We make thousands of choices every day about what to eat, what to wear, where to shop. We are so busy making these choices that sometimes we forget to make some basic choices that can save our lives and help us feel better.
For example, washing our hands. For another example, washing our fruits and vegetables.
We live in a global world, and our food comes from all over. Just because we all aspire to eat better, (which usually also means eating more locally grown food) doesn't mean this always happens.
Earlier this month, the CDC documented a nationwide food contamination with an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that affected cantaloupes. Unfortunately, many people were infected. Those infected were from all over the United States; in fact, at least twenty states reported cases.
This unfortunate outbreak is a great reminder to us all about the choices that we make individually, every day, to be healthy.
It's not always the big three: eating well, exercising and exhaling (stress management).
Sometimes it's as simple as washing our hands, making sure that we wash our fruits and vegetables, and being mindful of other healthy kitchen safety tips.
These include handling raw meat and eggs safely (think, for example: using a separate cutting board and utensils to handle raw meat; washing the counter with soapy water; and of course washing your hands!); cooking meat thoroughly; and checking your refrigerator to make sure that it is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and that your freezer is set to 0 or below degrees Fahrenheit.
While I'm at it, let's talk for a moment about hand washing.
It's something we are all supposed to do, and we all think that we know how to wash our hands. Right? Come on? We've been doing this simple act all of our lives. But do you really wash your hands long enough? Most of us don't, and hand washing is perhaps one of the easiest ways to keep ourselves and those around us healthy. (And in addition to food safety, flu season is just around the corner...) So, what to do: turn on the water, make it comfortable (you're going to be here for a few minutes, after all), put some soap on your hands and start to sing your favorite song (the ABC song, sung twice, works nicely in a pinch) and scrub your hands -- back and front, past your wrists -- under the water.
When you think you're done, scrub a bit longer.
Once your hands are rinsed, before turning off the water, grab a towel to both dry your hands and turn off the faucet. This last step is good practice for when you are in a public restroom, especially! Et voila, clean hands.
So, what five servings of fruits and vegetables today are you going to enjoy today? Of course, after you've washed them thoroughly first!
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