers because it seems like they are the only ones practicing food safety these days.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kind of Off Topic

Lately I have been struggling to keep my "green" theme going because frankly, there are so many other topics I would like to cover as well. Maybe I should start another blog or three but then I would have absolutely zero time to raise my beautiful twin boys (who are taking up all of my time anyway). So I think to myself, would my readers be upset if I inserted a couple of "off topic posts"? Would I be defeating the purpose of my original mission? Well...I don't care. I am breaking the rules. Screw it.

Lately, or rather in the past couple of years, I have noticed that many people are putting bumper stickers on the back of their SUV's and minivans. These are not your old fashioned political, racial, or my kid is an honor student bumper stickers. These are stickers denoting places that they've been to or wish they've been to (acronyms with 2 or 3 big letters), monograms and my personal favorite, stick figures of their entire family and their current professions. Now seriously people, what are you trying to prove with these lovely bumper stickers? Is it possible that you want everyone in the world to know where you vacation, your initials and how many members are in your family including pets like dogs and birds? TMI to the tenth degree.

We are  living in a world where information is so readily available that we forget about protecting ourselves and our families. We believe that every one's intentions are good because ours are - right? WRONG. I don't need to know these things nor do I want to stare at it as I sit in traffic on the downtown connector.

Its so easy to look someone up online and find out their basic and even detailed personal information.  It all depends on how much money you want to spend. A recent site like this scared me and I took the time to remove my listing from the site. Its Check yourself on that site and see what you find out. Some of it is wrong but some of it is frighteningly accurate. We as individuals are losing our mystery. Its all out there for the taking and we are relishing in marketing it, on our cars, on Facebook and other social media sites. How many times will I have to read another status update about someone leaving for vacation and telling the world that they will be gone for 10 days? Great! Now all I need is your address and I am golden!

Come on! Lets not put ourselves in danger. Lets start using our brains. Take the stick figures and the monograms off the car. Especially the young college girls who are vulnerable to stalkers as it is. No need to advertise which car is yours, honey.  Keep a low profile and you'll be safer.

Plus, I find myself annoyed when I see a sticker with three letters than I can't for the life of me figure out where its from. Help me save my brain from being overworked, people. OK? thanks.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pesticide Free Fruits and Veggies?

We all know that conventionally grown fruits and veggies contain pesticides. These pesticides can be harmful and toxic to our bodies if consumed in large amounts overtime. They tend to accumulate in our bodies and can cause neurological damage. Some studies show a link to childhood ADHD and pesticides and who knows what other problems they can cause of ingested over time? Why take that chance?

I know it can take extra time and be kind of annoying to wash all your fruits and veggies every time you want to eat them but why not try this instead. Each time you bring home your fruits and veggies, wash them ALL immediately and then put them away so you don't have to do it every time individually. Maybe I am the only crazy one who was washing them individually and then this comment would be more like common sense to you but in case you were driving yourself nuts like I was, do this, it saves time in the long run.

So which produce item are the big culprits?
* Peaches
* Apples
* Bell peppers
* Celery
* Cherries
* Nectarines
* Strawberries
* Kale
* Lettuce
* Imported grapes
* Carrots
* Pears

These fruits and veggies have lots of nooks and crannies for the pesticides to get caught in, or they are just highly prone to infestation and therefore need a lot of pesticides. Strawberries are especially difficult to clean and my son loves them. So I really want to make sure they are pesticide free.

Is water really enough? Well, the water should be warm and you should really make sure the skin of the produce is scrubbed well. For the softer fruits and veggies, your hand scrubbing will do but for some of the more fibrous stuff a veggie brush is more effective. Once washed, you should dry it off really well too. Make sure any water droplets containing pesticide are completely removed. But water may not be enough and therefore adding some distilled white vinegar to water and making a solution may be the best answer. I bought something called "Fit" at my farmers market and it contains alcohol and grapefruit oil. I spray this on the fruit or veggie and then rinse with warm water and dry. Its seems like a time intensive process but what are the alternatives? I personally wouldn't take a chance with the health of my children.

We don't know the long term effects of a lot of these chemicals but we can see the effects they are having on wildlife that surrounds the farms they are used on. The runoff from the farms takes the pesticides into rivers and streams and pollutes the fish and wildlife. We are seeing neutered frogs and androgynous fish and a huge dead zones in some areas. Its truly sad but the price we pay in order to feed such a large population.

If you have the money and the resources, you can search out local organic farms and not have to worry about the pesticide problem so much. But even some organic produce contains pesticides. So I would wash EVERYTHING.

Here is another recipe that is safe and inexpensive, and made from ingredients you already have in your kitchen. It is a diluted form of hydrochloric acid to wash off pesticides:
1. Fill your kitchen sink with cold water.
2. Add four tablespoons of salt and the juice of half a fresh lemon.
3. Soak fruits and vegetables five to ten minutes (leafy greens two to three minutes and berries one to two minutes)
4. Rinse well after soaking and use.

What about soap and water? Cornell University studied that one for us. They did agree that “a detergent solution may remove more bacteria (and perhaps some pesticide residues, as well), they also caution that soap is not intended for this use. Once it gets onto some kinds of foods, it is more difficult to remove than it is from dishes and it can make people sick.” And don’t use bleach either, for the same reasons.

SO I know that a lot of this information may be redundant for some of you but reinforcement is always good. Over time we get complacent and these chemicals are not going away. As more and more farms are able to use the word "organic" the shadier our produce is getting. The lines are becoming blurred and we need to protect ourselves.

For any specific questions about fruits and vegetable washes, simply email me for more info.