The First Step to Eating for Health: Clean Your Produce Thoroughly!
We love produce, obviously. All sorts of salads and greens, apples, bananas, berries, root vegetables, peppers, avocados…we love them all and include them into our diet in a large variety. With everyone we do, there are two basic rules we follow…
- “purchase everything organic, and if it’s not available organic, then buy local and in season”.
- “always wash all fruit and vegetables before eating”
Have you ever wondered what is the best way to clean your fruits and veggies?
Is it really important to wash all the produce before eating or cooking with it? Could you just just wipe your apple on your shirt before eating? What about giving a few second rinse under running water, it that good enough?
Well, we have asked those questions before and today we want to share with you some interesting facts and insights as well as give you a simple Do-It -Yourself project which will teach you how to make your own natural, non-toxic Fruit & Veg Cleaner. And don’t worry, it’s much easier than you can even imagine.
We understand that produce cleaning methods might not be the most exciting topic but it is important – especially for us plant based eaters who are eating for health. Sure, the nutrients you’re supplying your body by consuming all the beautiful produce are great – but it’s not so great when you might also be ingesting bacteria, and various chemicals and pesticides.
Fruits and Vegetables (even organic ones) need to be washed before eating!
Fresh fruits and veggies are packed with nutrition and flavor, but they need to be cleaned first before consuming. Other than the fact that it might still have the actual dirt on it, your produce is handled by many pairs of hands before it reaches your kitchen and you can’t be sure that they all washed their hands before handling your produce. Fruits and vegetables have been through a lot before arriving to you – they were handled at the farm, during packing, and then handled perhaps dozens of times by store associates and other customers.
Eating foods with traces of pesticides is bad for your health—especially for kids.
Conventional produce is often loaded with pesticides and herbicides. Even organic fruits and veggies can have pesticides on them. Although the full scope of the threat is not yet known, research confirms that pesticide exposure can harm us in serious ways. Conventional growers (non-organic) use synthetic pesticides that can damage our brain and nervous system, disrupt our hormones and contribute to cancer.
In developing children, pesticide exposure contributes to neurological problems, which impair learning, memory and attention. Kids eat more food than adults relative to their size and are less capable of processing chemicals that enter their small bodies. Both factors make them especially vulnerable to the hazardous effects of these chemicals. You want to get as much of the pesticide residue, etc off of your produce as possible!
Just because we can’t see bacteria and chemicals doesn’t mean they are not there!
Bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. Coli can all find a home on your fruits and vegetables, both conventional and organic. These bacterias can cause food-borne illness and need to be washed away from your produce.
Quick Guide to Washing Produce
First and foremost – Wash Your Hands.
Think of all the things your hands touch throughout the day: door handles, car steering wheels, computer keyboards, your phone, pets, kids, other people, basically your hands are a magnet for germs and bacteria. So before you start cleaning your produce wash your hands thoroughly with natural soap and water.
Clean Your Work Station & Tools
Another source of contamination is your own kitchen- cutting boards, knives, counter tops, sponges, dishes, utensils, cookware, refrigerator, etc. Normally we don’t think of this, but if our knife or cutting board came in contact with the unwashed produce and then we wash the produce, and then we cut it using the same knife, we have allowed some of the bad ‘stuff’ to get into the part of the fruit or veggie we’re going to eat. So clean up your area and tools before you start!
Always Wash Before You Cut It or Peel It
When you cut into an apple, peel a banana or any other piece of produce, you are piercing its cell structure and dragging whatever was on the surface through its flesh. For example, an orange… a lot of people don’t wash their oranges. They just start peeling it, with their hands, and then when they get to the fruit, they break it open into slices and continue on with eating it. Now anything that was on that outside of that orange got onto our hands and then onto the part that you end up eating. You should always, always wash produce before you cut, peel (even bananas!) or chop it.
Use a Simple Home Made Fruit & Veg Cleaning Solution
Buying overpriced “Veggie Wash” is a waste of money, in our opinion. Instead make your own, safe produce wash by following this simple recipe:
DIY - 100% Natural Fruit and Vegetable Cleaner
Whether you purchase organic or conventional, it's always important to wash your produce well. This DIY Fruit & Veg Cleaner is made with three simple ingredients you probably already have in your home. Apple cider vinegar, water, and few drops of lemon essential oil . Vinegar is the major player in my homemade produce wash, reducing both pesticides (yes, even organic produce can be sprayed with certain "safer" pesticides) and bacteria. Lemon oil is antimicrobial, working to destroy bad germs and bacteria. It’s also a good degreaser and may help dissolve the wax that is sprayed on some fruits and vegetables that can seal in pesticides. The combo of the two kills bacteria and does a pretty good job of rinsing away dirt and pesticides.
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup filtered water
- 20 drops good quality lemon essential oil
- 16 oz glass spray bottle
Add ingredients to a spray bottle (make sure it’s clean) and shake to combine.
I like to use glass tinted glass bottles since they help protect the mixture from light.
We recommend keeping the cleaner in the refrigerator for up to a month.
You have a couple of options for using this cleaner:
SOAK & RINSE: For anything that you can, the most thorough way of cleaning is to soak the fruit/veggies in a clean sink or large bowl (avoid plastic) filled with water and 2-5 Tbsp of the Fruit & Veg Cleaner. Allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes and then rinse well under running water. Things you can let soak for a few minutes include: melons, potatoes (even if you plan on peeling), apples, oranges, other fruits with rinds, hard fruits/veggies with tough skin such as cucumber, zucchini, carrots, etc. Also, grapes, plums, pears, avocado are good for soaking. Pretty much, anything you can soak, do it!
SPRAY & RINSE: The spray method is ideal for washing individual fruits and vegetables. Just spray the Fruit & Veg cleaner onto produce and allow to sit for about 5 minutes, then scrub and rinse thoroughly.
For maximum cleanliness from pesticides and harmful GMOs, it’s best to buy organic. If you can’t buy all organic, check out this list for the fruits and vegetables that you should buy organic (the ones highest in pesticides) and just buy these organic.
Dedicated to your health & well-being,