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By Kellene Bishop

While the thought of waste management isn’t sexy or glamorous, I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors if I didn’t teach about sanitation in greater detail. So here are a few things that you’ve just GOT to know about do-it-yourself sanitation for a prolonged period of time.

Sorry to have to say this, but human waste is a huge danger in a disaster. Many folks will just give up on any semblance of sanitation in desperate circumstances. When I lived in the Philippines, it was nothing to see a woman stop where she was going and crouch down and urinate wherever she stood. It was also common for people to simply throw their human waste out their windows…as if it was now marked as someone else’s problem. Now picture what may happen if someone lives in a high rise apartment in the center of a city not being able to flush their toilets for a week. They aren’t just going to hold it, right? I guarantee that “civilization” as you know it will cease when it comes to waste disposal. But wait. There’s even better news. A person who is healthy and has regular bowel movements produces two to three pints of urine daily and one pound of feces per day. I don’t even want to think about what happens when someone is sick from eating unsafe food, or stressed out. Ugh. And that’s just ONE person.

Flies photo c/o ufl.edu

Flies photo c/o ufl.edu

As shared previously, one small area of poor sanitation can kill everyone within a 50 mile radius. So it’s critical that you’re just as diligent with your sanitation preparedness as you are your food, water, and shelter. How can a bad sanitation area kill so many in such a wide area? The perpetrators are rodents, flies, and bacteria. Bad bacteria can travel three hundred feet from the original site of “yuck.” Flies live to spread feces and such from one place to another. And rodents are attracted to it as well. If they go in, they go out, and they then take the death germs with them. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? So you’ve got be mindful of not creating a festival of killer bacteria in the first place.

There’s quite the cocktail of formidable germs lurking in a human waste area. Streptococcus, staphylococcus, E. coli and shigella bacteria, some salmonella, Norwalk virus, hepatitis A virus, the common cold virus, and various sexually transmitted organisms.

Immediately after a power outage you may still be able to use your sewer system by pouring water directly into the toilet bowl. But this method uses up a lot of valuable water and you run the risk of having sewage in your home when the home system backs up. I wouldn’t recommend living long term that way. Instead, plug the toilet up with a tennis ball to avoid sewage coming out in the event of a blockage. And then set up alternative waste disposal options.

Trench illustration c/o wedc.lboro.ac.uk

Trench illustration c/o wedc.lboro.ac.uk

One option is to dig a trench. Your trench should be 2 feet wide, at the very minimum, 1 food deep and four feet long or more. More importantly it should be FAR way from any type of living arrangements—especially FOOD! Since the bacteria can travel 300 feet, you might want to think about having your trench that far way from your living area. After each trench use, cover the area with dirt, lime, wood ash, I-Pee, or ChemiSan. Also, I recommend sprinkling a bit of diatomaceous earth (DE) after each use as it will keep the flies and other insects away, and thus further prevent the spreading of germs. (Note: Human waste should NEVER be used as compost for food gardens.) The downside of digging the trench is that it takes up vital physical energy. Thus some of the simpler methods may be necessary instead.

Another option is to use a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat lid. After each use, be sure to layer it with one of the aforementioned items. ChemiSan has biodegradable bags that you can use to line the 5-gallon buckets with. This will enable you to take the bags, bury them and know that you haven’t furthered the contamination in your area. (Check their site to find distributors in your area.) For our readiness, we have lots of heavy duty plastic bags, DE, and lime on hand specifically for this purpose.

Whatever method you use, try to construct a covering/shelter for the area. This isn’t just about dignity and privacy. Germs in feces can be propelled through the air easily. Thus, leaving the waste area immediately after applying the covering of dirt, lime, etc is important. Having some type of a door or at least a plastic sheeting is a good idea as well.

Be sure that everyone is diligent in cleaning their hands for at least 20 seconds after using the facilities. The same goes if you are changing a baby or elderly diaper. Be sure to get in between the fingers and under the fingernails each time you wash your hands. If you’re relegated to using hand-sanitizer, be sure to apply enough to be just as thorough as you would if you had soap and running water.

