I was in a forum on Facebook when someone posted how scary the food industry is and why she will be washing her produce from now on.
Whether you shop at your local grocery stores or farmers market, washing your fruits and veggies is a must. Why? Let’s think about it. First, one in three Americans washes their hands after using the bathroom. Meaning, they use soap and water and wash for 20 seconds to kill the bacteria and viruses. (It is an icky fact, unfortunately) Think about how many folks will touch various produce in the grocery stores, let alone the farmers markets. Plus, if the produce is imported from other countries, think about all the parasites that harbor in the nooks and crannies of such produce as avocados or citrus fruits.
Don’t think organic is any better or safer when it comes to cleanliness. While organic tends to be non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) and have less wax or pesticide residue, it is still a good idea to wash your produce. Many times, organic produce harbors more bacteria due to the way they are farmed.
Research has shown the best way to care for produce is to rinse and scrub it under water. Most bacteria and parasites can be killed in a vinegar solution consisting of three parts vinegar and one part water so it is worth it to soak some items in this solution, such as the fruits and veggies where you tend to eat the skin (apples, pears, grapes celery, potatoes, etc.). You will be surprised to see all the dirt and junk that goes to the bottom of your sink or bowl when soaking your produce, especially grapes. Wait to soak berries until you are ready to eat them or they will spoil faster. And just because you won’t be eating the skins, it is still a good idea to at least rinse and scrub them under running water. Even when you cut the skin, you can still pass bacteria through the skin into the flesh of the produce.
I have found this article to be helpful on the research and facts of cleaning our produce.
When is it worth it to buy organic? I consult the Dirty Dozen List that comes out each year. Yes, it is worth it to buy organic from this list. The 2014 list should be out soon and there is a free app you can download so you have it right at your fingertips when grocery shopping.
What can you do? Keep a produce spray near your kitchen sink and spray produce, rinse and then scrub before eating it. Soak your produce about 10-15 minutes before you are ready to cook it in a vinegar and water solution before cooking it. It seems like an extra task, but when you think about all the yuck that sits on the most important items we need to be consuming, it is much better to be safe than sorry.