Perspective

About 20 years ago, I went to China to teach English at Hunan University in the sleepy little city of Changsha (1.5 million). I learned more than I taught, and it started with perspective. Suffice it to say, we all put our pants on, one leg at a time. Beyond that, it’s a different world.

 

Perspective is what this article is about. Life’s Pure Balance believes that it matters how fruits and vegetables taste; as we know, if they are clean, they taste better! Our goal is to show people how easy it can be to wash your strawberries, for example. We’ve done countless taste demonstrations in supermarkets and trade shows to do that. Consumers like what our wash does, and that is the goal. What we want now are the perspectives of dietitians. Young and old; school, clinical, and home care dietitians. People who want their people to eat more of what’s good for them instead of what is convenient.

 

So, this is a call to dietitians in the Rochester and Twin Cities areas. We were hoping you could give us your opinions after tasting different fruits and vegetables washed in our Fruit and Veggie Wash. This is not a sales opportunity, nor is it a paid opportunity. What you’ll get is a free sample of the product. You’ll try it at home and give us your opinion. That’s it. The information we get will be randomized and reported back on this blog. Your names or personal information will not be used; well, we may want to use your first name only.

 

We’ll seek other groups to do the same test in the future. The groups will be from other areas of Minnesota and possibly Wisconsin because I have relatives there. The goal is to get the opinions of adults who work in the food industry. So far, most of our participants have been people willing to try a sample in a grocery store. Those results have been resoundingly positive. But by targeting groups who have more time than what the typical shopper has, we can get a better sense of what they’re tasting.

 

If you’re a dietitian, live in or around Rochester or Twin Cities, MN, and would like to participate, please email gene@lifespurebalance.com and let us know. We’ll make arrangements for more information and sample shipments.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Bill Adler, MPH, RS

Life’s Pure Balance Blogger

 

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, food-borne illnesses, and the food service inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators and working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. In addition, Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

Raspberries Top The New Food Preference List.

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

Okay, it isn’t precisely a pyramid. But it is a valuation of foods that are good for you. And raspberries received a 100 point score, which is the best you can get. Already, however, there is controversy over which foods made the ‘good for you’ list and which ones didn’t. For example, some cereals are ranked higher than eggs. This is causing no end to arguments. But, as a consumer, my wallet and taste predict what I’ll buy over what is better for me, from time to time.

Raspberries are a superfood. I should know because I grow them! This is not to say I am a nutritionist because I’m not. But it does say I like raspberry jam on my toasted English muffins. Haha, this makes me human, I guess.

Raspberries have one colossal drawback, and that’s the tiny crevices between the berry segments. As a result, they collect all sorts of nasties, including dirt, bird droppings, pollutants wafting over the gardens, etc. Back in 2000, there was a wedding-related outbreak due to the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. Eventually, the association was made to raspberries grown in Guatemala.  I’ve seen pictures of the raspberry plants covered in bird droppings that were taken in Guatemala. It isn’t hard to believe some of those berries resulted in people getting sick because we like our berries fresh (uncooked) and served as an ingredient to salads, desserts, cereals, and fresh out of the garden.

Many of our favorite foods used to be seasonal. This is no longer the case. Looking at the Country of Origin label on fresh fruits and vegetables is surprising where our food comes from. Grapes, from January till early June, come from Central and South America. Other crops do, too.

Similarly, meats and fish are no longer just raised and processed by American producers. Sardines are caught and processed in the Philippines and Vietnam. Beef and farm-raised venison come from Australia and New Zealand. Fish and seafood might come from Canada and Belize. The American marketplace is a massive resource for producers around the world.

But, as far as fruits and vegetables are concerned, source identification doesn’t mean it is clean or safe. As consumers, it is our responsibility to ensure our safety as best we can. WASHING produce is a step in the right direction. Washing it in something beyond just water dissolves the dirt and removes organisms tucked in those nooks and crannies: places water alone may not do much. Our goal here at Life’s Pure Balance is to provide you with the means to make produce safer. By washing with the concentrated Fruit and Veggie Wash, you’ll be taking off contaminants on the outside, giving the produce a much better taste. So, Wash, rinse, and eat, knowing you did your best to make your table fare as clean as it can get.

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, food-borne illnesses, and the foodservice inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. In addition, Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

A Fence or an Ambulance – You choose!

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

A Fence on the Cliff, or an Ambulance in the Valley – a Poem by Joseph Mailns.

