How well do you wash your fruits and vegetables

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ShaneDog
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How well do you wash your fruits and vegetables

Postby ShaneDog » Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:28 pm

This may be a stupid question but I figured I'd ask it anyway. Do you wash produce you buy at the grocery store or farmers market before you eat it and if so how well? I'm assuming they say "wash before use" because there is/might be stuff on the produce that can make you sick. Is it soil? bugs? pesticides? herbicides?

If I buy organic, I generally just rinse the items under cold water for 10 or 15 seconds, or more if its something that looks like it has a lot of soil on it. I'm not as concerned about organic produce though as I am about non organic produce. If there are pesticides or herbicides on the produce will rinsing it under cold water really get the stuff off? I would think it would take some kind of scrubbing action to get that stuff off. It's pretty annoying to think that I should be scrubbing every strawberry and grape before I eat it, but I also don't want to get sick or ingest some chemical that will cause me to produce flipper babies.

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Postby Hank_Venison » Sun Sep 02, 2007 9:55 pm


Prof. Wagstaff
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Sep 02, 2007 11:46 pm

Quit worrying - the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweigh any potential harm that might come from minuscule amounts of pesticides, bacteria or what-have-you which might be present (and the amounts are minuscule.) That said, just because stuff is organic hardly means it doesn't need a good rinse - one way or another, a whole lot of hands have touched your food before it finds its way to your kitchen and that's a far more likely source of harm than herbicides or pesticides (unless you're some sort of pest, of course.)

Just wash your hands before handling your food and then give it a good cool water rinse. Use a brush on hard stuff like potatoes and carrots that have been in the soil if there's actual dirt present (you should also rinse things like melon rinds, since the act of cutting them open can transfer microbes and the like to the flesh.) But there is absolutely no reason to believe that special rinses or sanitizers are more effective (and some of them actually contain chemicals you shouldn't ingest, including many household soaps) so why spend the dough? In other words, your current method is just fine.

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Postby towanda » Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:39 am

Back when I used to haul produce from California to the rest of the country, I got to the see the prevailing conditions in a lot of fields where produce is picked. I wash mine every time. Most of the time I use something like Fit or Veggie Wash to remove gunk.

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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Sep 03, 2007 9:38 am

towanda wrote:I wash mine every time.

This is smart.
towanda wrote: Most of the time I use something like Fit or Veggie Wash to remove gunk.
This is most likely a complete waste of money.

Seriously, can anyone point to any evidence not from a Proctor & Gamble press release ("98% more effective than water alone!") that this stuff does anything water does not?

Both the FDA and the USDA recommend NOT using veggie washes. It's likely all just marketing, folks - and I hate to see my fellow Forons being taken for suckers.

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Postby fennel » Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:02 am

It stands to reason that washing with some surfactant will do a better job than only water. But you don't need specialized products. A very mild solution of non-scented, non-industrial detergent such as Ecovert will do fine. I've heard some say they use a mix of water and vinegar. In any case, rinse well.

Some produce is coated with sealants of one sort or another to "protect freshness." (There's newspeak for you.) No doubt it protects biocidal residues, as well.

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Postby pjbogart » Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:02 am

towanda wrote:Most of the time I use something like Fit or Veggie Wash to remove gunk.


And make sure you use anti-bacterial soap when washing your hands. Oh, and make sure your toothpaste is tartar control whitening with a freshness stripe! The non-striped stuff just doesn't cut it.

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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:29 pm

fennel wrote:It stands to reason that washing with some surfactant will do a better job than only water.
I suppose, but it doesn't necessarily mean the difference is of any consequence. I mean, it stands to reason that waving your arm while eating will use more energy than sitting still, but that doesn't mean you'll end up weighing noticeably less for the trouble. Remember: the amount of stuff on your vegetables is almost assuredly pretty harmless before you wash them - rinsing is simply a precaution that's so easy, it just seems silly not to.