Boil cloth diapers to clean them. Photo c/o searchingbliss.blogspot.com

Boil cloth diapers to clean them. Photo c/o searchingbliss.blogspot.com

When disposing of disposable feminine products, they should be burned after use, not put with the other waste in the trench or bucket. The same goes for disposable diapers. However, cloth diapers and their pins should be boiled, then bleached, and then exposed to the sun for a couple of hours. (Do NOT use your solar oven for this sanitation purpose)

And lastly, you may want to invest in room deodorizers now while you can get them frequently for FREE with coupons. While you may not fathom being able to use 6 cans of Febreeze now, you’ll be grateful that you have it when your “community” is forced to take care of business the early 1900’s way.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

h1n1-prevention-child-sick-in-bedI’m getting a lot of e-mails lately asking me for more details on the H1N1 risks. Frankly, I have a whole lot to say about the H1N1 flu, but that would probably take an entire day. So today I want to share some very basic aspects to help you begin to cut through some of the myths and misunderstandings about H1N1.

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #1: First of all, don’t waste all of your money on the N95 respirator masks. Yes, they are a great quality. So are my expensive clogging shoes. But they will not do much to prevent me from getting sick. The N95 respirator masks are constructed to filter 95% of particulate that are 0.3µ, but the primary size of the H1N1 virus is 0.1µ, so they will pass through. The masks are good for other viruses that may result as a complication of the H1N1. But they will do very little to prevent you from getting H1N1 in the first place.

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #2: H1N1 is transferred from one person to another via the nose and the mouth. It is only able to compound and grow (proliferate) in the upper respiratory system. So if you are going to take some preventative measures now (which I recommend you do), take actions that help the upper respiratory system such as a nasal saline rinse (they work wonders, I’m telling you!), or warm liquids, and the diffusing of some great essential oils such as Thieves. These are ideal preventative measures.

Upper Respiratory System photo c/o health.com

Upper Respiratory System photo c/o health.com

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #3: It’s virtually impossible for you NOT to come in contact with the H1N1. Contact with the virus won’t hurt you. But allowing the virus to proliferate in your upper respiratory system is what can be dangerous. Keeping your upper respiratory system clean and healthy so as not to provide an ideal environment for the proliferation of the flu virus is your best bet. The virus will only last in your system for about 2 weeks according to its natural cycle. So be diligent in your preventative measures so that you never give the virus a 2 week span in which it can grow to aggravate symptoms, get others ill, etc.

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #4: Tamiflu does NOT kill the H1N1 virus. It is merely distributed to subdue the proliferation of the virus in the body. (Kind of like smothering a fire which doesn’t always work, depending on how the smothering agent is applied.) If Tamiflu is effective in the body for the 2 week duration, then you’ll notice very little illness and symptoms. Considering you are nearly guaranteed that you will have contact with the virus and that it’s not likely that you will “kill” it, it’s very important that you do everything you can not to encourage the virus’ growth. In addition to the aforementioned preventative measures, there are some other, relatively simple ways to defend yourself against the impact of this virus—without taking chances on chemical solutions.

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #5: While it may sound a bit too simplistic, be sure to wash your hands a LOT! I wash mine nearly 3 times more daily than I used to in an essential oil base, such as Thieves. I also carry a little spray bottle of Thieves essential oil with me and spray down questionable surfaces as well as my hands when I’m out and about.

Gargle Salt Water. Photo c/o Photographic Advertising Limited

Gargle Salt Water. Photo c/o Photographic Advertising Limited

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #6: While most people only associate gargling salt water as what they do when they are sick, I suggest that you do it twice a day now. If you don’t care for salt water, then spray some Thieves oil in your mouth twice a day as a preventative measure. Bacteria and viruses simply cannot multiply in a salty environment. Don’t underestimate this. I’ve felt like I’ve been fighting something for a couple of weeks. So I’ve been faithful about taking more immune system builders, drinking my green drink, and spraying my throat twice daily.

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #7: PLEASE keep your hands off of your face. When you touch your face, just picture you giving a “helping hand” to those little mongrel viruses right to your nose and mouth. Before applying makeup, be sure you’ve cleaned your hands. Moms, whatever you do, don’t do that licking of the finger to get a smudge or an errant hair under control. When you handle the drool of a little one, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #8: If you’re eating out, don’t TRUST that the table has been cleaned properly. Bring a sani-wipe with you and use it on the table. Be sure that you sanitize your hands before bringing food to your mouth either by utensils or by hand.

