Salmonella and other reasons why I am afraid to eat anything ever again….

Blurry_Grocery_Store_Photo-480x320On New Years Eve, during a major snowstorm, one of my daughters became violently ill. The timing, of course, could not have been worse and after a call to the doctor we were put at ease, told to stay in, to push fluids and to ride it out.There’s a stomach bug going around and it will pass” — we were told.  But “stomach bug” I knew this was not.  This thing, whatever she had, was far more sinister.  A day later and two separate trips to the emergency room we wound up in the hospital for seven days of pure agony. Not only were we quarantined in a room that we were not allowed to leave but my potty-trained daughter was back in diapers –- going to the bathroom up to 30 times a day and screaming every time (sorry tmi). The poor thing was finally diagnosed with Salmonella (it takes 3 days to show up in a  blood culture), and even rarer, it had spread to her bloodstream. Where she got it – I still don’t know. Salmonella is one of those things that you can get from food, playing with a turtle, anywhere really – nobody knows. And when a kid gets it, especially if it gets into the blood, it is nothing short of terrifying.

After my own bouts with food poisoning in the past (I have been hospitalized twice for food contaminated illnesses from work, once with Salmonella from a CANTALOUPE!), I have been fearful of food and have become very particular about what I eat and what I feed my children. But you can’t be vigilant 100% of the time, and sadly, there is really no control over the situation. The food supply in the US is worrisome to say the least and unless you are shopping at local farmers markets or paying top dollar at Whole Foods you really have no idea where your food is coming from.

So where am I going with this?  I guess after seeing my daughter go through such an excruciating situation I am on mega high alert which reminded me of two books that are worth reading.  Two excellent books about the state of the food supply in the US are The Omnivores Delimma and In Defense of Food.  I was lucky to have grown up with a mother who was a hippie so I was quite aware of what was healthy to eat, but these two books were eye opening to say the least.

And last week I finally watched the documentary, Food Inc If you have not seen it – watch it now!  Oprah just did a special on it.  Buy it or rent it or get it on demand. It will blow your mind, make you sick and might even make you a vegan overnight. I hate to bring this up and scare people but I am worried and I don’t even know what to eat anymore — if you have ideas, please send them my way. I am pretty confident this is a US related issue but not sure.  I just get the feeling that in Europe there are more markets and access to fresh food.  Please let me know.  I am just curious.

-Dina

12 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Shalene Roberts | February 3, 2010 | Reply

You can watch Food, Inc. online for free at this site: http://www.zshare.net/video/66765764ab0f0d5c/ It’s not the best quality, but it’s free!

Also, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are some of the best places to get quality, organic, high nutrient food. This site allows you to search for local farms and farmers markets in your area: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/.

This site is also a great resource for other links to locally grown food: http://animalvegetablemiracle.com/LocatingLocal.html#Gen

2. kim | February 3, 2010 | Reply

Sounds awful, I hope your daughter is ok now! I live london, but just outside the centre in Dulwich. I decided a few months ago to be more concious of what we eat (anyway organic as much as possible, but nevertheless). Most of my shopping i did with Ocado (waitrose). I now shop locally, the butcher (partially organic) can tell me exactly where the meat/chicken etc comes from and has not been frozen before, the fishmonger has every day fresh catch of the day & can tell me from where and we have a organic bakery oposite, all just 5 min walk from our home. And to top it off, we have an organic vetgetable/fruit store close by….and just to make you more jalours, i save 400gbp per month on my grocery bills!

My mam was a hippy mam like yours, we thought she was mad, making every day her own bread, every 2 days bycicle ride to closest farm to get fresh (unpasturished I assume) milk (of which she let us make butter, by putting it into an empty jar and shake it for a long, long time…) and vetgies & fruits came largely from our vetgetable garden!

Good luck with finding your little healthy food hub!
Kim

3. Kaleena | February 3, 2010 | Reply

Having lived in NYC prior to moving back to my sweet little California city I can remember feeling so stuck when it came to food choices. Why does organic have to be so blasted expensive in that city!

Even with how progressive NYC is I still almost feel like high quality and organic food is harder to come by on the east coast as compared to the west.

