Washing fruits and vegetables is a fun process that ensures your health and well-being. Unlike the cavemen days, the risk of produce contamination is more than 80 percent. Thankfully, washing fruits and vegetables only takes a few minutes out of your day and gives you a feeling of relief, knowing that your produce is clean and healthy.
Why Should We Wash Our Fruits and Vegetables?
It’s easy to become enthralled with the idea of eating delicious, ripe fruit, but oftentimes the notion of cleaning it escapes us. At some point in time, everyone is guilty of the crime…OK, it’s not a real crime. But washing fruits and vegetables is very important and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
So why is it important to wash fruits and vegetables? Rest assured, it’s not to make you spend more time in the kitchen. This necessary task eliminates the odds of contracting a food-borne illness, washes away surface pesticides and cleans off any dirt.
One in six Americans is diagnosed with food poisoning after consuming contaminated produce. Typical sources of contamination include Salmonella, Listeria and the norovirus. Symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, severe stomach pains and dehydration. It’s important to see a health-care provider if any of these symptoms occur.
Pesticides are a big no-no on your fruits and vegetables. Eating dirty produce with pesticides on its surface is the same as voluntarily eating harmful chemicals. There are at least 29 different pesticides found in the average American body. Pesticides have been linked to Parkinson’s disease, myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and prostate or stomach cancer. Some fruits and vegetables have a higher percentage of pesticides than others.
Take a look at the lists below:
Fruits and Vegetables at a Low Risk for Pesticide Contamination
• Sweet corn
• Sweet peas
• Sweet potato
Fruits and Vegetables at a High Risk of Pesticide Contamination
• Cherry tomatoes
• Snap peas
• Sweet bell peppers
• Collard greens
• Hot peppers
According to the Centers for Disease Control, "When properly cleaned, separated, cooked, and stored to limit contamination, fruits and vegetables safely provide some essential nutrients that would otherwise be lacking in most American diets." Here’s how you can obtain the best nutritional value out of your fruits and vegetables.
Food Safety Tips: How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables
For a natural diet and healthy lifestyle, follow these steps carefully to wash all of your fruits and vegetables:
• Step 1: Keep the kitchen area clean. This includes countertops, cutting boards, utensils and the sink.
• Step 2: Wait to wash produce until right before use.
• Step 3: Rinse produce with cold or lukewarm water. Do not use hot water.
• Step 4: Under cold or lukewarm water, massage with hands to remove dirt particles or bruised areas on produce.
• Step 5: Using a basin, carefully produce a mixture of 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of organic liquid soap or castile soap. Submerge your fruits and vegetables into the mixture and wait at least 30 seconds. Note: Using another type of soap, such as antibacterial soap, may be absorbed by the pores of the produce and result in contamination. Using a gentle and natural cleanser will clean the produce without causing harm.
• Step 6: Remove your product from the basin and rinse off with clean water.
• Step 7: Dry wet surface or excess water, then dig in!
Learning how to safely wash fruits and vegetables is crucial for a sound and nourished diet. Remember, always aim to purchase locally grown organic produce to eliminate further risk of contamination and pesticides. Washing fruits and vegetables allows us to enjoy what Mother Earth has provided while maintaining a healthy, prosperous lifestyle.
Audrey Lefebvre R.N. specializes in Integrative Medicine, incorporating traditional and holistic care. Audrey has more than five years of experience in direct patient care and four years in natural skin-care regimens. You can learn more about Audrey Lefebvre by visiting the Castile Soap website or her blog.