What to Do If You Drop Food on the Floor
What to Do if You Drop Food On the Floor
As children we had this figured out; dropping food on the floor was never a problem because we ate it anyway. My cousin tells me that in his part of the city, all children lived by the five second rule - 'if you can pick it up within five seconds you can eat it.' In my part of the city we could drop but still eat, anything, as long as we 'wiped it off and kissed it up to God.' I suspect children all over the world have similar solutions.
As adults, though, we have to behave differently. If we see a child snatching up a dropped cookie or picking it up, kissing it and raising it skyward we think 'oh remember that - how cute!' However, if we see an adult doing the same thing we may instantly think 'wow - a degenerate!'
Therefore, with a budget conscious populace out there, I have compiled a useful list of what to do when you drop certain foods on the floor. Note: This only applies to your kitchen floor and not a subway station or public toilet.
If you drop:
- a banana - I never drop a banana on the floor but I have dropped it in the sink. What happens is the banana is on the counter, I pick it up and as I am peeling it the top half falls into the sink - plop. While a sink may still have residue from chicken (salmonella), beef (e.coli) and fish (mercury), because the faucet is there we tend to think 'clean.' - Go ahead and rinse it off - just know that it will become a bit slimey. If you drop it on the floor and it doesn't roll you can examine it for filth then slice off the part that's not too bad. If it rolls you may want to forget it.
- a scoop of ice cream - This is the only thing that I drop on the floor. I buy ice cream by the pint to avoid eating a gallon at a time. Therefore, I cannot use a scoop, I use a tablespoon. No matter how long I let the ice cream sit and thaw - it's still a struggle to dig out enough to make the effort worthwhile. Invariably, one tablespoon full will go flying. I can never catch it. Throw this little bit down the drain. However, if you eat ice cream by the tub, you use a big scoop, and then drop some, you can salvage quite a bit. The rounded top portion is still clean. If your cat or dog is lapping it up you may not want it - but that's a personal decision. At that time it depends on your ice cream state of mind and how much is left in the tub. If you are stressed out and that was your last scoop, then it's okay to fight off the cat and dog and salvage what you can.
- various meats - if you're lucky enough to find meat that hasn't been contaminated and possibly scheduled to be recalled due to e.coli* you can pick it up, rinse it and cook it - you probably won't be doing any more harm that what has already been done to the meat - even if you step on it with outdoor shoes.
- chicken - I don't know about you, but I find a chicken leg hilarious. Maybe it's the shape - and dropping it makes it even funnier. Imagining it down there on the floor, I'd have a hard time advising you to pick it up and cook it - but actually you can. Since you have to be aware of salmonella** and have to thoroughly wash chicken anyway - go ahead and pick it up - the floor is probably cleaner than the counter which, as you are reading this, is still multiplying with salmonella and e.coli. I find it odd that chicken thighs are not funny, nor are wings and the breast.
- fish - this is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acid, and mercury. But there is something honorable about fish and therefore it should not be disrespected. If you drop your mercury, I think you should honor it by throwing it away.
- eggs - quickly pick up this excellent source of protein and rinse it off in cool water. When I peel an egg I always rinse it anyway for some reason. It gets a little tricky, though, because of the oval shape which may allow it to roll in that funny way. If you have to chase it across the floor you should probably toss it.
- fruit and vegetables - if you drop any of these GM*** items you can really leave them on the floor and go take a bath, stroll around the lake, even forget about them for a few days. They are designed to last. Come back at your leisure and rinse them off. Even the filthiest floor cannot do much harm to this stuff. However, if your veggies and fruit are organic, or locally grown by your friendly struggling farmer then by all means scoop them up right away, rinse them and eat them and enjoy them and share them with friends and family. Good, nutritious, fresh food is meant to be shared and never wasted.
- popcorn - I never drop popcorn but some always lands on the floor (see photo below). What happens is - I make it in a pot on the stove and as I am transferring it to a bowl there are always a few kernels that will suddenly pop and shoot off to some unknown place. Forget about them; they are never worth the effort to look for. They'll show up eventually. Even years later when you find them they will look the same. One of the largest GM crops here in the US is corn.
- cookies and candy - you are no longer a child so throw this away if you drop it. This is considered snack food which is another name for junk. If nothing else, by throwing away what you drop you will eat a little bit less.
