1. Buy locally-grown produce whenever possible. This means you will be eating primarily seasonal foods, but this is a healthy, natural choice anyhow. Local foods are less likely to be sprayed with chemicals – they are better adapted to their growing region, and they do not spend long amounts of time in transport.
2. Fruit and vegetable washes are helpful. Make sure you follow the directions on the label. It has been shown in various tests, however, that soaking produce in a solution of one teaspoon of bleach in a gallon of water will remove pesticides, waxes, microbes, and other undesirable residues from produce. This is a good way to wash leafy greens, too. Soak greens in this solution for at least ten minutes and more solid vegetables for at least twenty, and rinse well.
3. If you are concerned about pathogens like E. coli, try spritzing your produce with hydrogen peroxide followed by white vinegar. Then rinse.
4. Peel foods like apples, pears, and peaches if they aren’t organic. If your produce is organic, wash it thoroughly before consuming the peeling to kill any harmful bacteria.
5. Growing your own fruits and vegetables assures that you know what goes on and in to them. Container gardening is a possibility for those whose space is limited. Containers’ mobility also helps if you have sunny patches that move throughout the day. There are raised beds and other kinds of planters that can allow nearly everyone to grow something to eat.
Tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, blackberries, and melons are good foods to start with.
6. Buy organic produce wherever possible. Some people pooh-pooh the whole idea of organic produce, claiming it is just a gimmick to sell more produce at a higher price. In reality, though, there are strict government standards by which foods are regulated – in other words, not just anyone can slap an “organic” label on their produce and call it a sale. The bottom line is, organic produce does not have residue from fungicides, herbicides, and pesticides. Conventionally grown produce does.
Note, however, that organic produce could still harbor bacteria, so washing still applies.
We hope that How to Make Produce Safer helps you learn how to have safe produce!