Should You Be Washing Your Food? with Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Because of COVID-19, we are all trying to live more cleanly in order to avoid contracting the virus. One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of this is the cleanliness of our food. On this third episode in a series with Earth Friendly Products CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, the discussion is on how to prepare your food to make sure it’s safe to eat.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are here with our friend, Kelly Vlahakis, the president and CEO of Earth Friendly Products. They make the ECOS brand that you can find at Costco and Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, many places. We are just so grateful for you, because if you think of a war, what you're making is the ammunition to be able to win this war against COVID-19.
Tana Amen: You are.
Dr Daniel Amen: But COVID-19, there are going to be other pandemics. You need to-
Tana Amen: This is a wake up call.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... to develop a way to start really thinking about using nontoxic products that work. I know this is an anxious time, but whatever goes on your body, goes in your body and affects your body and your brain. So protecting yourself is just absolutely essential. Kelly, we're just so grateful for who you are and what you do. The question often comes up, well, what about food and should you be washing your food?
Tana Amen: Yeah, I actually read something, older people are not supposed to be eating raw salad, eating raw veggies.
Dr Daniel Amen: Why did you look at me when you said older people?
Tana Amen: No, because it freaks me. I called my mom and said don't eat raw veggies because we don't have an effective ... I can't buy vegetable wash for her right now, and she shouldn't be eating raw veggies right now because people have been touching and sneezing. So talk to us, this is really important.
Kelly Vlahakis: Absolutely, it's super important. There was also a great article on the 10th of March in the LA Times talking about how safe our fruits and vegetables in the supermarkets. It was a great article and the director of Food Policy and Law at UCLA was telling everybody make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables, right? Once again, we make an organic and veggie wash. It's got three ingredients in it. It's got organic white vinegar, it's got organic glycerin, and then it's got an organic soap nut in it. A soap nut I know it can be misleading because of its name, a nut, but it's actually a berry. It's this amazing berry that's found in nature. It's grown in tropical environments. They're produced in Florida, they're produced in Brazil. These berries actually have natural surfactant abilities.
Tana Amen: Wow.
Kelly Vlahakis: So you combine the three and when you put it in ... I'll just show you. You can see what the product looks like, right? This is our organic fruit and veggie wash. You see the USDA organic certification on it.
Kelly Vlahakis: What a fruit and veggie wash does is it does a better job than simply water of lifting the dirt and the impurities. The solvent in the product would be the organic vinegar and would be the organic glycerin, and then the surfactant would be soap nut berry. You have those three and we have all sorts of third-party testing that shows that it removes all sorts of bacteria and viruses from fruits and vegetables.
Kelly Vlahakis: This is really important for fruits and vegetables especially that you're eating the outer peel of. It also removes wax on things like apples. Another thing is during this crisis a lot of people are going to have a hard time finding organic fruits and vegetables. Those of us that are typically devoted to only organic have to buy non-organic. So it's also really important to have a fruit and vegetable wash to remove any of the toxic residues from pesticides that are on fruits and vegetables.
Kelly Vlahakis: We saw an increase in people purchasing fruit and vegetable wash maybe 15 years ago when they had all sorts of issues with salmonella and listeria and other things. About 3,000 people die annually from all sorts of bacterias and things that can be found on fruits and vegetables, so it is really important and it's simple. What you would want to do, if you have a fruit that's like an apple or something like that, you just spray it on and you rinse it off. If you have a fruit that's got a lot more surfaces, something like cauliflower or broccoli, in that case you would soap it. We would put it in our soaking solution, I mean.
Kelly Vlahakis: I think Dr. Amen has been here and had our food that's prepared by our wonderful plant-forward chef, Brandon Hall. If you go downstairs into our corporate kitchens, you'll see him all day long. We grow a lot of the vegetables in our vertical gardens here for all of our team members. He'll harvest the vegetables from our vertical gardens and then he'll soak them. It's super easy, you just put one tablespoon into eight cups. One tablespoon of the fruit and veggie wash into eight cups of water. You could use cold water, which is what we do here, and then you'd soak it for about 10 minutes. If you use warm water, you only need to soak it for about five minutes because the warmth activates it. Then you take it out and just pat it dry either with a kitchen towel or hopefully a tree-free paper product.
Tana Amen: So you don't need to rinse it after that. Is it the same-
Kelly Vlahakis: Oh, and then you take it out, I'm sorry. I usually will put it like in a colander or something.
Tana Amen: Got it.
Kelly Vlahakis: Rinse it and pat it dry.
Tana Amen: Is it the same product?
