Clean your Produce
It’s that time of year again when vegetables and fruits get fresher, farmer’s markets pop up and your overall produce level tends to increase. Most people barely have time to make a dinner, let alone clean their fruits and vegetables properly. But imagine how many fruit and vegetables you touch when choosing what you want. Now, think of all the people who could have touched that produce before you decided to buy it. Cleaning your produce properly is very important to help prevent gastrointestinal issues as well as food borne illnesses. What may seem as an inconvenience is truly an essential part.
Taking an extra few minutes to wash your produce properly can save you a lot of physical agony. Washing your produce will ensure that you eliminate any pesticide residue as well as protect you against salmonella, listeria and E.Coli. All three of these illnesses can be severe with symptoms including diarrhea, cramping, dehydration, respiratory illness, fever and muscle aches. A few extra seconds a day seems worth it to protect against these issues. People who also buy organic still need to wash their produce as contaminants can be in the soil in which they are grown. According to the FDA, most bacteria on produce come from the soil that it is grown in. This puts root vegetables at a higher risk for contamination. However, soil isn’t the only place that can infect produce, water from irrigation or rain can also pollute it. In a more visual sense, bird or animal droppings during growth can also cause contamination. Once picked there are several opportunities for contamination to take place during transport. This process begins with trucks that deliver the fruit and vegetables, to people touching the produce from the farm, to the truck, to the store, to the patrons. Pesticides shouldn’t be the only concern when properly cleaning your produce.
Proper handling and preparing vegetables are also key components for maintaining cleanliness and freshness. According to the FDA there are steps you should take when preparing to wash your produce:
- Wash your hands
- Wash produce under cool running water while rubbing/scrubbing the skin
- Dry with a clean towel
Do not use soap or detergents, simply running cool water over the produce will do the trick. Even if you plan to peel the skin off or remove the casing, you will still want to scrub the produce. When cutting into the produce, bacteria can still spread from the outside in. Also, storing vegetables unwashed until ready to be used will help prolong freshness. Too much moisture can lead to bad taste and rotting. Produce already has a short shelf life so it’s better to do what you need to, to extend it.
Cleaning your vegetables and fruits are very important and shouldn’t be brushed aside. Most should be familiar with outbreaks in the last few years regarding produce, specifically lettuce, spinach and tomatoes. Though it may add some time on to prepping, it’ll save you time from intestinal discomfort. Make your produce taste the best it can.