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Your Favorite Vegetables
“I’m gonna be ‘round my vegetables/I’m gonna chow down my vegetables/I love you most of all/My favorite vegetables.”
This spritely tune, written by Brian Wilson and performed by The Beach Boys for the 1967 studio album Smiley Smile, is an unabashed love letter to healthy eating…at least on the surface. Even today, this seems like odd lyrical content for a pop song, but the praise is justified regardless. Vegetables are one of the richest and most nutrient-dense food groups – bursting with vitamins, minerals and fiber.
The good news is that a generation of young foodies is discovering new and exciting ways to prepare vegetables. The bad news is that there are still thousands of carnivorous, starch-loving hold-outs from the Baby Boomer lot – many of them becoming interested in a healthy lifestyle and longevity for the first time, but unable to wrap their taste buds around roughage no matter how reinvented it may get. Food scares, like the recent cyclospora outbrweak in Iowa and Nebraska only exacerbate the situation and make it easier for picky eaters and meat-lovers to avoid greens and other vegetables literally like the plague.
This is the worst outbreak of cyclospora Iowa has ever seen. If untreated, the single-celled parasite can cause an average of 57 days with severe diarrhea. Public-health investigators weren’t ready to cite a specific culprit, but they said the cyclospora contamination probably came from a single type of vegetable shipped from a single farm, likely outside of Iowa. As of July 12, the outbreak had sickened at least 45 Iowans. Nebraska also has reported 35 cases. These mid-western states already love their meat and grains in excess. The danger is that outbreaks like the historic cyclospora infection could potentially polarize a large portion of citizens.
Barbara Chadwick, clinical services manager for the Linn County Health Department where nearly half of the cases sprang up, told USA Today, “This one’s got our attention.”
Agents from the state Department of Inspections and Appeals, along with members of the FDA and CDC, are looking at food suppliers to try and track the source. That may comfort some, but the bottom line is that responsibility about food consumption and preparation starts and ends with the consumer. When people do buy vegetables and other fresh produce, they simply aren’t washing them enough.
“We’re not just talking about running them under some water and giving them a little pat,” Chadwick said. “It’s about soaking them and giving them a good scrubbing.”
Sure, cooking the hell out of them will kill off cyclospora and most other contaminants, but the process also drains most of the precious nutrients from the ingredients. Most foods, especially green vegetables, should be consumed in their raw form for maximum benefit. For decades, people devoured cooked and canned spinach with images of Popeye’s bulging muscles dancing in their heads. In reality, they were eating depleted mush. Raw is the way to go, and that makes washing vegetables thoroughly a must. Now, in the spirit of Brian Wilson’s song, please feel free to send us in a letter and tell us the name of your favorite vegetables/healthy vegetable recipes.
FYI: The only widespread treatment for cyclospora infection is antibiotics. However, enhanced food safety as a preventative measure is always your best bet.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.