After working on “Safer Eats” on page 36 of our July issue, I realized that while I may get an A+ for stocking my fridge—and building weekly meals— around all kinds of fruits and vegetables, I've been playing a game of Russian roulette when it comes to my family's health.
I’ve been known to pop open a box of cherry tomatoes and toss them into salads without washing. Ditto pre-washed salad greens. I never wash avocados and melons. Heck, you don't eat the skin.
But after we spoke to numerous experts to report this story, I have mended my food prep ways. And if you think that buying organic produce will protect you from getting sick, guess again...sneaky little microorganisms that cause food poisoning (and worse) love to hang out in the nooks and crannies of any fruit or veggie—especially at the stem and blossom end.
Consequently, everything needs washing before it hits your salad bowl or even the pot you're going to cook them in. So I've bought myself a veggie brush and I keep it out where I'll be reminded to use it. Other useful tools include a salad spinner, a colander, and an apple corer which quickly eliminates that stem problem—not just for apples, but pears and other firm fruit.
While nothing is going to keep you 100 percent safe, these food prep tips can help cut the odds of getting sick:
DON’T waste money on a veggie wash.
In most cases, these products haven’t been found to be more effective than rinsing, rubbing, and scrubbing produce under tap water.
DO wash prewashed greens.
In our tests of bagged washed greens, we found a range of bacteria that indicates filth!
DON’T forget to clean your veggie bins.
They are the most bacteria-laden areas in the fridge, so clean them often with a sanitizing solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon of water.
For more tips on getting dirt and bacteria off specific fruits and veggies, be sure to read the entire article.