Kelly Vlahakis: Yes. It's the same product, both the soak solution and the spray solution. One you just pour with a cap on it and then the other has the trigger sprayer.
Tana Amen: But they're the same.
Kelly Vlahakis: Same product, same ingredients.
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:06:27] find it because it can be hard to find.
Tana Amen: Yeah, right now it's ...
Dr Daniel Amen: I have a note. For those who want something stronger than plain water mix in lemon or distilled white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Lemon should be used on berries, but not the vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. The porous skin of berries can too easily absorb the vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Salt can also be added to a white vinegar mix.
Kelly Vlahakis: [crosstalk 00:07:01].
Dr Daniel Amen: Kelly, because at this time it may be hard for people to find it, what can-
Kelly Vlahakis: Absolutely.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... people do? Washing it with soap.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yep.
Dr Daniel Amen: A healthy soap.
Tana Amen: A non-toxic soap.
Dr Daniel Amen: A non-toxic soap.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yes, absolutely. What you're saying, that the add more white vinegar. I mean, we're using organic white vinegar as the main solvent in our product too. That organic white vinegar is extremely effective as well in making sure to lift up all these impurities. Just going back to the same thing, like with hand-washing, you want something that extracts the dirt, the impurities, and then you want something to rinse it off, which is why that rinse phase is an important one because you're just washing it away.
Dr Daniel Amen: Now, I know a lot of people are worried about Amazon and the boxes. Amazon workers, some of them have COVID-19, they deliver boxes. I hadn't really thought about it. I'm opening up all these boxes.
Tana Amen: He can't hear me. I told him not to open them right away. He can't hear me and I'm like, "You can't bring them in the house anymore."
Kelly Vlahakis: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: No, we actually have like-
Tana Amen: So he was opening them, I wasn't.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... a quarantine place in the garage.
Kelly Vlahakis: I do too.
Dr Daniel Amen: We'll quarantine them for 24 hours.
Tana Amen: I was pushing for 72.
Dr Daniel Amen: But what do people do about-
Kelly Vlahakis: I'm doing 72 as well.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... boxes, packages.
Tana Amen: I wear gloves.
Dr Daniel Amen: What advice would you give our brain warriors?
Kelly Vlahakis: Absolutely. I'm doing the same thing you are doing there, you guys are doing. The packages are coming in. We're unboxing things outside of our home. We're using gloves for the unboxing experience.
Tana Amen: Gloves.
Kelly Vlahakis: We open up our boxes, we leave the boxes outside by our recycling bin, and then we're bringing the contents into our home. But we're not just bringing the boxes directly in, simply because of the fact that people that are delivering it, it's being touched, there's many different touch points. We're trying to as well be very cognizant of any incoming raw materials in our facilities or incoming boxes into our homes.
Tana Amen: Right. I'm keeping one dedicated opener outside with the boxes, have gloves out there and I have sanitizer. As soon as I take the gloves off, I sanitize my hands, bring in the products, wash my hands. It's a process, but it needs to happen.
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:09:19].
Kelly Vlahakis: Yes, it is a process because these are the small touch points people need to really be cognizant of.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: As a psychiatrist, my OCD patients, just their anxiety has skyrocketed.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yeah.
Tana Amen: But they're all sitting there going, "I told you so."
Dr Daniel Amen: Sort of like you.
Tana Amen: So of like me with my end-of-the-world prepping.
Dr Daniel Amen: My wife prepper.
Kelly Vlahakis: You're like, "This pays off."
Dr Daniel Amen: I'm never going to lose an argument again.
Tana Amen: No, you're never going to win.
Dr Daniel Amen: Never going to win an argument again.
Tana Amen: Right.
Kelly Vlahakis: Then the last kind of vegetable I just point out are mushrooms too, because I know a lot of people often ask me how do you wash mushrooms because they're so porous and they absorb everything.
Tana Amen: Right [crosstalk 00:09:54].
Kelly Vlahakis: For mushrooms, that vegetable, I actually would utilize a cloth, like a kitchen cloth or utilizing our tree-free paper. I would actually wet that in the same solution and I would actually wipe that off, because unfortunately with mushrooms they'll absorb all the water and everything else and it'll compromise obviously the taste and what you're consuming. So in that case, that's the one thing that I actually just wipe off.
Tana Amen: Hmm. Interesting.
Dr Daniel Amen: That's great. When we come back, we're going to talk about how important are cleaning personal products and cleaning products. We just want you to be a brain warrior, which means you're armed, you're prepared, you're aware, to win the fight of your life. Now, we're in the middle of a war, like a real war, with this pandemic. Stay with us.
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