I have a friend who said she stopped gardening when she found a big bug hiding in some lettuce she’d grown. I thought it was funny since fruits and vegetables are good for you and since they grow outside it makes sense that there would be bugs, bacteria, parasites, or other nasty things from something that flew over or lived around the garden. If you bought your produce from a conventional grocery store it’s also quite likely that it could be covered with germs from every other person who’s touched it and of course there’s pesticides and other chemicals to think about!
So. Should you just stop eating your fruits and vegetables altogether?
Absolutely not! You just need to find a good way to get those babies clean.
Since this is a subject that we’ve been thinking a lot about lately I thought I’d do a little research and share what I found with you.
First of all. You should only clean produce with things that are edible themselves. Don’t ever use dish soap or bleach. Secondly, always rinse your produce after cleaning. Drying firm items with a paper towel can remove additional bacteria as well. You can use a little scrub brush for firmer produce. And don’t assume that you can skip the washing for items that you plan to peel. You should absolutely still clean cantaloupe, avocado, carrots, and the like – the very act of cutting or peeling can transfer chemicals and grime onto your food!
Every recipe I found calls for clean water and some form of vinegar (I prefer apple cider vinegar). I’ve seen so many different formulas but it looks like 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar might be best. You could also add a tablespoon of baking soda and the juice of half a lemon if you like.
Your produce cleaner can be mixed together and poured into a dedicated spray bottle or mixed right into a clean bowl or sink for larger (or leafy) batches where it can soak for a few minutes (be sure to swish them around too). After rinsing, produce can be saved for about two days so don’t go and clean a week’s worth of groceries in one setting.