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To Wash or Not to Wash?


I was talking to a friend this weekend who said she rarely washes her produce, and frankly, I was shocked. She said that since she always buys organic, she doesn't have to worry about pesticides, and wonders if washing really does any good anyway.

In fact, washing fruits and vegetables makes a difference whether you're buying organic or not. Even if your produce hasn't been touched by pesticides, it has been touched by lots of people and traveled through many different places. As a result, even organic produce could carry bacteria such as listeria and salmonella. For that reason, you should even wash fruits you peel, such as bananas and lemons, so that the bacteria isn't transferred from your hands to your food.

Though there's no guarantee that washing your produce will eliminate all chance of contamination, rinsing it under running water helps blast away impurities. For more on how and why to wash, read more.

  • When washing fruit and vegetables, make sure your hands are clean, and cut away any bruised or damaged sections from the fruit or veggie.
  • It's also important to store perishable produce, such as strawberries and lettuce, in a sufficiently cool place so as not to breed more bacteria.
  • Since the outside tends to get dirtier than the inside, it does help to peel away the outer layers of a head of lettuce.
  • As for prebagged lettuce that is marketed as "prewashed" or "triple-washed," the FDA says you do not need to rewash it, but other experts say you should. Since it won't hurt you to rewash bagged lettuce, I say why not?

What's your take on washing produce? Do you wash all the fruits and veggies that come through your kitchen? What about prewashed salad mix and fruits that you peel?

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