The origin of this poem goes back to 1895 and was originally titled “An Ambulance Down in the Valley.” I’ll let our readers look it up and enjoy their find.

When I worked in public health, I had a supervisor who had this poem taped to his file cabinet. It served to remind everyone that what we did, didn’t get headlines or was even appreciated. But it did perform the function of preventing something awful, instead of wringing hands (or necks) when the system failed, and we had sick people, hospitalizations, or even deaths due to hemolytic uremic syndrome—a side effect of E. coli.

If you’ve read enough of my pieces, you’ll know we’re all about prevention. Putting a fence on the cliff is far better than picking up bodies in the valley. Washing fruits and vegetables is an easy way to prevent the consumption of E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, dirt containing many things, wax, and pesticides. That list goes on and on. Granted, it is not as traumatizing as making a plea on Facebook to fund a hospital stay or an entry in the Christmas newsletter talking about how awful it was to watch the kids trying to recover from something. But, of course, cleaning produce isn’t exciting at all. It’s hardly worth a footnote. But there is enough drama in our lives as it is. Having to watch our kids ‘praying at the porcelain altar’ shouldn’t have to be one of them.

Now, let’s talk a little about bacteria.

The Life’s Pure Balance Fruit and Veggie Wash removes a lot of what’s on the outside. Enough to make dirty produce into a safe item to eat. But it doesn’t sterilize it. NO fruit and veggie wash does that. Sterilization comes from cooking the daylights out of something to the point where nothing can live on or in it. Milk pasteurization doesn’t kill everything. Oven cooking at 450 deg F doesn’t either. A lot also depends on the immune systems of the people doing the consuming. However, you can wash off or cook food to the point where our bodies no longer ‘see’ or experience the bacteria as a threat. Size does make a difference, and in this case, size refers to the number of bacteria per gram of food we consume.

Medical studies have demonstrated just how much Salmonella it takes to make us sick. If we’re talking about a few hundred per gram of food, our bodies don’t seem to care. This dose is too small to cause a problem with Salmonella, no matter how old or young we are. But, if we’re talking a million or more to a gram of food, you better have the toilet paper ready. Shigella, on the other hand, only takes 100 organisms per gram of food. This is a bacterial disease investigators see too much of in daycare settings in Minnesota. It’s probably a national phenomenon, though many states don’t have as rigorous a disease investigative program as we have here.

Prevention is easier to stomach. We do it all the time. Kids today wear bicycle helmets to avoid ER visits. We wear seatbelts to be able to walk away from accidents that might kill us. Tobacco use has been curtailed because nobody likes premature deaths due to various cancers linked to tobacco exposure. Everyone I know is on a diet, presumably to live longer and get into their skinny clothes. Farm equipment has built-in guards to keep pant legs from getting wrapped up in the PTO mechanisms. OSHA requires face shields, goggles, and respirators/masks for working around flying grit from metal grinding jobs. Prevention isn’t just about what we eat. We accept ‘prevention’ mechanisms because we know it’s for our good to do so.

In the event you’ve missed our message, here it is:

  1. Properly washing fruits and vegetables with Life’s Pure Balance Fruit and Vegetable Wash concentrate makes them taste better and is safer to boot!
  2. Use a teaspoon of the concentrate in a gallon of water
  3. Soak your fruits and veggies in it for a couple of minutes
  4. Add a quick rinse under the tap or in a bowl of water
  5. Enjoy!

In a nutshell, you can prevent the need for an ambulance in the valley by putting your fence on the cliff. It’s not as glamorous or awful or giving you a story to tell, but it does give you better-tasting produce that is safer to eat. The bottom line: Wash your produce. It is the prevention that’s keeping you from needing an ambulance.

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, food-borne illnesses, and the foodservice inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. In addition, Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

Human Nature

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths we go to, to make “things” cosmetically correct. At times, my wife has 17 different lotions, eye enhancers, hair lighteners, anti-wrinkle creams, cuticle sticks, nail files, cream rinses, shampoos for various conditions, conditioners of all sorts, and so on, in the bathroom. I have a bar of soap in the shower and soft soap at the sink. Oh yeah, both of us have our own flavors of toothpaste. Telling her it’s hard to enhance perfection gets me nowhere. The bottles and tubes and jars still cover the counter and shower shelves because the industry demands she continue to enhance herself.

We do the same with toilet seats and sinks. The list of cleaners we have takes up a shelf in the closet. And then the brushed nickel appliances in the kitchen need their own cleaners and polishes. All in the name of appearance rather than actually doing something to make them better.

