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In a perfect world we wouldn’t need to worry about chemicals/pesticides on our fruits and vegetables. We’d all be growing our own organic foods, happily tilling the chemical free soil. Well, that’s not the case for most of us and unfortunately harsh pesticides and supposedly “food-grade” waxes coat the majority of the produce filling the local supermarkets. Fortunately washing your fresh fruits and vegetables can remove different types of bacteria, including salmonella, E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. However a quick rinse in water won’t get rid of the waxy coating or the pesticides. The good news is that just about everything you’ll need to clean your produce can be found in your kitchen.
Plain, Distilled Water
The FDA advocates washing produce with a good amount of cold or cool tap (we prefer distilled) water, using a vegetable brush on tough skinned produce like apples and cucumbers if the skin is going to be eaten. Most feel that just using water isn’t enough to remove all toxic chemicals from produce.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar offers a wide range of benefits which also include using it as a fruit and vegetable wash. Don’t worry, the vinegar taste evaporates. All you need is 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar (or white distilled in a pinch) and a large bowl. Mix everything together in the bowl and submerge the produce, swishing it around for about 30 seconds. Next, rinse with cool running water for about 30 more seconds and enjoy!
Baking soda, another one of those substances with lots of eco-friendly attributes, makes a good produce wash. Baking soda is also one of the main ingredients in a lot of commercial produce washes. To use it, just add a 2 or 3 tablespoons of baking soda to a good sized bowl of water, soaking the fruits and vegetables for a couple of minutes and thoroughly rinse with cold water. You can also just sprinkle of bit of straight baking soda onto tough skinned fruits and vegetables and scrub it off with a produce brush, followed by rinsing.
Lemon juice, which contains citric acid, is commonly used in green cleaning and is highly effective as an eco-friendly disinfectant that also has bleaching qualities. Just squeeze a little bit of lemon juice (about a tablespoon) in a bowl of water and soak your produce. The citric acid, along with the low pH levels can help remove toxic pathogens.
Non-toxic, All Natural Dishwashing Detergent
Dishwashing detergent makes a great produce wash, but only if it’s an “all natural”, non-toxic alternative like ours. Use 1 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent per gallon of water. Once again, soaking, scrubbing if applicable, followed by a thorough rinse.
Retail Produce Washes
The key to commercial produce washes is to make sure that the one you choose is made with all natural ingredients like lime and/or lemon extract, grapefruit seed extract, etc.
These brushes are used for washing produce that has thicker skins, like melons, cucumbers and apples. Giving tough skinned fruits and vegetables a good scrubbing with a produce brush can reduce bacteria by as much as 85%.
Following these tips for washing your produce will help protect yourself and your family.