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #9: When you use a tissue, be sure to use it once and then throw it away. If you reuse it (out of a need to conserve—I get it) you could be giving the virus a lift to your mouth and nose again.

Avoid people who have been vaccinated within the last 2 weeks. Photo c/o ehow.com

Avoid people who have been vaccinated within the last 2 weeks. Photo c/o ehow.com

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #10: OK. Here’s another bit you should know. Try to avoid contact with those who have had the vaccination in the last 2 weeks as much as you would avoid someone who has the flu. The vaccination does carry a smidge of the actual virus in it. Whether or not it’s able to proliferate within its host body doesn’t mean that it can’t do so in your body.

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #11: Also get as much Vitamin D3 as you can. Conscientiously make yourself walk outside in the sun to absorb as much of it as possible. Have your kids do the same. Supplementing 5,000 IUs per day per adult and 2,000 IUs per day for children is a sound preventative measure. Vitamin D3 is a known immune regulator. (Isn’t that great how God has provided us with something like this for FREE?!) Remember, D3, not the common stuff you find stale on the pharmacy shelves. If you take a calcium supplement as well, you’ll dramatically improve the absorption of the Vitamin D3, as does zinc. Other health professionals have recommend taking 1,000 IUs of Vitamin C daily as well as a good source for multi-vitamin, including selenium. (Selenium is an anti-viral and an anti-inflammatory.)

Practical H1N1 Prevention Tidbit #12: Last but not least, try to avoid sugar, which suppresses the full functions of your immune system. Also avoid the less healthy oils such as corn, safflower, peanut, and soybean as they too suppress the immune system. Instead use grapeseed (which has a VERY long shelf-life) sesame, and cold pressed coconut oil if possible.

I’m currently working on an in-depth piece about what to do when you’re threatened or forced to take the vaccination against your will.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Last night as I was perusing our grocery store mailers, one in particular was advertising a 10 pound bag of potatoes for one dollar. I was pretty tickled about that price. Why? Because that means I can have ONE HUNDRED POUNDS of potatoes for only 1 dollar. How? Because it’s easy to convert 10 pounds of potatoes into 100 pounds of potatoes, even if you don’t have any more space than a deck or a small patio.

You can even grow potatoes in the middle of an old tire! Photo c/o Hip Chick Digs

You can even grow potatoes in the middle of an old tire! Photo c/o Hip Chick Digs

It’s all about layered potato growing. Cut your potatoes into quarters. Make sure each quarter has a couple of eyes in it in about 4 inches of dirt. Be sure you don’t pat the dirt down – you want it nice and light. (As an alternative, you can use peat moss instead if you like.) You can do this at the bottom of a 55 gallon drum that has no lid, an old wooden barrel, in the middle of an old tire, or you can simply nail four 4-inch boards together forming a square. Tend to the potato plant like you would any other with sun and occasional watering. Be sure you don’t keep the soil too wet though or you will have blight.

Sprouting potatoes photo c/o Sustainable Eats

Sprouting potatoes photo c/o Sustainable Eats

Wait until the potato “vine” protrudes from the soil about 5-6 inches from the ground. Once it’s grown to that length, add another layer of soil, covering the growth. This will force the seedling to send out shoots underground where your potatoes actually grow. When you add another layer of dirt you can add another layer of tires or boards if you’re building it as you go. (Personally, I think using the 55 gallon dark-colored barrel is the better way to go, because it then also acts as a sort of a root cellar for the potatoes. Yes, drill a few holes at the bottom for drainage.) Continue this repeated process through your growing season. By the end of the season, you’ll have 100 pounds of potatoes in very little space. The potatoes at the bottom of your barrel will be the largest, but the ones at the top are great as well. And better yet, you know what chemicals were (or were NOT) put on the plants while they grew!

This process can be started with seed potatoes instead of the regular ones that you buy in the store, so long as you’re sure they haven’t been treated with chemicals. Keep in mind if the potatoes have been treated with chemicals, they won’t germinate. With the seed potatoes (which can be acquired from your local greenhouse), you will have a more bounteous harvest. The potatoes will grow as tall as you let them. Isn’t that just one more cool thing that we have to be grateful for?

You can leave the covered potatoes in the container during the winter until needed. Be sure to keep them covered though as the sun will aid them in becoming green and toxic. You can also “steal” some potatoes along the way as well – no need to wait until the end of the year to get some yummy potatoes! Just be sure to cover the rest of them back up once you’re done “digging” for potatoes.