My big shopping stops were the union square farmers market, the fish mongerer and Chelsea Market (there was also a great produce store in there), Trader Joes and occasionally whole foods.

Best of luck with feeding your family

4. Dina | February 3, 2010 | Reply

Thankfully my daughter is ok but it took almost a month before she recovered. She is still not 100%. NYC, for all that is has is suffering in the food department. Things do get better in the spring/summer when the farmers markets are back but there are very few places to shop and get fresh organic/local food. Supermarkets are scarce and small fruit and veg markets are all but gone. It really is kind of a nightmare. I am def joining a CSA and I am currently looking into local farms where I can buy meat and poultry. I wish it did not have to be so hard though. it bums me out. thanks for your comments girls!

5. Esther | February 3, 2010 | Reply

How scary this all sounds!!
The Netherlands is slowly getting better regarding organic food, but still there’s nothing like Whole Foods or the like. Supermarkets stock organic milk, some meat and a small selection of organic vegetables but overall it’s lousy. There are organic shops, but they’re quite small and expensive!
When we lived in London I would receive a box with organic and local, seasonal veggies, delivered at my door once a week. I loved that. I don’t think it exists in Amsterdam, but I’m going to research immediately!!

6. Christine | February 3, 2010 | Reply

We’re in Southern CA and feel very lucky to have access to locally grown produce. We have access to several CSA (community supported agriculture) groups where they deliver once a week to a pickup point whatever is fresh and in season. We also shop at Farmer’s Markets and can get meat that’s never been frozen, or if it has, it’s still quite fresh and comes from small family farms we trust. We plan to put in a garden this spring/summer. I know in NYC you might not have access to any or many of those options, but I’d also recommend the book Artisan Bread in 5 Min a Day or Less (I think the author is Jeff Hertzog) – it’s super easy and really tasty! And I hope your poor daughter is on the mend – what a horrible ordeal!

7. peggy | February 4, 2010 | Reply

Esther, if your research is successful- please let me know!
:)

8. baroquebabies | February 4, 2010 | Reply

Oh goodness, how terrible!

Have you seen the USDA website? They have some fantastic resources on food safety:

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?navid=FOOD_SAFETY&parentnav=FOOD_NUTRITION&navtype=RT

9. Julie R | February 4, 2010 | Reply

i can’t imagine seeing one of my children go through that! heartwrenching! i’m here to second the opinion on Michael POllan’s books – FABULOUS. I’ve read each one twice! we need to be more concious of what we’re eating and where our food comes from. but it IS hard – it takes alot more effort to eat healthy (and therefore more safely!). I’m thinking of getting a CSA box this year…Pollan’s books have really inspired me! I need to watch Food Inc. too.

10. Heidi | February 5, 2010 | Reply

I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. I hope she will recover soon. This must have been so awful for the whole family.

I live in London and I think we are really lucky with all the small food stores, farmers markets, butchers, bakeries etc that sell quality, afordable produce. You know exactly what you are getting, directly from the producer.

11. Karin W | February 5, 2010 | Reply

Dina,
I do my organic veggie shopping at Fairway Market on the Upper West Side (second floor= organic floor) . They also have a reasonable selection of organic meats at the butcher area downstairs. (I think they are slowly growing into organic in that department too). They also sell wild Alaskan salmon (the only salmon I eat)
I think their organic veggie choices are much bigger than at Whole Foods (where 70 % is still conventional) and the prices are pretty good too (NYC standards ;)
Fairway does have several locations so you should check out their website http://www.fairwaymarket.com to see if there is one close to you.
Good luck!

12. nilda | February 18, 2010 | Reply

We’re lucky to live in Inwood (upstate Manahttan :-) where our farmer’s market is open year-round (there are duck, meat & turkey guys too), but we get most of our meat from our CSA share in “8 o’Clock Ranch” in upstate NY. They are wonderful, reasonable, and the meat (beef, lamb & pork) is awesome!
More importantly is following all the food safety rules, i.e. thawing food in the fridge not counter, washing/scrubbing raw veggies, NOT washing raw chicken in your sink, seperate cutting boards, etc.
I hope your daughter feels 100% very soon!

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