But what do we do with food? Most often, not much. Oh, we cover it with cream sauces and flavor enhancers, like lemon pepper, gravy, or glazes. Or we add salt, catsup, salad dressings, or barbecue sauce to ‘bring out the flavor’.  But we don’t, by and large, do much to clean it before eating it. This holds true for meats and fish, as much as it does for fruits and vegetables. Unless it’s a clean surface, to begin with, almost everything we eat has some gunk on it that either detracts from the flavor or makes it harmful.

Let’s look at chicken. Studies have shown that 30% or more of it has Salmonella or Campylobacter on the outside when it comes to our kitchens. Rinsing it under the tap literally removes some of it, but a good blast of water also spreads it around the countertop, waiting to get onto ready-to-eat foods like fruits, vegetables, deli meats, and just about everything that touches the counter surrounding the sink. Unless the counters are thoroughly cleaned with soap and something designed to actually kill the bacteria, like bleach.  Pushing it around with a wet cloth doesn’t do much to remove it. The science of counter-top cleaning says washing/wiping with a water-soaked cloth leaves a bio-film on the surface. And this biofilm contains all sorts of things that can lead to some nasty illnesses. Should you wash chicken in the sink?  Maybe or maybe not, because we’re going to cook the chicken and get rid of most of the Salmonella, etc, in the cooking process.

But fruits and vegetables are often eaten raw in this country.  Historically, we haven’t done much to clean them before eating. Rinsing an apple under the tap doesn’t take off much beyond surface dirt. The wax is still there. The natural protective coatings are still there. Bacteria from insects and bird droppings will still be there. The dust and dirt coming down in the rain will be removed, but that’s about it. This is NOT a matter of enhancing appearance.  Seriously, we are what we eat. And if we eat processor-applied wax, and grower-applied pesticides beneath the wax, and nature-applied bacteria, there is a strong likelihood there will be effects somewhere down the road.

We sell a lot of fruit and veggie wash to medically employed people. They understand the ramifications of eating parabens (coating waxes) aka endocrine disrupters. They understand the chemistry of how cleaners work to remove surface contaminants and waxy substances. They appreciate the log-termed effects on kids and grandkids, of hormonal imbalance caused by eating low concentrations of endocrine-disrupting waxes. Given that most consumers aren’t chemists or disease experts, the easiest approach is to consider our food is dirty and it is up to us to get it clean. So, should chicken and whole cuts of meat be cleaned before cooking? It probably wouldn’t hurt to at least rinse it off.  But cooking solves a very high percentage of the associated problems.  Should fruits and veggies be washed?  Absolutely, considering so much of it is eaten raw.

This is not a cosmetic thing at all. We’re putting this stuff into our bodies. Our intestines extract the nutrients and unfortunately, the dirt and chemicals carried on the surfaces of that food. This is of particular importance to younger people because their bodies and organs are developing. Pregnant women are of a particular risk because of what this does to their unborn children. Parents/guardians really need to consider what their kids are eating because of the way their systems extract building block chemicals and bacteria through their intestines. Their bodies are still growing and their hormonal (endocrine system) balance is still at risk.

You don’t have to be a scientist to understand how to get better tasting food.  A teaspoon of Fruit and Veggie wash, in a gallon of water. Soak for a couple of minutes and do a quick rinse. This is going to remove the wax, pesticides, dirt and a fair amount of the “living things” on the surface, making your fruits and vegetables taste better and literally be better for you.

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, foodborne illnesses, and the foodservice inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

Understanding the Terminology of Chemical Testing

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

When chemicals and medicines are analyzed for toxicity, a series of laboratory tests are done to show when 100% of test animals will die. Today, many chemicals are tested via computer models so that life forms, such as rats, mice, monkeys, and rabbits won’t die in the testing process. Once the LD100 (100% death dose) is established, the lethal dose chemical concentration that will kill 50% (LD50) is determined and exposure limits are calculated from there. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (ccohs.ca) does a very good job of explaining how and why the testing is done.

This sets the stage for what our kids are being exposed to. You see, sources of fresh fruits and vegetables are not set up to give us this information. And to be honest, nobody outside of toxicologists would understand it anyway. Getting toxicity data of the herbicide Dicamba, which could have carried over from the adjacent fields, is going to be tough. Studies just aren’t done on carry-over, other than to say carried-over herbicides could be detected when testing organically identified crops.