New Potatoes. Photo c/o about.com

New Potatoes. Photo c/o about.com

My favorites are New Potatoes or any of the fingerling kinds as well as the Edsel Blue variety.

While potatoes are obviously a great source of starch, they are also a good source of vitamin C and B6, as well as potassium, manganese, tryptophan, and a few other trace minerals such as copper. Contrary to their bad rap among “low carb conscience dieters” the phenolic content of New Potatoes rivals that of broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts. They are also a good fiber source, depending on how you cook them. In my opinion they taste better and are more flavorful if steamed, not boiled. When I’m making mashed potatoes, I love cooking them for just a few minutes in my pressure cooker (obviously!) and then running them through a potato ricer. YUM-MEE. They are so fluffy that way, not waxy.

Well, guess it seems pretty easy now for you to have a year’s worth of spuds!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop
Grapefruit

Grapefruit

Interesting. I have a new find that I want to share with you all. The funny thing is that I’ve had this item in my preparedness supplies for some time. But I admit, I had no idea what it was capable of doing. I had it in there simply as a “just in case” item as opposed to a SUPER multi-purpose item. It is *drum roll*… Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE).

It usually comes in a 4 ounce bottle and is a clear, relatively thick liquid. The tiny hole at the top of the bottle allows you to squeeze it out drop by drop because each drop is some kind of a powerful stuff. Powerful for what you may ask? I’d be happy to tell you.

In a nutshell, grapefruit seed extract is believed to possess anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and anti-VIRAL properties. (Anything you can find that’s anti-viral is a find!) It’s also known to be an effective preservative. A little tiny bit goes a long way! The oil is prepared as an extract from the entire grapefruit—seeds, peel, and all. Even reluctant scientific research has found that GSE kills certain bacteria, molds, and yeasts. (Google it, folks)

NutriBiotic

NutriBiotic

Grapefruit Seed Extract is great for internal and external uses. Internally, you can use a diluted amount as a throat gargle, ear rinse, nasal rinse, and a vaginal rinse. You can also use it as a facial cleaner, a skin cleaner for irritation, and scalp treatment.

Since it’s also an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, you’ll also find it useful to clean your meats, fruits, and vegetables. You can dilute it in a sink full of water and wash your foods that way, or you can dilute it in a spray bottle and use it just as efficiently. It’s also a great option for cleaning your toothbrushes in. You can clean them periodically, or leave the toothbrushes soaked in a diluted mixture in between uses. It’s also fantastic for cleaning and disinfecting your cutting board as well. 

One thing I would caution you on, though. You should not use it full strength—ever.  It’s effective with just a couple drops in some water (No, I’m not going to confess to that one). This is kind of embarrassing, but I had a really painful…um…zit…in my ear. That’s DANG painful. (If you’ve ever had these then you know that they go on for days and days and they HURT.) So on the first day of the noticeable pain, I put a drop of the GSE on the end of a Q-tip and then a couple drops of water and then applied it to the “owwee” area. I only had to suffer for a day and a half instead of the typical week. 

I took some as a throat gargle 2 weeks ago when I noticed that I was trying to fight a sore throat (It’s no wonder with all of the traveling and talking I do). I had no problems the next day. Sore throat was gone.

Now that I’ve finished my research on this product (and after using it this weekend for a head cold) this is definitely one item I’m going to have more of in my supplies. (By the way, the brand I found and liked is NutriBiotic. Just Google it and you’ll find it all over the net at an affordable price. Remember, a little goes a long way.)

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Popcorn photo c/o granitegrok.com/

Popcorn photo c/o granitegrok.com/

Let me ask you a question. Would you cook up fresh popcorn only to stuff it in a garbage bag, store it on the floor of a closet overnight, and then serve it the next day as “fresh popcorn?” Would you even want to eat such a food item? If so, would you be willing to pay “theater prices” for such a treat?

While working for a movie theater, if you saw a drink cup fall to the floor, what would you do with it? Throw it away, right? Ah…but that would be a problem if you were a concession stand employee at the American Fork, Utah Cinemark theaters.

