The recent spate of food-borne pathogens is a timely reminder that fruits and vegetables grow outdoors, in actual dirt, and may be exposed frequently to bird poop, dog pee, both living and/or dead insects, frog spit, and whatever else is out there, squirming and wriggling around microscopically. And then after the porcupine and possum poop, produce gets handled by booger-picking, butt-scratching, non-hand-washing humans, from the fields to the marketplace.
Rather than expect the government, at any level, to protect us from these nasty environmental constituents, which it cannot do in any event, why not take a hint from our neighbors to the south, and be responsible, to the extent possible, for the cleanliness of our food? All over Mexico, super mercados, fruterias, and the humblest garden produce stands offer antibacterial food washes. People routinely soak fresh produce for half an hour or so in a mild iodine solution — two or three drops to a sink-full of veggies — then rinse and store the now-sterile goodies until they are consumed.
No, this won’t protect against salmonella in peanut butter, or heavy-metal contamination, or lots of other potential food hazards. But it is simply foolish to bring fruits and vegetables into one’s home, rinse them under the cold water faucet, and assume they are fit to eat!
The irony of the iodine-wash method is, of course, that it is practiced in Mexico, where too many nortenos gorge themselves on cerveza, fried sugar, and fats every year, afraid to eat the abundant fruits and vegetables. In fact, Mexico may be one of the few places where it is generally safe to do so, because mexicanos haven’t forgotten that fresh foods must be cleaned by the consumer or preparer, nor confused the government with their abuelas.
To live in a free country, practice freedom where you live.