It's bitterly cold, it's windy, and the flu is widespread right now. If that's not enough, and with no intention of being fear mongering, mind you, some bordering states have some people becoming ill due to a dangerous strain of e. coli bacteria.

13 U.S. states, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington have reported people sick. The culprit? Most likely, romaine lettuce, this according to consumerreports.org

Even though we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is almost always consumed raw.

The e. coli outbreak, which started in Canada, is a strain that can cause serious illness and kidney failure. The FDA recommends avoiding romaine lettuce altogether for the time being, as simply washing the leafy vegetable is not good enough.

It is very difficult to remove bacteria from leafy greens. Bacteria have the ability to adhere to the surface of the leaves, and to get stuck in microscopic crevices. E. coli bacteria can even find their way into the interior of your produce.

Salad fans, remember, romaine lettuce, nutritionally speaking, is just a bit better for you than iceberg lettuce, right? It's mostly water, isn't it? I prefer mixed greens or baby spinach! We need more chlorophyll in our lives. Happy New Year!