The importance of inspecting and washing produce before eating it


Hopefully all of us are choosing organic fruits and vegetables when we enjoy our meals. While the organic label means our foods thankfully lack the pesticides and toxins that other produce has, it doesn’t mean we should just chomp into a carrot fresh from the market.

Although we may want to eat sink our teeth into something right away, it’s best to hold off until we can rinse the food first.

I know, I know: there’s something carefree and fun about eating fresh produce that we just purchased directly from a farmer’s market bin or plucked from an orchard, but there could still be surprises lurking that you don’t want to eat, beyond the fact that it may have been handled dozens of times by previous shoppers with hygiene habits we know nothing about.

Kids who are fond of their runny noses, adults who pick at their skin and then touch those carrots . . . that type of thing. Nasty, but we’re just being real.

Add to that all of the unknown elements such as its transportation and other handling methods and well, it can become contaminated with pathogens from animals and humans, organically grown or not.

Washing produce is also necessary especially if it has a mark or deformity (more on that in a second).

The importance of inspecting and washing produce before eating it

Here are more details about why it’s important to inspect and wash the foods we eat before we actually eat them, organic or not.

Ever find a carrot in the bunch with a deep groove almost down its entire length? It’s still good to eat, so don’t toss it . . . but don’t eat it right away either. Why? That groove is the perfect place for dirt and bacteria to hide. It nestles in there all comfy and cozy and then you bite into it . . . not good.

It should be rinsed anyway, but be especially mindful of cutting up foods with deep grooves and crevices. Cut into the crevice to halve the food, then wash thoroughly paying more attention to that area. For more information about produce and bacteria exposure, check out this article.

Then there are apples. Obviously, we wouldn’t choose a bruised one or one that was pierced by a fingernail. Yuck. But just because it’s free of such a marring, still resist the temptation to eat it directly or throw it in that juicer’s chute. The indentation at the top where the stem is located is the ideal spot for bacteria to settle. Sneaky, aren’t they?

Besides bacteria, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all seen some cobweb activity or some unidentifiable wad of something that looks like belly button lint settle into that spot, right? Still want to eat around that area or worse, know that it’s in your tasty juice? We didn’t think so.

So, that’s our bottom line: pay attention to areas that look like good hiding spots for bacteria and other oddball things. Wash or rinse your fruits and vegetables as you see fit. Some say rinsing is best, others say soaking is ideal.

The entire topic, much like food combining or eating nightshades, can be highly debatable.

Some may say it’s not necessary to wash at all or that the act of washing only spreads the bad stuff around and makes a potentially bad situation worse. Others say we’d be foolish not to rinse foods, even hard-skinned ones.

We say washing produce before eating it can’t hurt.

Just thinking of where the hands of the shoppers before us might have been is enough of a catalyst for us, thank you very much.

Sources for this article include:

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