Missi* was newly employed at the Cinemark Theatre at The Meadows in American Fork. Grateful to have a job unlike many kids her age, she was eager to please. On her second day of the job however, she got a rude awakening as to just how much she would be required to do to keep her job. As she spotted a drinking cup drop to the floor, she put it in the trash. According to Missi, her manager, Mr. Bejera, proceeded to yell at her and asked, “What do you think you’re doing?” Thinking that perhaps she had violated some kind of an accounting protocol, she took the cup out of the trash and placed it on the counter where the movie theater put broken and unsalable items. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what Mr. Bejera had in mind. Missi claims that Mr. Bejera continued to holler at her saying, “That cup is not dirty!” He then reclaimed the cup from the counter, placed it on the top of all of the other soda cups to be provided to the consumers and hovered over Missi until she had actually sold the cup to an eager movie-goer.

For those of you who may practice “the three second rule” in your home, you should know that according to my interview with the Utah County Health Department, a concession stand drinking cup is a single-use item and should have been discarded after it fell on the floor.

Photo c/o Melanie Sochan | The Saginaw News

Photo c/o Melanie Sochan | The Saginaw News

Unfortunately, this potential nightmare doesn’t stop there. Missi and two other employees of Cinemark at The Meadows confirmed with me the policy of overnight popcorn storage. The unsold popcorn is placed in a garbage bag—yes, the same ones they use for the garbage cans—NON-food grade—, tied off, and then stored in a closet overnight. One morning when the employees began set-up for the concession stand, they went to retrieve the popcorn bag only to see that it was open. They had no idea if it was left open during the entire night, if the cleaning crew had a sudden craving during their shift, or if any critters had made their way into it during the storage time. Regardless, they retrieved it from the garbage bag and served it fresh that day.

For you to know, the Utah County Health Department Guidelines will permit the popcorn to be served the next day IF it is stored in a food-grade container. Yeah, I’m always putting my leftover chicken teriyaki in a garbage bag and then serving it the next day, aren’t you? In fact, I think Costco would save a us all a whole lot more money if they just bagged all of the bulk items in garbage bags instead of all of that fancy food-grade packaging—don’t you?

But wait. It gets better. The policy at this Cinemark Theater is that when a concession popcorn bag drops on the floor, the employees are required to leave it on the floor UNTIL there aren’t any customers in sight. Then they are required to pick it up and return it with the rest of the popcorn bags to be sold. Now, I ask you. If this is such a safe, ethical, and moral practice, then why are the employees admonished to wait until no customers are in sight?

When you’re ordering a hot dog, you may want to inquire specifically as to when they were cooked. In my opinion, if I’m paying $5-$7 for a hot dog, I don’t want one that was cooked at 11:00 a.m. the day before.

This same Cinemark Theater has a militant policy about employees coming in sick to work. “If you don’t get a replacement for your shift, then you are strongly encouraged to come into work,” says Missi. Don’t you find it interesting that the doctor’s offices don’t even want you to come in with the flu and yet a movie theater insists upon it? Sick employees are berated and treated with contempt for missing work due to illness. Management even goes so far as to arbitrarily require a doctor’s note prior to an employee returning to work if they aren’t satisfied with the timing of the absence. Whether an employee is sick with a headache or flu-like symptoms, the theater has no problem requiring them to work at the concession stand or handling tickets.

Sample Food Handlers Card. Photo c/o kcmo.org

Sample Food Handlers Card. Photo c/o kcmo.org

Were you aware that there are no standard requirements regarding WHEN an employee is to have a Food Handlers Permit? For some practical reasons a great deal of leeway is provided to employers at food establishments as to when their employees must be educated in the handling of food. In the case of this particular Cinemark Theater, numerous employees were able to work at least 30 days at the concession stand without verification of an FHP.

Lastly, as I feared, there are absolutely NO requirements by the health department to clean arm rests, seat backs or door handles in a theater. I interviewed three employees from the theater. None of them could recall a time in which they were asked to clean any more than the “standard”—vacuuming the carpets, cleaning the baseboards, or peeling gum off of the theater seats. So yes, when you rest your hand or arm on that armrest in the theater, you are joining the throngs of people before you who sneezed, spilled, coughed, drooled, etc. Sani-Wipes, anyone? I can assure you that I will never look at popcorn and a soda the same way again. 

As we enter this concerning flu season, I find it even that much more alarming that regard for the public’s health is taking a back seat to the cost of a concession stand cup or popcorn bag. That message speaks much louder to me than any movie promotion ever could.

