Friday, June 3, 2011

Lettuce and Tomatoes and Cucumbers, Oh My!

Scientists and Complicated Stuff

The World Health Organization is currently investigating a particularly nasty strain of E. coli that is making people in Europe extremely ill. Since the bacteria has been traced to cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes, Europeans are steering clear of salads these days. A wise choice.

            Of course, the scientists studying the outbreak have all kinds of questions to answer. They want to know more about this mutated strain of e-coli. They want to know where it came from. They want to know how it got into the infected vegetables. They want to know…why the outbreak mainly hit women over 20.

            Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization, reports,Previous E. coli outbreaks have mainly hit children and the elderly, but the European outbreak is disproportionately affecting adults, especially women. There might be something particular about the bacteria strain that makes it more dangerous for adults.”

            Really? “Something particular about the bacteria strain?” It sounds to me like she’ll need a heap of grant money to test out that hypothesis.

Now consider this personal observation:

“Do you want salad for lunch? I bought the nicest tomatoes and lettuce at the farmers’ market. I love summer, don’t you?”

            “Uh huh.”

            “I’ll wash the lettuce and you cut up the veggies, OK?”

            “Uh uh.”

            “Use your words, sweetie. I don’t understand what you’re telling me.”

            “Jeez, Mom, I’m seventeen. That Sesame Street voice drives me nuts.”

            Of course it does. That’s why I still use it.

            Alex sighed heavily and rolled his eyes so far back in his head that I could only see white. I wondered for a moment if I was going to have to call 911. Then I wondered how many teenagers got their eyes stuck like that every year. Do you suppose hospitals keep statistics on how many teens are brought in with severe eye-rollback? That’s probably important information to know if you’re lucky enough to be the parent of a teen.

“Yes, I love summer. No, I don’t want salad for lunch.”

            “Really? Are you sure?”

            “Yup. I love summer.”

            He grinned at me.

            I bit my bottom lip to keep from laughing. “You don’t want salad for lunch?”

            “Nope. You want me to pick up something for you at Chik-fil-A?”

            “I’m going to have salad, but thanks anyway,” I answered.

Wait for it, wait for it….

            “Do you have a couple bucks I can borrow?”

            It was my turn to sigh. “Are you sure you don’t want a salad?”

            “Oh, I’m sure.”

            “Hand me my purse.”

            “Thanks, Mom.” He bent down and kissed the top of my head as I handed him $10.

            “Whatever,” I mumbled. “That just leaves more salad for me.”

Which leaves us with my scientific theory:

           I think that women over 20 were disproportionately affected by E. coli because women over 20 eat more salads than other groups. If they have eaten more of the infected vegetables than other groups, wouldn't you expect them to have a higher instance of illness? I would. Simple. Case closed. 

In Conclusion:

            I would like to suggest that the grant money that is currently being used to figure out why women over 20 were disproportionately affected by E. coli be used to fund a study on the effect of eye-rolling in the teenage population. Many parents suspect that long-term use of this gesture of disgust has caused brain damage in their teens. It would be nice to know for sure.