The Greek goddess Aphrodite was broken hearted when she heard Adonis had perished. Myth has it her tears fell to earth as red hearts, and strawberries were created! This oh-so-good-for-you fruit delivers a phytonutrient called anthocyanins that can help slash your risk of a broken heart. Ironic, no? Eating berries three times a week helps prevent heart attack!
But you want to get berry benefits without risking a tummy ache, diarrhea or worse. Berries, along with leafy greens, potatoes, tomatoes and sprouts, are the fresh produce most likely to trigger food-borne illness. That's because they can harbor salmonella, norovirus, E. coli and other troublemakers if produce is exposed to contaminated water or mishandled during processing or shipping. Fruits and veggies also can pick up these bugs in your kitchen if you don't store or cook them correctly, or if they come in contact with raw meat or seafood. So ...
Wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after handling produce.
Cut away discolored or soft spots and outside or wilted leaves. Skip the sprouts unless cooked.
Wash produce in running water - no soap or disinfectant - even if you're going to peel or cook it. Dry to further remove contaminants.
Scrub firm produce like melons, potatoes or cucumbers with a vegetable brush. Dry well.
Store all produce in the fridge at 40 F.
Cooking produce to 160 F, for even a few seconds, will kill parasites, viruses and most bacteria. Take extra care when cooking potatoes (or keeping them warm) in aluminum foil; it's a greenhouse for microorganisms.
© King Features Syndicate