Editor’s Note: The following post originally appeared on Healthy Child Healthy World’s blog. We feel very strongly about this non-profit’s mission: “We are igniting a movement that inspires parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals. Eco Child’s Play is partnering with this organization to share valuable content with our readers.
The FDA says that all fruits and vegetables, including those that are organically grown, could benefit from a thorough washing to remove soil, surface microbes, and pesticide residues. While food safety experts admit there’s little chance of getting really sick, they still recommend that people with compromised immune systems or developing immune systems (fetuses and children) should thoroughly scrub all produce.
Here are some quick tips for prepping your produce.
1. Look for produce that’s not bruised or dented. These blemishes are pathways for pathogens.
2. Wash your produce right when you bring it home. It’s easiest and most efficient to wash everything at the same time. Store produce away from other foods like meat or fish that could contaminate them with microbes.
3. Skip the soap. The US FDA advises skipping soap since fruits and veggies are porous and can absorb soaps or detergents. Most experts agree that a quick water rinse works just fine. If you’re more comfortable going the extra mile, use a non-toxic wash. Or, make your own by filling a spray bottle with 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar for every 2 cups of warm water. (Vinegar washes are not ideal for soft skinned produce like peaches or apricots). Spray, scrub (or rub briskly), and rinse.
4. Use a scrubber for produce with firmer skin, like carrots, potatoes and squash.
5. Wash foods with inedible peels. Even though you don’t eat the rind, it comes in contact with your cutting board and knife, which will touch the fruit that you will eat. And, don’t assume that pre-cut fruit is any safer. Who knows where employees’ hands have been?
6. Consider tossing the outer leaves of leafy greens, such as lettuce and cabbage before washing. And, even if you purchase greens that say “pre-washed” or “triple-washed,” it doesn’t mean it’s free of pathogens. Wash it again for good measure.
7. If you’re on the go, you can wash your produce in a public sink or purchase non-toxic disposable wipes, like those from our Trusted Partner Eat Cleaner, specifically intended for washing produce.