I was making my lunch today—half a ham sandwich on wheat with a generous swipe of mayo—when the wet side of the bread suddenly upended and landed face down on the cardboard package that our deli ham came in.
Gross. I don’t know where that cardboard carton has been. So I threw the bread in the trash and started over. Better safe than sorry, I thought.
Ever since I first read that report about invisible germs on shopping cart handles, my quasi-hypochondriac imagination has focused on all the other places germs hide in plain sight, ready to do a kamikaze dive into my intestinal tract.
I’ve imagined the hands of indecisive shoppers who pick up chicken packages, put them down, and then backtrack to the produce section of the store where they sort through green onions before deciding they’ll buy tomatoes instead. It’s not just pesticides that are out to get us, I thought, it’s germy stranger hands, too.
I’ve contributed to this problem, though. I used to boil hot dogs in their plastic packages in a pot of water so they’d cook in their own undiluted juices. Then I’d cut open the package handled by mysterious grocery store workers with unknown hygiene habits, then dropped on the floor by clumsy customers and restocked by efficient clerks, and now boiled in my kitchen. All those innocent hot dogs went floating in invisible germs before I ever took a big ol’ bite.
I don’t know how we survived.
So imagine my surprise when I saw this post on a friend’s face book page today—eating your boogers may introduce pathogens from your environment to your immune system and help it build defenses. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/13/nose-picking.aspx
It left me so cybershocked, now I’m re-thinking my entire worldview.
What if you don’t really need to wash your hands before dinner? What if the three-second rule is too conservative? Is a daily shower a waste of water? Should I dust the house like they did on The Munsters, spraying the furniture liberally with choking particles? Why, just this very week I paid someone to vacuum and mop and dust away all those healthy germs in my house! What if that proves to be our death knoll?!
I’m starting to panic here.
I remember someone telling me once that we all need to eat a teaspoon of dirt a day. We were probably making mud pies at the time. But I’ve known for years that house rules are a lot different than camping rules. If silverware falls on the floor while I’m setting the table, for example, poof! Into the dishwasher it goes. But if a fork falls on the open ground in the woods, I blow it off even if it still has campfire beans on it and use it to finish my dinner. Nobody gives a second thought to dirt in the woods.
Now that I think of it, once my kiddos stopped playing in the dirt and started playing computer games instead, our immune systems nearly disintegrated. I tried to compensate by adopting a pet, but everyone knows kid germs are way more deadly than letting a dirty dog live in your house. And I’m fresh out of live-in kiddos.
All this makes me think I should have just eaten that contaminated sandwich today. Who knows what strain of bird flu I could have been protected from if I’d been better informed about store-bought microorganisms. And if we keep buying into Johnson & Johnson’s propaganda about eliminating germs, the next thing you know, we could be turning up daisies six feet under the very dirt that might have saved our lives.
That does it. I’m tossing the Purell and never washing the dog again. Hopefully that will be enough to undo the damage I’ve done by keeping a clean house.
Cuz no matter what that article said, I just don’t think I can eat my own boogers. Germs may be our only hope, but I’m scared to death of pathogens.
Cutie patootie photo courtesy of its*me*red's photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/26321678@N00/298302937