Monday, June 6, 2011

Attack Of the Killer Bean Sprout

by Niki Turner

With thousands sickened across Europe, and 22 reported deaths, scientists have traced the spread of a virulent form of the E. coli bacteria to a batch of bean sprouts from Germany.
photo by Charles Haynesvia PhotoRee

Twenty years ago, we were warned away from hamburgers after an E. coli outbreak began at a Jack-in-the-Box fast food chain in the Northwest U.S.

A couple years ago, it was peanut butter. Then spinach, or tomatoes. Maybe it was both. Now it's bean sprouts. It's enough to make you want to eschew the fresh veggies we're all supposed to be eating!  

Balancing the influx of "latest studies" that tell us what to eat and what not to eat to avoid sickness and disease with the fear-mongering media headlines has become a constant battle for the general public. Overwhelmed by conflicting information, most of us have apparently given up and gone to McDonald's.

So what's the solution? Shall we adopt the fatalistic que sera, sera (what will be, will be) attitude? Shall we live in terror and uncertainty about the food we consume? Shall we look forward to the days of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" when all our nutrition is encapsulated into three pills a day? (Think of the time we could save ... no cooking, no dishes, no grocery shopping!) Some of us might be able to handle the pill idea, but I'm betting our menfolk will balk. What's left to us?

Let's turn to the Word.

The Bible was written during a time when there was no refrigeration, no water purification, no pesticides, no irradiation of vegetables. The Old Testament is filled with instructions about the food the Hebrews were allowed, and not allowed, to consume. Many of those instructions have connections to health issues unknown to science at that time. (Undercooked meat can make you sick, shellfish can carry a deadly toxin, etc.)
Under the New Covenant, ratified by the blood of Jesus, we see a shift from a list of do's and don'ts to a mindset of, shall we say, eating by faith.

4 But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: 5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. 6 When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.'  8 But I said, 'Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.' 9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, 'What God has cleansed you must not call common.'  
Acts 11:4-10 NKJV
I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

Rom 14:14 NKJV

There are all manner of debates about following the dietary guidelines of the Old Testament. If that's where your faith is, go for it. If not, follow Paul's example and eat by faith.

3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
1 Tim 4:2-5(from New International Version)

According to Paul's letter to Timothy, we can consecrate (set apart for our use) the food we eat through the word of God and prayer. I believe this is the historical inception behind our Christian tradition of  "saying the blessing" or "saying grace" before we eat.

photo by North60via PhotoRee

25 "So you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you.
Ex 23:25-26 NKJV

That's a pretty amazing promise, one that is "yes, and amen," to us in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 1:19-20).

Back in the early '90s, during those first E. coli scares, my oldest daughter, still an infant, suffered from repeated bouts with gastroenteritis. It was never determined whether the stomach bug that put her in the hospital for two days was caused by E. coli, but it was a possibility. All I knew was that I was terrified. I turned to the Lord, and He led me to these verses.We began to thank God, and to declare Exodus 23:25  over every meal, and our family's health began to change.

We've had "stuff" since then on occasion, usually when we've gotten lax about exercising our faith for what we eat and drink, but overall, those bouts with the stomach flu decreased dramatically in number and severity since we began to consecrate our food with the word and prayer.

That simple act of "saying grace" might be more powerful than you thought! Put the word in your heart and make it more than a family tradition, more than a Rockwellian ideal, and more than a mere religious exercise. Do it with faith in the Word, faith in God's promises, and expect His results.

 Niki Turner writes romantic fiction, Christian non-fiction, blog posts, articles in the local newspaper, lengthy grocery lists, and Facebook status updates. Her first completed manuscript won second place in the 2009 Touched By Love contest for contemporary category romance. Colorado natives, Niki and her husband of 20+ years have four children  (three at home) and are new grandparents to a baby boy. In 1998 they planted a church in rural northwestern Colorado. Currently, they share their home with three teenage boys, two black Lab mutts, and Niki’s absurdly spoiled Westie, Archie. Niki can be found at In Truer Ink, her personal blog and website, here at Inkwell Inspirations, and at The Pastor’s Wife Speaks.


  1. I just had a "duh" moment. for me, not you.

    May all your sprouts be 'spic and span' and sprightly!

  2. Niki, my girl, I never thought of it like this. Thank you for changing my perspective!

  3. wow, my mom always talks to me about the power of words and speaking out your Faith. even the simple act of thanking God for the food He has provided my family can turn into a blessing. thank you so much for the reminder!

    thanks for the Bible references too. my mom loves to do that as well - I'm still attempting to remember them all *heh*

  4. A few years ago I was told I had super high cholesterol and to switch to a mostly vegetarian diet. Did it help? Nope. Cholesterol went up. Now after trying several disasterous medications, I read another study that says the body makes cholesterol to battle inflammation. What causes inflammation? Too many sugars. What do you eat when you stop eating meats? Too many sugars. Ugh!!! Who to believe? I think I'll just eat normal thank you very much.

  5. Deb, *grin*.
    Such a simple thing, so easy to neglect. Someday I'll share the horrible movie popcorn story as it relates to this.

