“take a dirt vitamin”

“The 5 second rule” is a rule I can live by. I refer to, of course, a reference to dropping food on the floor or ground and picking it up quickly so that it is still safe to consume.  It is a rule that we have followed in the Rohrer household for decades (although we are not real concerned about the standard of 5 seconds). I am quite flexible in applying the rules…five seconds, five minutes, five hours… just wipe it on the jeans and good to go. A little dirt is fine but I usually try to pick off the dog hair.

When I am grilling hot dogs, I have unscientifically determined that 12.5% fall in the ground (1 out of a package of 8). I kindly protect my guests from dirt and germs by wiping off the “guilty” dog. Never has been an issue but I do watch for grimaces.

I read that a new study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, has found that bacteria can contaminate food in anywhere from 1 to 300 seconds depending on the food and the surface it falls on. The conclusion…the 5 second rule may not be a good rule to live by.  It said nothing about the effectiveness of wiping food off using clothing.

So what now? Are we going to forsake perfectly good food simply because it happens to land on the ground due to fumble fingers? 

As you well know, I am no doctor or scientist but that has never stopped me.  I think consuming a little dirt, a little bacteria, a little hair is good for you. Not only does it build a little character but it creates flexibility and the willingness to try new things and who likes picky kids?

I remember studies that indicated that children exposed to germs and dirt have stronger immune systems. John Hopkins Medicine released information back in June 2014 that newborns exposed to dirt, dander and germs may have lower allergy and asthma risk. In addition, I found a number of published articles on studies showing that children growing up on farms have lower allergy and asthma rates, a phenomenon attributed to the regular exposure to micro-organisms present in farm soil.

And throw this into the mix… The FDA has issued a final rule on safety and effectiveness on antibacterial soaps. The rule is going to remove some over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body washes.  Why? Because there is no evidence that these washes are any more effective at preventing the spread of germs than plain soap and water.

This will probably jinx me but I have been very fortunate most of my life in resisting illness caused by bacteria, germs and other stuff you can’t see.  I point to my childhood years in regular exposure to micro-organisms…I played in farm soil, farm yards, farm pig pens, farm gardens, farm grain bins, farm pastures, farm timber and everything else named farm. There was no antibacterial hand or body wash back then that I recall…just lava soap that doubled as sand paper.

I furthered my ability to battle germs by going to college, leaving my mother at home for four years. Without mom around, my cleaning and food storage/preparation went from zero ability into the negative. I remember some college refrigerator experiments involving mold of which I occasionally unintentionally consumed. Mold is given me the willies ever since.

College was also the scene for some milk chugging incidents (yes, milk). When I grabbed a jug of milk from the fridge, I would frequently skip the use of a glass (why dirty a perfectly clean glass). It was always a shock to my system when the milk that hit the back of my throat had the consistency of cottage cheese and taste of sour whey. That’s when I developed the highly scientific “smell first” test.

How are kids today building strong immune systems and antibodies? There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of soil exposure on video games, phones and electronic devices…certainly not enough to get dirt under the fingernails from playing all day. I suppose, I could be wrong?

So, I’m thinking that the only way to properly expose kids to quality bacteria and germs is to continue to advocate the five second rule. It is either that or Dr. Oz’s could do a TV show on “How to get your kid dirty”. Getting dirty could be thought of as providing quality healthcare for children! So kids, go play in the mud and like it!

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One of my favorite seasons is nearly upon us… Pumpkin Everything Season. Soon, every day, we will have pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin bundt cake, pumpkin decorations, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin carving, pumpkin guts, pumpkin seeds (roasted and salted), pumpkin candy, pumpkin smashing, and most importantly…Giant Pumpkins.

I certainly hope to see you at this year’s Giant Pumpkin Contest!