Friday, January 7, 2011

Produce washes, necessary or not?

I had a provider ask me recently if produce washes (such as Fit fruit and vegetable wash) are really necessary.  The answer is "no" if your goal is remove pesticide residues from your produce.  Studies have shown that plain water is just as effective at removing pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.  The key though is to scrub the produce while holding it under running water to do the most effective job. 

If it is the bacteria on produce you are concerned about, you still don't need to buy a produce wash.  You can make your own vinegar solution which has been shown to be effective in decreasing bacteria levels from the surface of fruits and vegetables.  Experts recommend washing the produce with a solution of one part vinegar to three parts water and then rinsing with plain water.  Using dishwashing soap or other soap to clean your produce is not recommended since it is not meant for human consumption.

One more thing to keep in mind is that even produce that you will be peeling (such as cantaloupe) needs to be washed first because bacteria on the outer rind can get inside on the part you do eat when you are cutting it.  There have been several instances of Salmonella outbreaks involving cantaloupe so I always make sure that I wash cantaloupe and other melons before I slice them. 

Finally, since water (or anything else) cannot get rid of pesticide residue inside the rind or in the flesh of fruits or vegetables I always try to buy organic produce when I will be eating the rind or the entire leaf (such as cucumbers or lettuce).  The Environmental Working Group also has a guide to the "dirty dozen" list of fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticides in them.  If you find that buying the organic version for all of your produce is too costly, buying the organic option of just the 12 fruits and vegetables on this list will help you avoid quite a lot of pesticides.


  1. thanks for this information! Very useful for those of us who wish we could afford more organic produce.

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