In a way, chemical testing is in its infancy and depends on several factors. Animal models don’t always tell us how people will respond. The 14-day observation period used after the final dose has been administered to the test animals may not be enough time. Teratogenicity (the ability to cause developmental anomalies in a fetus), and mutagenicity (the ability to cause genetic mutations) are two areas still being studied but in a nutshell, “we’re still not there yet” in terms of how the human body is affected by chemicals on or in our food.

So, this is where getting all that “stuff” off fruits and vegetables becomes important. Nobody is telling us what’s on the produce. Nobody is venturing, in language, most of us will understand, what has been applied to the things we buy. Few raw produce providers have offered any information saying their produce has been washed, leaving it up to you and me to protect ourselves.

Washing produce with Life’s Pure Balance fruit and veggie wash does that. It gets rid of the waxes, herbicides, and pesticides if you follow the directions. It currently costs just 9-cents of wash and a gallon of tap water to clean a pound or more of produce. After a quick rinse, you’re good to go with safety and nutrition for your kids without having to understand the technical terminology of chemical testing.

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, foodborne illnesses, and the foodservice inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

Raspberries

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

Most of my raspberries come from my 5 ft by 12 ft patch and become jam. This year, the raspberries started ripening in mid-June. This is odd considering all other years it has been mid-August.  Our funky Minnesota weather might have something to do with it. All I know is I collected over 600 berries last evening, and my daughter took the bulk of them. Along with the berries came dad’s advice to wash them because they were sprayed with apple tree spray.

Why would anyone spray apple tree spray on anything other than apples? Well, the last 2 summers, our apple trees, and the raspberry patch have been heavily infested with Japanese beetles.  The chemicals in the spray kill Japanese beetles and are conveniently found in both spray formulas. Suffice it to say; we’ve found no beetles on either this year. Both contain sulfur and Captan and a variety of other things.

Back when I was in college, I worked for a testing company that tested agriculture chemicals on farm animals and beagles. The Food and Drug Act of the time said that chemicals in which humans could be exposed had to be tested every 5 years. By today’s standards, the testing was primitive. There were no mass spectrometers, computer analysis, margins of error, molecular level determinations, or genetic anomaly testing. This often resulted in warning words on product descriptions, which I believe the public did not understand. “Warning, Danger and Caution” on a product label were the results, and that label information really never got to the consumer.  Thus, if the defoliant called “dioxin” was used and some carried over to row crops, that information was never given to the consumer.

We are not using DDT anymore. Dioxins that affect people have become severely restricted. But honeybees are being affected by nicotinamides, and that information is not provided at the consumer level. Similarly, Chlorpyrifos has been shown to have neuro-developmental effects on fetuses and newborns, but that information is not being shared in an understandable form for the general public.  If you want to see what is available, the USEPA has a 142-page analysis online of study data on Chlorpyrifos dated September 21, 2020.

All of this comes down to the US, the consumers, taking the time to clean our fruits and vegetables before eating them.  You don’t have to be able to pronounce or understand what might be on your produce as long as you actively work to get it off. Using enough Life’s Pure Balance fruit and veggie wash to create bubbles and letting your produce soak for 2-minutes or longer is going to take off the icky, un-pronounceable chemical residues. On top of that, getting rid of produce coatings gives them a much better taste and extends shelf-life.

A quick tip on raspberries.  I could go with mulching with slow-release organic source materials, but I don’t want to wait to have my berries pick up what they need.  Instead, I literally cover the garden with Miracle Grow crystals as soon as the snow has melted.  The rain “melts” it into the soil and the raspberry plants explode with berries every summer. 

 

 

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, foodborne illnesses, and the foodservice inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

The Nature of Parabens

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

They’ve been around for a while.  Parabens, in the form of fruit coverings, are there to provide microbiological protection.  Low-dose studies in adults show no problems.  But studies are done on animals, microbes, and adult humans.  Nothing has been done in terms of kids or babies, because, ‘who in their right minds’ would submit their kids to do a study on the health effects of a chemical??

Then there is the effect of bio-accumulation over time.  Methyl-, ethyl- and butyl- parabens do accumulate over time.  MOST comes out in urine, but some accumulate in the liver.  Recent studies have shown an effect on male and female reproductivity…  Hmm, that leads me to believe ‘out of sight, out of mind’ isn’t a good philosophy, after all.

