5 Tips to Avoid Food Related Illnesses

Not only are the foods you’re eating nutritionally unsound, but the number of food related illnesses and deaths are on the rise…The FDA states that food poisoning, Listeriosis, Hepatitis A, Hemorrhagic Colitis and a number of other food borne illnesses are killing 13 men, women and children per day.

It’s appalling that this is happening in our country every single day in this day and age.

Young children, the elderly and anyone with a weakened immune system suffer the greatest risk; however most of the above mentioned illnesses are of great risk to all of us. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that roughly 76 million people in the United States suffer food borne illnesses each year, 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die. According to the CDC children younger than the age of 4 are sickened by food more than those in any other age group, but adults over age 50 suffer more hospitalizations and death as a result of food-related infections.

Food recalls and food related illnesses and deaths have increased nationwide. Food was meant to nourish our bodies; our food safety system needs to be reinvented to fit the needs of today. It’s time to rethink what we’re doing and understand why the current system is not working.

The New York Times recently quoted Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods at the FDA to say “The system needs to be modernized to address the challenges and changes of the globalization of the food supply and rapid distribution chains” and Dr. Stephen Sundlof (director of the agency’s’ food center) stated “As supply chains get longer and longer, there’s more opportunity to introduce contaminants that have a public health effect.”

Having the variety of foods we have available to us is wonderful, but the truth is that we’ve gotten spoiled. It used to be if you didn’t grow it or couldn’t buy it locally you did without it. We’re not willing to do that now; we’re not willing to make sacrifices to help ourselves, our communities, our environment or our economy. We are an instant gratification, quick fix, feel good society…but at what cost? You can change some of this, but only if you’re willing to be part of the solution.

Eating and buying locally grown and raised foods will ensure safe foods. The reason local foods will be by far the safest is because these growers are feeding these foods to their own families. Organic meats, fruits, vegetables, herbs, wine etc. can be found closer than you think…Here are 5 helpful tips to help you live a longer, healthier, safer life…

1. Plant a garden-You can construct a garden no matter how small or large an area you have. Cinder Block Gardening produces the best crops, uses the least amount of tools and can be used in just about any size area, under just about any conditions. Buy cinder blocks to fit the area you’ll use, mix up a “no fail” soil and plant away-no drainage problems, no weeds, no failure. Row gardens are traditional but they take a lot of work, weeding, fertilizing, tilling etc. There’s also Container gardening, great for small areas (even apartment dwellers). Any style or size container you can think of will work; you’ll just need to adjust each container you use to be plant friendly. Drainage, soil, moisture levels etc. will all need to be watched closely and adjusted regularly until you find what works best.

2. Buy locally grown food-Shop at your local farmers markets, co-op, food shed, or health food store. Ask where your food was grown and if it’s pesticide free. You may not even realize how many growers are within 100 miles of your home. Do your homework, they’re out there. I guarantee it.

3. Join a Co-Op-If you don’t have a lot of time or space to plant your own, or would rather share the gardening experience, join or start a co-op. Co-ops are great because it’s a community project that you can participate in and benefit from.

4. Read labels-The little stickers on every piece of fruit and vegetable you purchase tells you exactly where it came from and how it was grown. Labels with four digits indicate conventionally grown food (using pesticides). Labels with five digits starting with an 8 indicate that the food is genetically modified (stay away from these at all costs…Genetically Modified Organisms are by far the worst foods to consume). Labels with five digits starting with a 9 indicate that the food is organically grown (without using pesticides).

5. Educate yourself-Subscribe to community newsletters. Know where and how your food is grown. Buy locally grown foods within a 100 mile radius of your home. Share your knowledge and speak up when it comes to asking questions or voicing your concerns about foods you and your family will be eating.

Be aware of the dangers that inhabit your cupboards, refrigerators, lunch boxes and grocery stores…Plant a garden and grow your own, otherwise buy local, buy fresh, buy organic…