Beautiful people, if you are eating and your head, heart or gut says to you, this tastes funny, weird, or disgusting, put the fork down immediately. Advice I should have adhered to last Sunday evening. I’m not going to mention names or places but I’m super sure that I got food poisoning from a mushroom, green bean dish that made my scalp tingle and my taste buds run for cover. At first bite, I was turned off, but I continued to eat because I was hungry. I proceeded to mix the mushroom dish with the side of garlic mashed potatoes to mask the acridity. That was six o’clock in the evening and by the time I walked in the door at 11 p.m. my tummy was doing handstands and miniature tuck n’ rolls. Minutes later, I was in the bathroom painting the toilet bowl with my unpleasant dinner and then some. Not a pretty picture so I’ll get to the informative part.
Before my catering and cafe businesses took shape, my dear buddy and eco-chef, Bryant Terry, convinced me to enroll in the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Food Protection Course with him. The section on food borne illnesses and guidelines for prevention is forever burnished in my mind: 2-2-4.
> Do not leave food out for more than two (2) hours.
> Store food two (2) inches high in shallow pans for faster cooling.
> Discard any leftovers older than four (4) days.
Last week would mark the second time food disagreed with me in a major way. The first time was nearly ten years ago at a raw food restaurant in New York City. Strange because when traveling outside of the country, I’m ultra-cautious about what foods I eat uncooked or eat period. It seems I need to exercise the same restraint when dining in the States.
A few items to avoid when eating out (especially at chains, bodegas or delis) are: egg or tuna salad, raw meat, fish, cheap raw oysters, and most raw veggies. If I eat raw lettuce, salads, meat or fish, it’s usually at a reputable or conscious restaurant; and, I generally squeeze a bit of lemon juice and eat a clove of raw garlic when I arrive home for extra measure.
There are over 250 documented food borne illnesses. Most people are familiar with the following copied from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) web site:
An estimated eighty-seven million people are affected by food poisoning every year in the USA; including approximately 325,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. The majority of these individuals are babies, children, the elderly, sickly folks, or people with low immunity. Most healthy people, like myself, just deal with the stomach pain, barfing, night sweats, wheezing, and diarrhea and do not require a hospital visit which means there are many more cases than reported.
Unfortunately, there are many food handlers and workers who do not follow food protection guidelines. In addition to the 2-2-4 rule, it’s best to thoroughly wash produce with white vinegar or soak in salt water for 10-15 minutes before preparation. Keeping uncooked meat far away from produce is the key to avoiding cross-contamination. Also, washing your hands with soap and water is paramount especially when handling meat, eggs, or flesh.
If you think you may have food poisoning, be calm and trust in your body’s ability to rid itself of the bacteria or disease and follow these helpful wiki steps:
Even with food poisoning, the week wasn’t so bad, I got to spend some time with my super fit mama, I pre-ordered Bryant’s new cookbook, Afro-Vegan (as you should) from Greenlight Books in BK, and Spring has finally arrived.
Giving thanks to my body for kicking food poisoning butt! Yet another reason to keep your immune system strong and spry.
And despite the arrival of Spring, remember to dress warm (layers) and stay super hydrated (for elimination and circulation).
For sharing sake, a quote from Mr. Ghandi:
Happiness is when…what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.
Hugs and Love Always,
p.s. 30 Things to STOP Doing to Yourself. I am working on a few of these currently.