EATING OUT with bugs.

We need to eat safe and healthy food in order to survive. Most of us cook at home on a daily basis and on occasion eat outside. To cater to tourists and locals, billions of restaurants and road side eateries have popped up in the past few decades. With the growth and expansion of the cities and with the invention of the automobiles came the massive development of the suburbs. Roads started connecting cities to the suburbs. This started the boom in the development of mega-malls, super-centers and Big Box stores. These roads then created a viable transport route for both passengers and cargo to travel far and wide. People wanted to stay away from cities but work in them. So they had decided to take on the daily commute in order to live in a wide spacious home without the hustle and bustle of the city life. This initiated the ball rolling for the rat race that we know and are experiencing today.

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The more time we spend either at work or at home we do need to eat on a daily basis. With restaurants and eateries in every corner, we found it much easier to start eating out than cooking at home. Back then one parent in a house hold worked outside home. Fast forward to today both parents are forced to work for economic reasons. With kids comes school and extra curricular activities. So the entire family is busy during the day and after school. With no time to spare, eating out had stated becoming the norm for the working class families. Food has become cheaper over the years. So it has become affordable for a family of four to eat out at least once a week.

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Nothing is better, tastier, safer and healthier than home cooked food. But we still choose to eat out. Why is it so? Is it because food is cheap or is it because we desire to have food that fast, cheap and easy? It looks like it. At the end of a hard days work, the last thing we want to do is to cook. It’s much easier to pay a few dollars and take food home for the whole family. But we do not know the what is in that food. Do we know it’s nutritional value or all we do care is to fill our stomach FAST.  May be it’s instant gratification. Today we see all sorts of food sources from which we could eat in an instant. In major cities across the glob we can have food delivered to us at our beck and call. We have the luxury to eat any type of food that we desire 24/7. We can eat in restaurants, roadside eateries, food trucks, diners, street fairs and in boardwalks to name a few. But do we know if it’s healthy for us.

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Eating out also may come at a cost. That is the cost to our health. We have heard of food contamination, food poisoning and what not in the news. Most of the time it is safe to eat in established restaurants or even on street side cafes, but we never know. All it takes is one time to have a negative experience of eating out. When we travel the World most countries have food safety regulations that govern the hygienic conditions in which food is prepared. But in some countries food is handled with the bare hands. In some others cheap and inexpensive food ingredients may be substituted for expensive ones. In others food dyes or colors may be used to entice the customer to buy. There have been instances and reports of coloring agents being injected to watermelons, tomatoes and others to enhance the color of the cut fruit. On top of that we need to worry about the quality of the water the food is cooked in. This is a concern in many places. Where there is food, there are pests. These have the capacity to be carriers of  various diseases. Do we know how clean is the kitchen in the restaurant we are eating in? Do they have protocols in place for food safety? What are the hygiene requirements that govern the cooks, assistants and other food handlers? How clean are the restrooms? There is a saying that if the restrooms are clean, the kitchens must be too. But looks may be deceptive. High end restaurants which cater to the elite usually take hygiene and cleanliness to a higher level. But we are not talking about them here. If you have gone to a buffet lunch you know that each food item has a tong that is used to pick food and transfer it to your plate. Each customer is touching that same tong over and over with their bare hands. How clean is it? The food is very cheap but cleanliness is highly questionable.

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Today we hear of food allergies that were uncommon back then. Peanut allergy and allergy to dairy products were unheard of just three decades ago. Have we lost our immunity or have the modification of food altered our very genetic makeup. Will it be affecting our future generations? Are we poisoning ourselves? If organic is considered healthy, why are we not demanding it? Why are we even eating non-organic food in the first place? Why is it priced more? If it’s mass produced, price should come down? Are we losing the battle in fight diseases naturally? Most eateries in most countries are ill equipped to handle an allergic response. At a time where every second counts, are we as customers prepared to handle such situations. More over we may need to take into consideration, the language barrier, local currency, vicinity to a hospital and emergency protocols that are in place in that country or locale. What if you are in a foreign country and face this situation? How would you or anyone handle it? Science has opened our eyes to both beneficial and harmful bugs and today we know which is which. It’s a matter of taking the necessary precaution by following a strict dose of overall cleanliness and personal hygiene.

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Food poisoning is a major gamble that we take every time that we eat out. Now let’s talk about the cleanliness of the cutlery which includes, plates, spoons, fork and knives. We go and visit our Physicians, Dentists and vets. We expect them to have all of their instruments sterilized well before they use it on us, their patients. There are various regulations that govern their infection control systems.They also have emergency protocols in place should an adverse event happens. When we eat at a restaurant, how many of us think about the cleanliness of the cutlery. Neither do we think about it, do we have the courage to ask nor do we seem to care. The use of reusable fork, knife and spoons is perfectly OK. The concern is the same spoon is basically run through the dishwasher and is bought back to the table. Forks and spoons are literally shoved into the mouth of a customer while eating. Our mouth has saliva and tons of bacteria. Now you see where I am heading with this. You get the point. In the 21st century don’t we think we should be demanding cleanliness at a much higher level similar to that is demanded of from our Healthcare Professionals. I would think so. In situations like these I prefer disposables over stainless steel reusable cutlery. But non-biodegradable disposables have become a major problem to our environment.

Imagine the amount of plastic spoons, fork and plates that are being discarded each and every day across the globe. I prefer to reuse cutlery over polluting our Planet with plastics, but on one condition. To hold cleanliness and Hygiene with high regard and to look at them at a much higher level than just running cutlery under hot water.

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