It's just makes sense -where your food is kept, prepared and cooked needs to be germ-free. Being a bit compulsive about having a squeaky clean kitchen can improve your health and performance.

They're the most abused and ignored tool in kitchen preparation and where most bacteria grows quite easily and successfully. We even feed them unknowingly on a regular basis. A 'seasoned' wood cutting board is by definition germ-ridden. Use and clean them right. Read on.

Don't trust the translucent white polyvinyl, space-age polymer cutting boards. They don't clean thoroughly and bits of the material eventually dislodge and get into your food and your stomach.

"Epicurean", however makes a very good synthetic cutting board. Used by the pros worldwide; it's even dishwasher-able. I'm impressed.

Permanently built-in, or in-laid cutting boards scare the heck outta me. How can they possibly be thoroughly cleaned and sanitizes? And what were they thinking when contractors use soft, loose-fiber, untreated plywood for those oh-so-convenient pull-out deals with just the end painted? That's food pollution just begging to happen.

Good hard natural wood is NOT a problem if you're smart and consistent in cleaning 'em. Maple cutting boards are the only way to go. To completely allay your fears of bacteria absorbing into the wood, just do as I do and as I say:

After using a maple cutting board, NOT when you're darn good and ready, NOT when everything else in the pot and long BEFORE all those yummy flavors have a chance to seep into the wood fibres, IMMEDIATELY SCRUB your cool maple cutting board with dish detergent or baking soda, HOT water and a scrub brush or sponge; the handle or grab hole, too.

The hot water opens the micro-grooves in the wood grain and cut marks. RINSE with HOT water, then with COLD water to seal it back up again. Then TOWEL DRY. Don't let it air dry, that'd defeat the whole purpose here.

NOW go back to the stove or bowl and go for it knowing your board is happy and healthy, ready for you to grab at any time.

Simple, huh? And then there's absolutely no concern for which side is for savory cutting, which is for sweet.

Cleaning and drying your maple cutting board immediately will prevent any cross-flavoring: you know, that lovely hint of garlic in a sliced apple, just a hint radish in the from-scratch vanilla pudding.

NEVER let any food sit on the board; transfer it to a dish or bowl to set while you wash, rinse and dry the board.

I strongly advocate using safe, biodegradable, natural, tres chic, smart, GLOBAL-COOLING cleaners.

White distilled vinegar
, cuts grease, does windows, sweetens garbage disposers, smells so much better than bleach or less responsible abrasives.

Run a 1/3 cup with water through your coffee maker, then a water-only cycle. Basic vinegar cleans almost anything AND it's cheap, easy to find. It smells a whole lot better than bleach or the other eco-ignorant cleaners.

Baking soda, natural abrasive, good for glass and pans, general. Always rinse after.

Use soda OR vinegar separately, not together (unless you're going for a dramatic volcanic visual effect ;-)

Borax (sprinkle on carpet stains, just let it sit and absorb, then vacuum!). Ants don't like it (mix with some cornmeal and they'll loose the pheromone trail AND engorge to the point of no return). Add it to every load of laundry to boost cleaning power the eco-friendly way.

Look for oxalic acid abrasives (like Barkeeper's Friend) for really stubborn kitchen spills and spots. It works when baking soda doesn't.

'Simple Green', 'OxyClean', 'Orange Glo' and others are great liquid, spray-ons. Get 'em, use 'em.

I don't trust the hype that chlorine bleach is safe for the environment. It does work for disinfecting, but the odor alone is warning enough for me. It works TOO well.


Microwave natural or plastic sponges and pots scrubbers for 30-60 seconds on high (not the plastic, wood or metal ones). Sanitizes them perfectly, quickly.


Leave the cooking space as neat, clean and uncluttered as possible. Close drawers, doors and lids. You don't want to inhibit the flow of Qi ('chee' - good energy). Fewer obstacles in its path will in turn wind up in your muscle fuel and then your frame.

TLC ...
Mom put
Tender Loving Care into her famous mac-n-cheese and might not have realized it. We do now. One's intentions and mood transmit right into the food one prepares.

SLICE & DICE: Prepping food can be meditative, relaxing,

focusing away from the woe-some world. The element of wielding dangerous, sharp knives around your fingers forces care and concentration.

In the process, we're making order out of chaos: desparate elements morph into a great energy-giving and tasty dish.

It's beyond mere alchemy in the kitchen and it's sensible.

Resources: Dr. Andrew Weill, "Eating Well for Optimum Health"; Dr. Penelope Nestel and Dr. Ritu Nalubola: "Food Preparation Practices Can Affect Provitamin A Carotenoid Content and Bioavailability";

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