OMG! There is a bug crawling on my kale! Yuck!! And that was enough to take away my appetite and my good intentions to eat a nutritious salad. I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan of sharing my food with eight-legged creatures. It took me a completed Master Gardener program and a couple of months of being a part-time urban farmer to realize that those critters mean no harm and actually, it's a good thing to have them there.
Here at Lettuce, our produce is harvested the very same day it is packed into the meal kits, so don’t be surprised if you find one (or a few) of my newly acquired friends in your boxes. While we put a great deal of effort into washing and removing these critters, on occasion some may slip past us. If that happens, no need to panic or lose your appetite. Gently remove them from your food (a.k.a. their home) and put them in a safer environment like your yard, and make sure to clean your produce appropriately. Again, while we do wash our produce thoroughly, a second rinse never hurts.
We did some research about recommended ways to wash your produce:
- According to the FDA, you should wash any fruit and vegetable before peeling, cutting, cooking or eating it (especially if you are eating it raw).
- Most bacteria are attached to the soil of the produce.
First, make sure everything else is clean:
- For hands, use warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling any produce
- The countertop, cutting boards, knives and other utensils like a colander or salad spinner.
- The water you are using should be clean, meaning potable--safe to drink
There are different methods to clean it, depending on the produce:
- Scrubbing with a soft brush if the skin is thick, like cucumbers or apples; and carrots, or potatoes, which are grown inside the soil.
- Soaking in clean cool water for fragile produce (i.e, strawberries, grapes) or with a lot of surface area, like leafy greens or broccoli. Fill a deep container with clean cool water and soak the produce, moving it around to make sure it gets soaked thoroughly.
- You could use distilled or bottled water (which are already very clean) or a mixture of 1 part of distilled white vinegar per 3 parts of clean water
- Experts do not recommend washing your produce with detergent as it could leave potentially harmful residues
- Research shows that using clean potable water is as effective as the commercial wash treatments, and less expensive.
- After you are done washing, remove excess water and pat dry with a clean paper towel
- Once you cut or peel it, refrigerate it ASAP at 40F or below.