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Monday, August 31, 2009

No, REALLY, don't eat raw cookie dough

  Your mother always told you not to eat the cookie dough. Not just because it was a greedy thing to do, and not just because you'd wind up with fewer cookies, but because there were raw eggs and possibly other ingredients that desperately needed to be baked to make them safe for you to eat.

Strangely enough, mothers who give this advice now have a mascot for their cause: Linda Rivera, Hospitalized After Eating Nestlé Cookie Dough, Tries to Stay Alive - (, 8/31/09). It is a very sad story, and I hope she pulls through. It's also a bit of a "scary" warning story that your mother, ever cautious, might appreciate. Plus, it is a commentary on the trust that people have, however misplaced, with the food industry.
The Rivera family never gave much thought to food-borne illness. "You watch a commercial, you go into a store and you just assume it's okay to eat," said Linda's husband, Richard, a sales manager for a Web site. "I assume if it's on a shelf, it's safe. But this whole thing has changed the way I look at food."
Assuming that something is safe because it is on a shelf is such a peculiar thing. Think of cigarettes; think of pesticides that home gardeners apply without following the safety instructions; think of anything really gross that you have seen sold as "food" but would never personally eat.

Just because it is sold in a package, doesn't mean it is good for us. And it especially doesn't mean it is "clean" and safe to eat RAW. (Or cooked, actually. [Early childhood hospitalization for salmonella story omitted.]) You know this, I know this... But there is a misplaced trust out there, where a bit of grown-up skepticism is called for instead.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Monday, March 31, 2008


"They should not compare them to ordinary household objects!"

(Sympathetic quote from the receptionist/writer at the office.)

My mother recently learned that, among other things, she has a large tumor on one of her ovaries. This knowledge was the result of my mother demanding tests after years of peculiar pains and discomfort, none of which was taken very seriously by any of her previous doctors despite abundant evidence that menopause was not taking a reasonably acceptable course.

We are all terribly concerned. It has been especially tough that the doctor discovered the tumor, floated the possibility of cancer, and then left town for about a week. It was a week of helplessness and limited information.

She said the tumor is the size of a tangerine.

I am a foodie and I work in the juice industry. I go to farmers markets frequently. I see a lot of fruit. Now, when I look at lemons, I see lemons; when I look at navel oranges, I see navel oranges; but when I see tangerines of any variety, I see them as models for tumors. Sometimes I imagine the word "tumor" stamped on them in black.

Something like this was described to me before: when my father suffered his big stroke, his doctor said he'd lost part of his brain the size of an egg. That was alarming - a grade A (or AA) chicken egg is huge - but I don't buy or handle eggs, so the idea was just scary for the idea of losing brain only. Scary, but not something that would haunt me in the green grocer's.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

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