Cinemark Movie Theater photo c/o lezgetreal

Cinemark Movie Theater photo c/o lezgetreal

You should know that the regional and national Cinemark offices clearly did not take this issue seriously. In spite of several detailed telephone messages over several days, no one felt that this issue was serious enough to merit a comment on this story. I don’t know about you, but the silence on the other end of the phone line speaks volumes in my mind. It solidifies the impression that the company culture of Cinemark tolerates these types of actions and that it’s not isolated to a rogue middle manager. Apparently an issue like this plays second fiddle to what Brad Pitt has to say about his current girlfriend and kids as he promotes his latest film.

So what does all of this have to do with preparedness? As we enter the flu season I’ve shared two articles with you over the past week regarding “germ warfare.” I’ve shared with you many ways that you can be mindful and better prevent yourself from becoming ill amidst all that threatens our bodies during this season. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that part of that prevention may require avoiding a particular movie theater, or perhaps all of them.

May I just remind you that you have every right to be HYPER VIGILANT about your health? Don’t look the other way when you see questionable hygiene or food handling practices. Address it head on. Say something to a manager. Call the health department. (The Health Department assured me that all complaints will be handled anonymously when addressing the business owner.) Ignoring the issue may cost you your life. At the very least it will cost you a couple of sick days. Ultimately you are the one responsible for your health. I can assure you that in the future I will certainly think twice about the real price of attending a movie.

*The real name of the employee has been changed.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Germ Warfare. Photo c/o positivepsychologynews.com

Germ Warfare. Photo c/o positivepsychologynews.com

Yes, you do have a right to be a fanatic. When it comes to war, any war, the winner is always the one who never assumes they are safe. These same tactics must be applied to germ warfare as well.

There just had to be a Part II to my previous article on Germ Warfare. After writing the first article, I kept being mentally nagged by other danger zones I had left out. In some instances, I believe these germ danger zones may be more nefarious than some of those listed in my original article. So read on, and prepare to change some more of your life’s habits.

Soda pop and other canned goods—The other night while I was teaching a class on quarantine/pandemic ironically, a free can of soda pop was offered to everyone in the room. As I watched everyone happily opened their can of pop and drank from it. I on the other hand washed mine at the sink, wiped it off with a sani-wipe and then drank from it—simply because I couldn’t find any straws. Remember, you have absolutely NO idea what rodents the cans were exposed to at their original warehouse, as they were transported, or as they were housed at the retailer you purchased them from. Hanta virus is still a viable concern even if you have no rodents in your own home.

According to a new study, steering wheels have twice as many germs as toilet seats. Photo c/o autoexpress.co.uk

According to a new study, steering wheels have twice as many germs as toilet seats. Photo c/o autoexpress.co.uk

Steering wheel—Even if I avoid the fact that many people have questionable hygiene habits when they are in their own little world in their car, the fact of the matter is, you don’t exactly turn your head away from your steering wheel when you sneeze, cough, etc. Your steering wheel gets the brunt of all that nature expels from your mouth and nose. PLEASE be sure to clean it off regularly with sani-wipes. (If you haven’t picked up on it yet, manufacturers of sani-wipes may be a hot stock pick right about now. :))

Get your drinks WITHOUT ice—I know that’s unfathomable to most of you. But here’s an eye opening statistic. You have a 70% chance of having MORE e-coli (which comes from feces) in your ice than is in the toilet from the same restaurant, airline, hotel, etc. Yes! Not just a 70% chance of finding e-coli there. But a 70% chance that your ice will be MORE contaminated than the toilet water! Studies showed that the number of stars a restaurant or hotel had made no difference in the quality of water in most cases. E-coli is introduced into the water by the water source used to make the ice, bare hands used to load the ice (instead of the scoop) and the fact that the lines to the ice machines are virtually NEVER cleaned out. 

Lemon wedges—avoid them in your drinks. I loathe the taste of tap water but I simply mask the taste by requesting a lemon wedge. Alas, I won’t be doing that any more. Lemon wedges have a 77% chance of being contaminated with e-coli, staph infection, or a myriad of other infectious bacteria. The only good thing you’ve got going for you is the fact that lemon juice is a natural anti-bacterial and disinfectant agent. *whew* Lemons are usually put into your drinks by bare hands despite the fact that they’re supposed to be handled with gloves. However, most restaurants leave it up to the servers to put them in your drinks. Having them placed on your dinner plates should be safe though as that’s usually done by a food handler in the kitchen.

