When life gives us lemons, we’re supposed to make lemonade. Or so I’ve heard. I like lemons in their natural state, but there is a limit to how “natural” I want them to be.
This is the season for fresh lemons. The tartness and brightness are refreshing and invigorating. My favorite variety is the Meyer lemon. The soft skin and tempered flavor make for an exceptional piece of fruit. I only wish they were available year round. It was with much excitement that I filled a bag with them at a store selling local produce this past week. When I got them home, I started removing them from the bag to place in a bowl in the refrigerator. As I took out the third or fourth one, something almost escaped my notice, but it was there. I nearly dismissed it, thinking that it was a sticker on the lemon. But these were from a local source and didn’t have stickers, so I took a closer look. My enthusiasm turned to disgust as I saw that it was a bird dropping on the lemon. It was only one lemon, though, so it wasn’t a big loss. I had a dozen others. But with a germophobe, the wheels are always turning. That lemon with the dropping had been in the bag with the others. That meant that it had to touch at least one of the others. The dropping must have touched the others.
In a few seconds I went from having a dozen lemons to possibly having none. I looked in the bag at the space from which the soiled lemon came. There were so many left in there, the bad one couldn’t possibly have contaminated them all. I took out the others that were surrounding that area and placed them on the counter (which would be disinfected later). Then I salvaged a few and set them aside, but even those seemed tainted to me. Although I intended to squeeze them for the juice and drink it mixed with a little water, they were going to need a more rigorous cleaning than usual. My account entitled “A Bowl of Cherries” describes my ritual for cleaning fruit intended to be eaten fresh. In addition to the typical ritual, they were going to need to be wiped down with a disinfecting cloth (wet wipe), and they would have to be washed in the soapy solution several times more than usual. What would happen with the contaminated fruit? I gave some to family members, explaining that they would need to be washed thoroughly. The rest will go into baked goods. End of story? All of you know me better than that!
The wheels were still turning. What if I had touched the dropping with my hand when I picked up the lemon at the store? That didn’t seem likely, because I would have felt it. But it is perfectly possible that I touched parts of other fruit that had been contaminated by the dropping, just as the ones in the bag had. That was the most disturbing point yet. I was grateful that my habit is to use my alcohol spray after touching anything in a store. I’m certain that I did that after bagging up the lemons. But alcohol alone is not sufficient when coming into contact with animal droppings, and I had touched a hundred things since then. I immediately went to wash my hands, but it didn’t help everything else that I had come into contact with. What could I do? Nothing. I had to hope that the contamination didn’t actually take place and that I was being overly cautious.
We take chances with everything we eat or encounter each day. I recently had the opportunity to obtain farm fresh chicken eggs. We are far more likely to find droppings on an egg than a lemon! But not being sure of the cleaning method for the eggs, I would have to wear gloves during the transaction. And what if I did find eggs with droppings on them in the carton? I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth the trouble.
Can you make lemonade from a lemon with a bird dropping on it? I wouldn’t recommend it. What about eggs? Use at your own risk!