Knowing which paraben is being used in your cosmetics and food isn’t going to happen.  Most of us didn’t know about parabens until someone raised a red flag and suggested avoiding them was in everybody’s best interest.  Ingredient statements on processed foods don’t differentiate the different types, and fruits and vegetables have nothing on the label to tell you the products have been treated with anything.  Don’t believe me?  The next time you buy a bunch of bananas or head of lettuce, see if it is packaged or its “bare” and if there is any description near or on it telling you what might have been done to it before you bought it.

Even “organic” produce isn’t necessarily chemical-free.  The industry is allowed the use of some chemicals made for specific purposes.  As I recall some of the organic fungicide labels, they say to hold the product for up to 10-days before offering for sale, to let the chemical dissipate.

Where does this leave the consumer?  First, there is the unknown to consider.  The distributors (stores) usually don’t have a clue.  The wholesalers don’t either.  The growers sell to a broker who ships to distributors, who ship to stores, and onto you.  The current state of regulation doesn’t tell the food or cosmetic industry that pesticides, waxes, or cosmetic treatments be identified to consumers in a language they can understand. In a strange sort of way, it might be on a label, but you need a PhD in chemistry to understand what’s been written.

Back to “where does it leaves the consumer?”  I guess the best way to protect yourself is to wash produce with something that’s proven to take off as much as possible of what’s on the outside of produce before you eat it.  Life’s Pure Balance Fruit and Veggie Wash dissolves and ties up the chemicals.  It lifts off the bacteria.  The pesticides and (parabens)waxes and organisms are mechanically removed by washing and rinsing.  Please note: the rinsing step flushes everything away and it’s an important step in the process.

 

Bill Adler is an expert in food safety, foodborne illnesses, and the foodservice inspection industry. He has conducted training for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) teaching local, state, and federal disease investigators as well as working with laboratory specialists and epidemiologists. Bill has worked extensively with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to perform food service inspections and train local and state public health employees.

What’s On Produce and Do We Really Want To Know?

Misplaced Trust and How to Clean Contaminated Food

Who is Responsible for the Quality of our Food?

Who is Responsible for the Quality of our Food?

By Bill Adler, MPH, RS
Technical Food Safety Consultant

My wife and I just finished a Sustainable Food class through the community college.  I was thinking it was going to be about sustainable agriculture, but to my eternal surprise, it proved to be much better.  The course was chiefly about gardening, from individual efforts around the world to corporate-sized endeavors, including a variety of topics from food deserts in our bigger cities, to turning marginal lands into corporation-sized farms;  it was very interesting.

I was struck, however, by the number of pests wanting to eat what’s grown. It is simply amazing that a farmer, of any size, can get a crop delivered to the market at all, but if you want to market apples, lettuce, beans, and tomatoes with blemishes, that’s always the option. However, most of us like produce that doesn’t look like it’s on its last legs at the market.

In a nutshell, small producers can, with lots of manual labor, remove the Japanese beetles, wash off the aphids and thrips, and who knows what they do for cutworms, though I think they have to pick them off each tomato plant, every day.  Producers can also use chemicals and cultivation to do the work for them. You can always produce and market organic foods, but even organically produced crops are allowed some chemicals, and that’s why it’s important to use Fruit & Vegetable Wash.

The food chain goes something like this:  farmers grow, harvest, and sell to wholesale marketers. They’re not required to wash the crops they sell. The wholesalers either sort, combine and send to consumer markets, supermarkets, or the products go to companies that make something of it (process).  Some of the wholesale marketers rinse off produce but not all do.  We, as consumers, are the ultimate end-users, and it is up to us to take the final step of cleaning that produce, or we face eating what wasn’t washed off in the chain of handlers before it came to us.  Since produce is offered in big bins and store shelves, other consumers get to touch, pick over, poke, prod, attempt to dent, and finally, decide to take or not take everything they touched.  Those consumer hands, which weren’t washed before the produce was handled, are the end result of using never washed cellphones, touching never washed steering wheels, wiping kid’s runny noses, touching pets, and so on.  Every time you take an apple, pear, tomato, melon, green bean, green/yellow/red pepper, and a myriad list of other bulk produce, this is what’s already on the surface.  As the ultimate consumers of unprocessed fruits and vegetables, it’s up to us to wash our produce with Fruit & Vegetable Wash before eating it.

Earth’s Natural Fruit and Vegetable Wash takes off the wax that long-term storage companies put on.  It removes the pesticides that were used in growing.  And it removes the grime that was left from other people’s hands.  Now you have produce that will taste better and be clean enough to eat.  Enjoy!