  6. Lisa,
    YAY! I'm so glad it blessed you! As Deb said... may your sprouts be sprightly! : )

  7. DebH,
    You are most welcome! Your mom is right, those words we speak are critical to our quality of life in so many ways.
    As for the scriptures, get 'em in your heart and in your mouth, knowing the "addresses" will come eventually! And if anyone asks, you can always say, "It is written."

    Blessings to you and yours!

  8. Dina, that's really interesting. Inflammation, huh? Like your body is trying to ease the friction by making more "grease." Could that inflammation be physical AND/OR mental and emotional?

    I agree with you about just eating normal, healthy food. The Holy Spirit is capable of leading us to the foods we need (and don't need) if we'll just listen and follow.

  9. The horrible movie popcorn story? I wanna hear it now!

    I agree with Deb. I just had a "duh" moment, too.

    Thanks, Niki. As someone who has been hospitalized for food poisoning twice (I never care to repeat it!) I appreciate this post.

  10. no no NO!!! no movie popcorn stories. I am still savoring the memory from my Sat. night.

    as far as sprouts. I'll pass. I like fancy ones but those alfalfa sprouts are too much like a hairball for my tastes...

  11. Suzie, food poisoning is THE worst. Since Deb says no popcorn tales... let's just say, when you're sitting in the theater, getting ready to dig in to that box of popcorn and the Holy Spirit's still small voice interrupts the previews with a warning to grab your friend and pray over what you're eating, don't ignore Him! He knows something you don't know!

    I like alfalfa sprouts, but only if they are super fresh. The ones at the store are nasty. And bean sprouts are only good in stir-fry, IMHO. Did you know I made bean sprouts by accident in my washing machine once? : )

  12. Niki, this puts a fabulous new perspective on praying over our food. Moocho thanks!!!

    Some wise elder once said to me "You can tell how intense a man's prayer life is by the amount of time he spends in a public prayer for the meal. The longer he prays, the more 'catch-up' he's trying to do."


    Great post!

  13. Dina, I'm a vegetarian . . . just not legalistic about it.

  14. You are most welcome, Gina!
    Ha ha, the elder's comment reminds me of Jesus talking about the hypocrites who pray standing on the street corners to be heard!

    I think I've got it down to a quick two-sentence statement, but I have to keep myself aware that it doesn't become a superstitious repetition, too!

    I didn't know you were a vegetarian. My folks have gone that way, too. My meat-eater boys have had to learn to like soy dogs and veggie burgers when then visit!

  15. I like the idea of vegetarian eating, but realistically it doesn't agree with my body. I get weak and tired no matter how much soy protein I try to eat. And my skin color gets weird.

  16. Last night when the news flashed the sprouts article, a wide-eyed JJ reminded me that I'd written the healthy sprouting post back in Feb. His expression conveyed 'Oh, what have you done!'

    As a family, we say grace before most meals. We do the same in the restaurant. If we happen to be with people in a restaurant, we ask them if we can say it, then we designate whichever one of us is closest to the middle to have the honour. We also pray that no one gets sick from the meal. We've had responses ranging from laughter, shock and pats on the back for our good thinking. It just makes sense to us and we've never gotten sick from a meal we've prayed over.

    There have also been instances when the health of our food was questionable whether it was left out too long on a potluck table or left to thaw and forgotten for too long. Of course, each case is different, but we've never been sick in those cases, either and now we hear the kids pray the same while they're washing something they've dropped on the floor.

    Excellent post, Niki.

    Anita Mae.

  17. Thanks, Anita! I thought of you when Deb started talking about alfalfa sprouts!

    On occasion, when we've forgotten to pray before we start eating, we've been known to pray this: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me." : )

  18. Dina, that same thing happened with my husband's cousin. She decided to go vegetarian, and just felt terrible until she started eating meat again.
    I'm like that with carbs, seriously. That low-carb diet trend was not mine!

  19. Excellent post, Niki. I love that you pray that verse, and I'm going to start doing that, too.

    I thought of Anita's sprout post right away, too. I am so glad she taught me how to grow them at home in a jar. Anita was right about the radish sprouts, too--they're delicious.

    I saw on the news this morning that maybe it's not the sprouts that were contaminated, after all. I hope they figure it out once and for all soon.

    Thanks, Niki.

  20. Susie,
    It's amazing to me that they CAN track these things. Wow.

    I'm going to have to refer to Anita's sprout post again, because I have a whole bunch of seeds leftover from my garden and I don't want to waste 'em.

    Broccoli sprouts are my favorite!

  21. Okay, Niki, point taken about the popcorn. Now I really need to know how you made sprouts in the washer. ;-)

    I love the "bless all that is within me" prayer. Very cute and appropriate.

  22. Suzie, my boys had been sneaking into the pantry and stealing dried beans to use in their homemade pea-shooters. However, they left quite a few beans in their jeans which fell out in the washer, unnoticed. The dark, damp environment created the perfect medium for sprouting beans. Imagine my surprise when I opened the washer a few days later!!!

  23. Too cute, Niki. Did you serve the sprouts on the salad that night? ;-)


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