Beware of gas pumps! Photo c/o blog.foreignpolicy.com

Beware of gas pumps! Photo c/o blog.foreignpolicy.com

Gas pumps—If I had to give an award for the LEAST amount of cleaning on a public item ever, gas pumps would win hands down. Think about it. When have you EVER seen someone clean those? When you pump your gas, use a paper towel that the station usually has on hand or at least sanitize the heck out of your hands before you touch ANYTHING else—including your keys.

Last but not least is a stern word of warning about playgrounds. Those bouncy houses that your kids play in NEVER get sanitized. They get vacuumed sometimes, but never fully cleaned. The ones containing the bouncy balls are a cesspool of germs of the grossest kinds. When have you ever seen a school janitor clean the chains on the swings or the bars on the monkey bars or the handles on the teeter totters? How about the playground equipment such as balls, jump ropes, etc? It’s imperative that you teach your kids to SANITIZE their hands after recess or after using such equipment on any occasion.

Bottom line, you have EVERY right to be fanatical about your health care. This is your life we’re talking about here. You MUST be in a heightened state of awareness in order to prevent you and your family from getting unnecessarily ill. One touch is all it takes folks, so be mindful. You wouldn’t take your kid down a dark alley in the middle of the city at 3:00 a.m. Making contact with e-coli or the Hanta virus or the H1N1 virus isn’t any less of a gamble. So start putting the odds in your favor. This is called germ warfare for a reason. Position yourself to win every battle.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Is there a better way to store fruits and vegetables? Are there better kinds or times to purchase them? Is there one preservation process that’s more nutritious than others? The answers to these questions all depends on what you are ultimately more concerned about. Taste, texture, freshness, appearance (familiarity) or nutrition. What I’m going to provide you with today is simply a rule of thumb as to the hierarchy of the condition of the fruits and vegetables to obtain in terms of nutrition and cost. Then you’ll need to decide, as always, which type really fits your family.

Fresh Produce photo c/o Wiedmaier

Fresh Produce photo c/o Wiedmaier

The first choice for most people when obtaining fruits and vegetables is to get them fresh–either they grow their own or they purchase them from the store. However, you should be aware that the nutritional content does vary dramatically dependent on what types of pesticides and other chemicals are used and WHEN the fruits and vegetables are harvested. Obviously, harvesting them at their peak time in an organic setting will be the most enjoyable and nutritious for your family. The downside to fresh produce is that you don’t know if they were harvested at the ideal time. And even if they were, how long did they travel before they got to your store? How much will you end up having to toss as a result of spoilage? These types of mostly unanswerable questions make the top dollar you pay for fresh produce a bit of a gamble. I wonder if fresh really does belong at the top of the produce hierarchy?

Having said that tough, I’m all for making my own FRESH produce by growing my own sprouts. Sprouts have significantly more nutrition in them than just about any produce you can purchase anywhere. Not only that, but they are economical and they contain no nasty chemicals. Remember, you can easily sprout any whole grain, nut, legume, or seed. (Stay away from the flowers on tomatoes and potato sprouts. They are toxic.) I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my husband actually got me hooked on having sprouts on my sandwiches instead of lettuce. In fact, at the end of this article I’ve got a GREAT Orange Marmalade Sprout Salad recipe for you. Yum!