- chocolate - if it is milk chocolate, toss it. However, if it is dark chocolate like 60%-90% it is worth salvaging for the nutritional value. Dark chocolate has antioxidants and has been proven to be good for cardiovascular health. You will also notice that milk chocolate will quickly pick up cat hair and vermin - probably due to the intentionally creamy consistency. Dark chocolate is denser. Don't wash it though. If something weird is on it - think of it like hard cheese and just scrape it off.
- the ubiquitous sandwich - I'm pretty fed up with the whole idea of the home made sandwich. Sliced store bought bread just has no flavor. Granted, lately many brands have been removing the HFCS**** but still the near invisible list of a bunch of unbreadlike ingredients doesn't make it any tastier. Then you add GM lettuce, perhaps a protein that will be recalled or should be, or something with mercury, or salmonella, and oh yeah should you cut it straight down the middle, or diagonally, or lah de dah, how about removing the crust - like that's going to make the whole pile any better. No, the whole idea sickens me so if you drop a sandwich - good! Toss it. We all deserve better.
Does the kitchen flooring matter?
You bet it does. If you have:
- carpet (for some unknown reason) - just know that everything that has ever flown in your window, or every time blood was spilled, a drunk didn't make it to the sink, or you didn't make it to the toilet in time, etc. everything, and I do mean everything, is all still in that carpet. Everything you drop on kitchen carpet should be thrown out, even if it's a blouse or socks (throw out the carpet too). This is a good time to have a glass of wine or cup of green tea and try to figure out why you have carpet in the kitchen.
- linoleum - the absolute best floor covering for dropping food! Linoleum covered the floors in our parent's/grandparent's homes. It is now being sold as eco-friendly because it is made from linseed oil, mineral pigments, cork and other natural ingredients. Most importantly, it has natural bactericidal properties - probably making it cleaner than your sink, your counter, and your hands. You can pick up anything you drop on this eco-friendly floor and feel proud while you are retrieving it.
- vinyl - after covering practically every kitchen floor in America with this product we now find that it is a major source of indoor pollution. Vinyl flooring is known for outgassing and thus releasing VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). So if you pick up what you drop, think of it as being seasoned with a bit of VOC. I'd toss it.
- stone, ceramic, marble, other hard surfaces - I have a ceramic floor in my kitchen. You can safely pick up anything from a hard surface. However, if your hard floor is cracked like mine, no doubt some filth is deeply ingrained in the crack. Whatever you drop will most likely fall directly on the crack - then you should toss it. If it doesn't fall on that suspicious crack then you can rinse it off.
What if you are cooking for a guest(s) and drop food?
Always, always, throw out food you dropped if it is for a guest - especially if you just looked over your shoulder to see if you were being observed. But just know that even if the guest is on the other side of a wall, meat slapping down on a floor sounds like dynamite to the ears of a nervous guest. Don't pretend to throw it in a garbage bag while slipping it into the junk drawer - your guest will suddenly develop x-ray vision to go along with the new acute sense of hearing. Scoop up the droppings, drop it all in a garbage bag, even remove it from the premises, come back and wash your hands - but not at the kitchen sink. All dropped food that you are preparing for someone else should immediately be thrown out, especially if you ever, in your lifetime, plan to eat at that person's house.
What if you are cooking for your family and drop food?
Family is different. If your family is greedy you can probably drop all the food you want and they won't even flinch. If they are a lazy bunch they probably won't risk commenting lest you screech out that they can do it themselves. But you probably should always rinse it off.
On the daily menu: (See the cdc.gov for further information about the following found in our food supply and the resulting dangers and recalls).
*Salmonella - any of various rod-shaped bacteria of the genus, Salmonella, many of which are pathogenic and can cause food poisoning, typhoid, paratyphoid fever.
**e.coli - is Escherichia coli - a large and diverse group of bacteria. It has caused illness and major disease outbreaks in the US.
***Genetically Modified - combining genes from different organisms is known as recombinant DNA technology. The resulting organisms are said to be 'genetically engineered,' 'genetically modified,' or 'transgenic.' These products include food, food ingredients, feeds, medicine, and vaccines.
****High Fructose Corn Syrup - any group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing. A common sugar substitute found in nearly all processed foods.
Enjoy your meal!