Food-borne illnesses from fruits and veggies have more than doubled over the past 10 years. That’s one more reason why you should always wash fresh produce first—even if you’re going to slice or peel it, since the knife can transfer bacteria from the outside in. Cut away bruised areas because bacteria can make a home there too.
Here are some options for washing away health hazards, such as pesticides, bacteria, waxes and soil:
- Water – The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends washing with cold tap water and using a brush on produce with firm surfaces, such as potatoes and apples.
- Store-bought produce wash – John Muir Health’s director of Nutrition Services, Sandra Rigney, likes the convenience of these products and advises buying those without chemicals, preservatives or artificial ingredients.
- Vinegar and water – A Cook’s Illustrated magazine experiment found this treatment to be more effective than water. Fill a spray bottle with one cup of white vinegar and three cups of water. Wash off residual flavor with cold water.
One last, surefire tip for reducing exposure to pesticide residue: Go organic.