Is it safe to eat these veggies now?

By Alex P. Vidal

“I rely on a lot of green drinks to get my vegetables.” — Tim Tebow

THIS week, I plan to spend some of the little dollars I saved while observing the lockdown guidelines to buy more vegetables.

There are vegetables in a grocery store, one of the only two located a few meters away from where I live, that is open since the lockdown began in March, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I hesitated to buy some when I had the rare opportunity to shop for my food supply two weeks ago.

Some of these vegetables were: garden asparagus, cabbage, carrot, celery, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, onion, radish, sprouting broccoli, tomato, potato, okra (my favorite), watercress (I mix in the noodles), taro, mung bean sprout, celtuce, and eggplant.

The veggies displayed in that grocery store looked fresh but customers had access to touch them even if they wouldn’t buy these veggies.

There were fears that coronavirus could also contaminate the products being sold in the grocery stores like canned goods, fruits, bread, sugar, cooking oil, noodles, and all packed items.

This explains why only five to seven people are allowed to enter the grocery stores here in New York today in order to properly observe the enhanced social distancing guidelines.




If canned and packed products could be exposed to coronavirus inside the grocery stores, what are the chances that the veggies and fruits won’t be contaminated? Nil.

Along with ascorbic acid and zinc, vegetables should have been the aforementioned vitamins’ perfect partners to strengthen our immune system and ward off the deadly virus that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives all over the world as of April 21.

But a lot of nutrition experts have agreed that fending off a virus is a lot more complicated than simply eating extra fruits and vegetables for the antioxidants or special types of yogurt for its helpful bacteria, or probiotics.

There’s no single food—or even group of foods—that can be counted on to keep us well, according to an article in

Our immune system is believed to be a very complex relationship of various functions within the body.

If the system is deficient, we know that we’re susceptible to infection.

It’s important to eat a variety of foods for our body to function at its best, as outlined in, to give our body all the various vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that it needs.

That said, of all foods unlike the Filipinos, Americans fall short most regularly in their fruit and vegetable consumption, which could have a compromising effect on the immune system.

“In any case, good hygiene is far more important to fend off viruses than eating certain foods. You can’t drink a glass of orange juice in the morning and then decide that you don’t have to wash your hands today,” explained the




It added: “Physicians and registered dietitians agree that the familiar prescription of a well-rounded, healthful diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can provide the central nutrients your body, including your immune system, needs to stay healthy. You need to have a healthy diet in general to have a generally healthy immune system. “Some nutrients are known to play a role in immune system health, including the antioxidants Vitamin E and Vitamin C, the minerals selenium and zinc, Vitamin D, and fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids. But that doesn’t mean that eating more than the recommended amount will necessarily boost your immune system.

“And even eating your recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day won’t guarantee that you won’t be sneezing this winter, but it will give your body’s defenses the nutrition they need to do their job of preventing you from getting sick.”

Food remains just part of the equation. Even without the coronavirus, getting the seasonal flu and flu vaccines, eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, washing our hands frequently, and getting enough sleep each night are all key to keeping our body’s immune defenses at their best.




Fruits and vegetables can be dangerous according to a story published in Mail Online which warned that: “Getting your five a day is responsible for half of all food poisoning cases.”

The story came from a decade-long study of the sources of foodborne illnesses in the US.

It estimates that nearly half of all foodborne illnesses were caused by fruit, nuts and vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables. Meat and poultry accounted for around one in five cases.

The study highlighted the important fact that any foodstuff, if it is improperly prepared or stored, can cause food poisoning.

The germs responsible for these illnesses attributed to leafy vegetables commonly include E. coli and the winter vomiting bug, norovirus (not to be mistaken for coronavirus), said the report.

These highly contagious germs reportedly are often spread “hand-to-mouth” (usually through not washing hands properly after going to the toilet).

These results, however, did not mean that fruits and vegetables were bad for us, only that it is crucial to have high standards of personal and food hygiene.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)