Back in 2011 we did a spotlight on a few of the celebrities that have taking up the fight to bring communities clean water. Nearly 5 years later and the world continues to face growing concerns over quality and quantity of drinking water in our communities. Likewise, many big names continue to use their fame to advocate for clean water. Their methods include speaking for those without a voice loud enough to be heard. Donating resources like money or water bottles. In some cases funding new projects that may one day transform the way we fill our cups.
Mark Wahlberg, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Eminem, and Cher
When you need to take action that is when you call on some of the biggest names in entertainment today. Sean Combs and Mark Wahlberg were already a team and in a powerful position to aid the residents of Flint, Michigan when the lead contamination water crisis struck. Having formed AQUAhydrate, a “Southern California-based performance water brand founded in cutting-edge technology and science”, back in 2012, the pair reacted immediately by shipping 5,000 cases of water with the promise that 1,000,000 total bottles would be donated.
Eminem, a Detroit native, has long been an advocate for the state of Michigan. Having used Detroit as a backdrop from a number of songs including “Beautiful,” and even staring in a series of Chrysler commercials promoting the automotive plants that still reside inside the city, the rapper teamed with Mark Wahlberg and Sean Combs to encourage fan contributions in addition to donating money of his own.
Many names in music have pledged to help the residence of Flint, Michigan recover from the water crisis. Among the already mentioned performers is one we can not forget, Cher. The singer-songwriter and Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Award winner is the namesake of the Cher Charitable Foundation, in addition to her other interests that includes support for health research, anti-poverty initiatives, veterans rights, and vulnerable children. After news of lead contamination began to spread, Cher teamed wtih with Los Angeles-based Icelandic Glacial to donate 181,440 bottles of water. The water bottle company is said to “source water from the naturally replenishing underground Ölfus Spring that was formed during a massive volcanic eruption over 5,000 years ago.”
Back in 2008 before most Americans knew what fracking was, Mark Ruffalo, founder of the non-profit Water Defense and advisory board member of Americans Against Fracking expressed concern over the practice of injecting water or other materials into the ground to retrieve oil. Following the Flint, Michigan water crisis he penned an essay for the Washing Post drawing attention to the fact that million of people in the U.S., have for years been consuming water with unsafe levels of contaminates. More recently, he appeared on “Real Time with Bill Maher” to discuss the impact of fracking on Los Angelas communities.
Bill and Melinda Gates
In an earlier article we wrote how the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation was challenging the future of infrastructure with the Janicki Bioenergy’s Omni Processor. In a little bit of an update, the Omni Processor is finally in Dakar, Senegal where waste sludge is being turned into electricity, ash for building, and drinking water. This machine is not just a tool to reduce the outbreak of waterborne diseases but also encourage entrepreneurship. Communities will own and operate the Omni Processor and sell the by-product of the processed waste to help create sustainable economies in regions that desperately need quality goods, crops, and clean water
Are you in the habit of washing fruits and vegetables you buy from grocery stores or farmers markets before eating them? It is easy to think of nature’s bounty as a pure source of good nutrition that can’t have any ill effect. You would be right if it was grown in your backyard without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. Except for many of us that isn’t the case.
Think about the last time you went to the grocery store. Did you pick up a piece of fruit or vegetable, turn it in your hand and check for ripeness before setting it back down? This is common practice and unfortunately a lot of people aren’t so meticulous about keeping their hands clean. Consider that before ever reaching the display a farmer has plucked the fruit with dirty hands or grimy machinery, in addition to the use of pesticides to protect their crops from insects. These potentially unsafe handling practices can spark outbreaks of E.coli or other long-term health issues that can lead to serious health problems.
The issue of eating unclean produce even extends to organically grown food, as a Scientific America article mentions:
“Even if the organic food you’re eating is from a farm which uses little to no pesticides at all, there is another problem: getting rid of pesticides doesn’t mean your food is free from harmful things. Between 1990 and 2001, over 10,000 people fell ill due to foods contaminated with pathogens like E. coli, and many have organic foods to blame. That’s because organic foods tend to have higher levels of potential pathogens.”
The article goes on to say, “the reason for the higher pathogen prevalence is likely due to the use of manure instead of artificial fertilizers, as many pathogens are spread through fecal contamination. Conventional farms often use manure, too, but they use irradiation and a full array of non-organic anti-microbial agents as well, and without those, organic foods run a higher risk of containing something that will make a person sick.”
Let’s cut to the chase. Cleaning fruits and vegetables isn’t difficult. Except water alone isn’t enough. In supermarkets you will find packaging for certain products that read: Double or triple washed. This may be enough but doesn’t provide enough of a guarantee as a lot of produce, vegetables especially, have deep crevices or areas that might not be exposed to running water.
NPR looked at a Cook’s Illustrated study to determine the best method to cleaning fruits and vegetables . The outcome? Using a scrub brush removes 85% of bacteria, while diluting 1 cup of white vinegar in 3 cups water works to remove 98% of bacteria. Because that is the most effective method for clean food, it’s what we want everyone to to use going forward.
It is also very easy! For smooth skinned produce you can fill a spray bottle and coat the surface of your produce 6 or more times, let it sit for 30 seconds, then rinse. Lettuce, Kale, broccoli, and other produce with areas that are hard to clean need to soak for 2-minutes in the same 1-to-3 solution of white vinegar and water. Note that leaves should be separated to ensure complete coverage. To prevent cross-contamination clean your sink when finished!
That leaves one final question: Tap water or filtered water? The point of washing our food is to ensure total food safety! As we recently wrote, filtering tap water isn’t all that expensive. There are chemicals in our water supply like chlorine that kill bacteria but leave behind unpleasant tastes and can damage the cells in our body. Plus, contaminants are proving to be an ever-present threat even in large cities where we would clean water would be more important when hundreds of thousands are at risk.
So yes, you should definitely filter your water before cleaning fruit or vegetables! Whatever you expose your food to leaves a risk of contamination.
Since you will be working around your sink when washing fruit and vegetables, we highly recommend a water faucet filter or under sink water filter system. Faucet filter systems either twist onto the end of the spout or sit between the water line and the faucet. Under sink systems stay out of sight though require tools and a little know-how to install. Either solution gives you cleaner water at the turn of a handle. Remember, filtered water is marginally more expensive that tap water alone, with most water filters capable of removing waterborne contaminants from hundreds of gallons of water before they should be replaced.