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Postby bluethedog » Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:38 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:... but that doesn't mean you'll end up weighing noticeably less for the trouble.

Nice edit. I think it's a bad analogy though.

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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:51 pm

bluethedog wrote:
Prof. Wagstaff wrote:... but that doesn't mean you'll end up weighing noticeably less for the trouble.

Nice edit.

Yeah well, I didn't want you taking things down to the molecular level. Obviously, I was right to assume you might. However, a bathroom scale would surely never know the difference.
bluethedog wrote:I think it's a bad analogy though.
How so?

Look - the issue isn't what's on your food, it's whether or not what's on your food will make you measurably "less healthy" in some way, right? If it doesn't make you sick, who gives a rat's ass what's on your food that you can't even see? So unless someone points me in the direction of a study that demonstrates otherwise, I will continue to assert that this is a whole lotta worrying about nothing - the likelihood of becoming ill from unrinsed produce is still pretty slim. So just wash your hands, rinse your tomato and enjoy, already.

bluethedog
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Postby bluethedog » Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:58 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
bluethedog wrote:
Prof. Wagstaff wrote:... but that doesn't mean you'll end up weighing noticeably less for the trouble.

Nice edit.

Yeah well, I didn't want you taking things down to the molecular level. A bathroom scale would surely never know the difference.
bluethedog wrote:I think it's a bad analogy though.
How so?

Look - the issue isn't what's on your food, it's whether or not what's on your food will make you measurably "less healthy" in some way, right? If it doesn't make you sick, who gives a rat's ass what's on your food that you can't even see? So unless someone points me in the direction of a study that demonstrates otherwise, I will continue to assert that this is a whole lotta worrying about nothing. Wash your hands, rinse your tomato and enjoy, already.

I just hate bad analogies. In the history of the world, no one ever lost weight by waving their arms whilst eating dinner. But many people have gotten sick, or died, over stupid litte things you can't see.

Hell, I'm a bachelor who picks up dog poo every day...so I pretty much agree with you. At the same time I religiously wash up with anti-bacterial soap when I can't afford to get sick (pre-vacation).

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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:11 pm

bluethedog wrote:In the history of the world, no one ever lost weight by waving their arms whilst eating dinner. But many people have gotten sick, or died, over stupid litte things you can't see.
Yes, but that wasn't really my analogy. My analogy was that waving your arms does make you burn more energy than not, just as rinsing with a surfactant does do a better job than water alone - they are comparable in that neither produces a noticeable effect on your overall health. And I assume that overall health is the goal of the original poster, don't you?

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Postby Henry Vilas » Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:20 pm

bluethedog wrote:At the same time I religiously wash up with anti-bacterial soap when I can't afford to get sick (pre-vacation).


[url=http://www.webmd.com/news/20070817/plain-soap-as-good-as-antibacterial?src=RSS_PUBLIC]
Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than plain soap and water for killing disease-causing germs, but the jury is still out on whether they promote antibiotic resistance in users, a newly published research analysis shows.

Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health reviewed 27 studies examining the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial products containing the active ingredient triclosan.
[/url]

bluethedog
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Postby bluethedog » Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:30 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:... they are comparable in that neither produces a noticeable effect on your overall health. And I assume that overall health is the goal of the original poster, don't you?

Yes I agree about the overall health part... do not agree that there is enough evidence that rinsing with a surfactant is not more effective than water alone.

Do agree that waving arms does not contribute to overall health.

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Postby Donald » Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:37 pm

I always wash produce. There are lots of homemade recipes on the internet if you prefer not to pay for FIT or other washes.

There have been several recent recalls (bagged spinach, lettuce mainly) due to contamination of produce with strains of E. coli. Since it is impossible for federal and state agencies to assure the safety of all food products, it is up to the consumer to take appropriate measures. Washing won't get rid of all the bacteria or pesticide residues, but it will reduce the load.

The most effective way to decrease food borne illness is to wash hands often and prepare and store food correctly.


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