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Tips For Shopping During Food Safety Scares

Ever since I watched the film, Food, Inc., I’ve had a different relationship with meat. I’m definitely still a carnivore–I grew up with a dad who hunts and a basement freezer routinely stocked with venison, rabbit, etc.–and meat itself is still appealing. But I can’t shake the images of meat processing, and it has affected how I order, buy, and cook.

Last night, for example, I ordered a hamburger–the menu made a clear statement of the cows being hormone-free and grass-fed (I wish that were more common in restaurants). But I still ordered it well done. In the process of making ground beef, the surface area of a piece of meat (where bacteria are most likely to live) is cut and jumbled in. In other words, the inside of a burger is just as dangerous as the outside. I order steak medium rare, but I insist on burgers fully-cooked all the way through.

With so many cases of dangerous pathogens like E. coli and salmonella spreading through eggs, spinach, lettuce and more, many people are modifying what they buy and how they cook. The New York Times has put together a list of tips for shopping and cooking that help with food safety, without breaking the bank.

For example, buy pasteurized eggs if you’re going to make cookies (batter-licking included), or a Caesar salad dressing, and regular old eggs for hard boiling or scrambling (pasteurized ones can cost almost double).

Wash all your fruits and veggies, even if they’re headed to be peeled, and buy non-bagged lettuce, take off the first few leaves and wash the rest, using a salad spinner to dry. Bags of lettuce are more expensive and even if they say “triple washed” you should wash them anyway.

If you feel safer shopping from a farmer’s market, I’ve also found that different vendors charge different prices for their produce. So if you’re at a market, shop around to see if you can get a better deal. We shouldn’t have to tax our budgets too much to keep our families healthy and safe.

Read more of the Times article “Food Safety Tips for the Budget-Conscious.”

Image: Flickr/JellieS

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