Blue Chip Freeze Dried Products photo c/o utahdealdiva.com

Blue Chip Freeze Dried Products photo c/o utahdealdiva.com

So, if not fresh, then what’s next on the hierarchy? Freeze-dried. Not to be confused with dehydrated. Freeze-dried produce typically contains 90-95 percent of the same nutrition as picked-in-their-prime fresh produce. And there are no contaminants with freeze-dried produce. I’ve not kept it a secret that I’m in love with all of the freeze-dried fruits and vegetables that Blue Chip Foods manufacturers. They truly are my favorite. I can do just about anything with freeze-dried produce as I can with fresh. They take very little, if any, time to reconstitute. The taste packs a punch of REALISM that you wouldn’t expect. The fruit doesn’t taste soggy like frozen, defrosted fruit does and I’ve also discovered that it’s actually quite economical. I don’t end up throwing away ANY freeze-dried produce despite the fact that my hubby isn’t a veggie fan. I find myself eating the strawberries, raspberries, bananas, and peas right out of the #10 cans. Dollar for dollar, the purchase price is the SAME between fresh and freeze-dried when you get the cans at regular price—even better when they go on sale. That’s right. I can pay $35 for about the same amount of raspberries at a farmer’s market right now as I would get freeze-dried in a #10 can. Yet there will inevitably be some waste with the fresh produce. That’s just how Mother Nature works. Whereas the freeze dried product I purchase is guaranteed to maintain its nutrition, taste, and texture for a full 18 months AFTER I’ve opened the can, and for years and years when prior to opening. This is why I use the freeze-dried versions as much as possible, everyday. I use the peas in my tuna casserole, the apple slices in my apple crisp, the strawberries in an easy jam made with clear gelatin and water, etc. etc. etc. I love how I never have to cry over cutting an onion. I just open the can, scoop up the amount I need, sauté it, and I’ve got carmelized onions or whatever the recipe calls for. I never have to slice or dice peppers, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli—well, you get the point. (I AM a bit zealous when it comes to my freeze-dried produce, aren’t I? I sometimes even get goosebumps just telling people about it in my classes. Too bad you aren’t close enough to get a sample of these yummy raspberries right now.) 🙂

Dehydrated fruits and vegetables photo c/o yes-green.com

Dehydrated fruits and vegetables photo c/o yes-green.com

Next in the hierarchy are dehydrated fruits and veggies. This level of nutrition is at approximately 70-75 percent of the same nutrition as fresh produce—even when you dehydrate your own.  You can enjoy dehydrated produce easily as a snack and they make easy additions to slow cooking dishes. Otherwise you need to reconstitute them and that may take a while and a bit of water. (You can also dehydrate meat successfully, but that’s another article.) When you dehydrate produce you don’t have to use your oven to do so. You can simply use the good old sunshine by itself or make use of a great solar oven. Dehydration is quite simple to do yourself, however, most dehydrated foods sold commercially are about the same cost as freeze-dried. If you have the choice, pick the freeze-dried version. Here’s a tip. When you’re rehydrating your foods, instead of using water to do so, use broth, juice, milk, or the water from the cans of other ingredients—whatever is already a part of your recipe. It will give your dish a much greater flavor. When I reconstitute apple chips, I use this yummy “Apple Delight” drink I get from Blue Chip. When reconstituting vegetables, I’ve also been known to use the water from the cans of other veggies I may be using in order to no throw any more nutrients and flavor out than necessary. I’ve also used the pasta water, potato water, etc.

Next, and definitely last in the hierarchy is canned. Canned produce keeps about 40-45 percent of the same nutrition as fresh right off the bat. Even when you do it yourself, you’re not likely to obtain more than 50 percent of the nutritional value as you would a fresh piece of produce. Obviously, the longer you store it, the more of its nutrition you lose. I personally do not can my own fruits and vegetables. Why? Because I can purchase the canned goods for a much better price than what my time and energy are worth—especially with coupons! And considering what all I get in return, in terms of nutrition, I just don’t think it’s worth the money. I’d rather pay more for the other options.

One point I do want to make. When you purchase fresh produce, such as the oversized bags of spinach at Costco, don’t hesitate to freeze it. The frozen produce is great and you don’t need to do anything special with it. Just seal it and throw it in your freezer. (The frozen spinach makes for great healthy smoothies or a lightly blanched spinach salad.) Of course you know that tomatoes, lettuce, and other high water content produce don’t freeze so well. So use your best judgment on that.

Hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two about what produce to select for your family for long and short term storage. While it may be more important that your family see something familiar at mealtime as opposed to something freeze dried, at least you can now make an educated decision.

Orange Marmalade Sprout Salad

Orange marmalade photo c/o notecook.com

Orange marmalade photo c/o notecook.com

Dressing:

Combine the following ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk

2 T. Orange Marmalade

4 T. Olive Oil

1 T. Balsamic Vinegar

1 pinch of red pepper flakes

 Drizzle the dressing over about 4 to 6 cups of fresh sprouts of your choosing. I also like to lightly toast some nuts and put these on the salad as well. This is yummy and something you can easily make with food storage ingredients.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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