We all know that fruits and veggies are an important part of our diets and that we should eat them every single day. However, it’s not hard to overlook washing them and making sure that all pesticides and harmful bacteria are long gone.1 Especially with a very busy schedule, thoroughly cleaning off your produce can seem like the last thing you want to do.
Pesticides are chemicals used on farms to kill off and control agricultural pests that pose a threat to crops and livestock. More than one billion tons of pesticides are used in America every year. In fact, in the U.S., the pesticide business is a 12.5 billion dollar industry.2
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspects pesticide residue levels on homegrown fruits and vegetables, they expect a very small percent (around 1%) of imported produce. Unfortunately, low inspection rates of produce coming from other countries to the U.S. have few incentives for compliance to the FDA’s pesticide residue levels. 3
Since the soil or water where your fruits and veggies are grown can contain harmful bacteria, it is important to wash your produce the right way. Contamination can also occur after produce is harvested, when it’s being stored or prepared. Consumption of contaminated produce can lead to food poisoning and other food-borne illnesses. While we all know we should wash the produce as best as is possible, the most important things to remember are listed at the top, since it isn’t always practical to have numerous steps to follow.
Take a look at these important guidelines to wash your produce effectively to eliminate harmful bacteria:
If you have enough time, you can go further with these steps:
Some may think organic fruits and veggies bought from 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 percent free of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers, contamination can still happen, especially in fruits and vegetables without a tough outer skin. And if you think about, organically grown produce has to leave the farm to get to the store or market, and chances are a few hands will touch it before it makes it into your grocery bag. Washing them at home thoroughly will help guarantee bacteria- and pesticide- free produce.
However, when produce such as bagged spinach, kale, or lettuce says, “pre-washed” on the label, it is safe to eat or cook it without washing again if you are comfortable with it.
Make clean-produce guidelines part of your daily regime, and you will continue to reap all of the nutritious benefits fruits and vegetables have to offer, sans any lurking, harmful bacteria.