The right way to wash fruits and vegetables
We all know that fruits and vegetables are an important part of our diets and that we should eat them every day.
However, it is not difficult to skip washing them and make sure that all pesticides and harmful bacteria are completely gone. Especially with a busy schedule, deep cleaning your products may seem like the last thing you want to do.
Pesticides are chemicals used on farms to kill and control agricultural pests that pose a threat to crops and livestock. More than a billion tons of pesticides are used in the United States each year. In fact, in the U.S., the pesticide business is a $12.5 billion industry.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects pesticide residue levels on homegrown fruits and vegetables, they expect a very small percentage (about 1%) of imported produce. Unfortunately, the low inspection rates of produce coming into the U.S. from other countries have little incentive to comply with FDA pesticide residue levels.
9 tips for washing your fruits and vegetables properly
Because the soil or water where fruits and vegetables are grown can contain harmful bacteria, it is important to wash produce the right way. Contamination can also occur after it is harvested, when it is stored or prepared. Consumption of contaminated products can lead to food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses. While we all know to wash the product to the best of our ability, the most important things to remember are listed at the top, as it is not always practical to have numerous steps to follow.
Check out these important guidelines for effectively washing your product to remove harmful bacteria:
Wash your hands. For about 20 to 30 seconds (about the length it takes to sing Happy Birthday) with soap and warm water, wash your hands before and after touching any product.
Clean all fruits and vegetables thoroughlywith cold water before eating, preparing or cutting them. Never use soap, detergent or even products that are advertised to clean fruits or vegetables. Stick to using only water.
For fruits like apples, pears, and peaches, which are often peeled before eating or using in recipes, be sure to rinse them first anyway. This will help prevent bacteria from getting on the knife you use to cut them.
Dry the product after washing. Use a dry paper towel or cloth to remove any bacteria or stubborn dirt.
If you have enough time, you can go further with these steps:
1.-Invest in a product brush. You can use it on harder produce, such as cucumbers, to scrub their surface and remove microbes (tiny molecules such as bacteria and parasites). Make sure the brush is clean.
2.- Make sure to wash your countertops and utensils. After washing and/or peeling produce, and before cutting and chopping, clean the area where you are working, in order to prevent the possible spread of bacteria from the raw product.
3.-Rock your most fragile product. Foods such as raspberries have a tendency to fall apart if placed under running water, so it is important to spray them with water to clean them.
4.-Soak certain products in water for a couple of minutes. Some foods like broccoli and cauliflower have areas that are harder to reach and clean at the same time. Soak them in cold, clean water.
5.-Fill a spray bottle with water when you have to leave the house, this to clean your apples or other fruits at work or while traveling.
Are there any exceptions to these rules?
Some may think that organic fruits and vegetables purchased at local farmers’ markets do not need to be washed. The organic food label does not translate to “contaminant free”. While organic produce is grown 95% free of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers, contamination can still occur, especially in fruits and vegetables without a hard outer shell. And if you think about it, organically grown produce has to leave the farm to get to the store or market, and chances are some hands will touch it before it makes it into your shopping bag. Washing them at home thoroughly will help ensure bacteria and pesticide free products.
However, when produce such as bagged spinach, kale, or lettuce says “prewashed” on the label, it is safe to eat or cook it without rewashing if you are comfortable with it.
Try incorporating these cleansing guidelines into your daily regimen, and you’ll continue to receive all the nutritional benefits that fruits and vegetables have to offer, without any lurking, harmful bacteria.