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Food and Drink

Seeds for spring cleaning



It may be rooted in Persian traditions: before Iranians celebrate New Year (Narouz) at spring equinox, everything in the house is cleaned. Or it may be tied to the ritual of ridding Jewish homes of any bits of unleavened bread before Passover, which eventually gave rise to a thorough house-cleaning.

Whatever culture it’s rooted in, it likely hit its halcyon in Victorian times, when cleanliness was next to godliness, or at least proof of moral rectitude, and women measured their worth by how their laundry looked on a clothesline, with bloomers discreetly hung to dry in a pillowcase.

But I think the ritual of spring cleaning, at least here on the wet coast, came from the fact that around this time of year, sooner or later the clouds part enough to allow a wedge of sunlight into your house. At which point you’re doomed.

Yikes! Where did it all come from, the gossamer dust layers coating shelves and TV screens, the cobwebs criss-crossing ceiling corners, the dog hairs rolled into rivulets along the baseboards?

And therein lies the joy of socked-in weather. You barely have to houseclean, unless you have halogen lighting.

I doubt if anyone spring cleans much anymore, but some people like the idea of cleaning their bodies in the spring — after all, it’s the time of renewal. Personally, I’m too lazy and too leery to go full hog on a body cleanse or anything quite so radical, but I do notice that I start to salivate when bundles of tender young asparagus tips show up on my grocer’s shelves.

No doubt, it’s all part of the yin and yang of things, changing our eating habits as the days lengthen and more fresh food becomes available. Fresh local produce is still weeks away, but to get you through in the meantime, here are two “seedy” ideas to spring clean the old bod on one level or another.



A lot of people swear by sprouts — alfalfa, broccoli, bean or otherwise — rather than lettuce or something like endive for their sandwich and salad greens.

With the prices of such leafy beauties through the roof these days, sprouts make a great alternative, especially since sprouts contain a lot of nutritional proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Bonus: Studies at John Hopkins University concluded that raw broccoli sprouts may be rich in a substance which reduces the risk of cancer.

Even though the sprout industry has grown to something like a US$25-million market share in the U.S., the product is not without risk. Several out-breaks of food-borne illnesses, including E. coli and salmonella, have been associated with sprouts over the years, which could result in a kind of cleanse you will not have counted on.