Even if you’re buying organic fruits and veggies, you really should be washing your produce. Thoroughly. There’s a lot of pesticide residue on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.
Several studies have found that rinsing produce in tap water can wash away a large percentage of any pesticide residues on produce. It’s also important to wash organic produce in order to remove soil and bacteria, as well as the approved chemicals that inhibit fungus and other such pests. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these rinsing tips:
- Wash all countertops, cutting boards, and utensils (peelers, knives, spoons, etc.) that will touch your produce with soap and hot water. Then rinse thoroughly.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after you handle fresh fruits and veggies.
- Rinse fresh produce under clean running water for at least 30 seconds. Rub the produce with your hands to get rid of dirt and any microorganisms on the surface. You should rinse ALL your produce, even melons, squash, and anything else with a rind or peel — even if you’re not going to eat the outside. When you cut through the rind, any dirt or residue on the outer skin can stick to the knife and contaminate the inner flesh of the produce.
- A vinegar-water wash can help get rid of bacteria and viruses on produce. Don’t use detergents or bleach as a produce wash because fruits and veggies are porous and can absorb these products.
- Anything with a firm skin or rind such as carrots, potatoes, melons, and squash can be scrubbed with a vegetable brush.
- Tear off the outer leaves of leafy veggies such as lettuce and cabbage before you wash them. This removes the leaves that have been the most heavily exposed to any pesticides.
It’s best to wash your produce just before you prepare it. Washing it and then storing it can make it spoil faster.
For more information on organic produce, the Dirty Dozen®, and Clean Fifteen®, visit ewg.org.