Tracie Cone has always been a trailblazer. This award-winning journalist is the former California Newspaper Executive of the Year. She shares a Pulitzer Prize with fellow staff members at the Miami Herald for coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and has twice been nominated individually. She has focused her writing on helping the underdog and empowering those without a strong voice of their own. Now she takes us on the fight of her life.
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Beware of “Organic” Lettuce

As my energy fades during this last round of chemo, I wanted to take time to post this warning about a potential carcinogen danger with pre-washed organic lettuce that recently was pounded home.

I had heard of this before, but after a recent visit from a dear friend who worked in the organics industry (and shall remain anonymous, but trust me on this!), I was reminded to mark it off my shopping list.

Sure it’s easy to use and probably prompts us to eat more greens. But did you know that pre-washed “organic” lettuce (and all pre-washed lettuces) are soaked in water loaded with the carcinogen chlorine? And everyone knows lettuce absorbs water through the leaves and stems, so you are eating it, my friends.

Adding heavy amounts of chlorine is the result of the e-coli spinach debacle that nearly ruined California’s greens industry a few years back. The irony is that chlorine doesn’t kill e-coli, I’m told. Yet the government lets lettuce packagers use it, ironically to make us feel better about the safety of the pre-packaged greens.

Even worse than eating chlorine-tainted lettuce is the impact on workers on the wash lines, most of them immigrant women who work long shifts breathing chlorine fumes, which my friend says is overpowering in the warehouses.

So what can you do? Buy fresh, organic bunch lettuce and wash it yourself. Soak it many times, spin it dry and store in the refrigerator.

And read labels on everything you buy. The FDA allows carcinogens in too many food and beauty products to list. Remember, in the USA a chemical is good until proven bad. In the European Union a chemical has to be proven safe to be used.

What’s wrong with us? Oh, yes, Congress answers to the rich, generous and active chemical lobby.

3 Responses to “Beware of “Organic” Lettuce”

  • Sue Morrow:

    I’ll join you on this mission. This may explain why prewashed greens last a whole longer than they should. Just my observation…it’s always seemed a bit odd.

  • Michelle:

    I always wondered why the package lettuce taste so bad. Another way to get organic and fresh lettuce is grow your own. It is a wonderful winter vegetable and grows well in Fresno. The lettuce will grow back clipping after clipping. You can have a fresh salad everyday!!!!

  • maria:

    Thanks for the info. Good to know. I’m glad Ive stopped buy packaged lettuce! wish I had a garden. Keep these informational posts coming!!! :) Hope you get your energy back in not time:)

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