Is your produce clean enough to eat?

So you’ve made a commitment to eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s certainly a step toward good health and more energy. You know how to pick the ripest tomato and the perfect pepper. But do you know the best way to wash the produce you chose so carefully?

Chances are, like most people, you’ve never given much thought to washing your fruits and vegetables. While research shows that 80 to 90 percent of consumers do wash their produce before they use it, the majority of people use a quick rinse with tap water. While that’s a good start, it doesn’t protect you against chemical residue and people-handling residues that are found on fruits and vegetables.

The problem starts with crops in the field. Crops are treated with petroleum-based pesticides and other agricultural chemicals that are specifically engineered to be waterproof so they won’t wash off due to rain or irrigation.

Then, once it’s harvested, produce from grapes to broccoli is treated with a wax coating, both to make it look nice and shiny in the grocery store and to prolong its shelf life. The wax coating traps chemicals and other contaminants such as soil. Even organic produce may still carry a light coating of water-resistant wax. Water alone doesn’t break down that wax coating to reach the underlying contaminants.

And here’s another unappetizing thought: as many as 20 strangers may have handled your produce before you put it in your cart, from field workers to the person stocking the shelves at your local supermarket to other shoppers. Armed with information like this, some consumers resort to using soap or even bleach to clean their produce.

The intention is good, but using non-food grade products on food you’re going to eat could be potentially harmful. However, there are products formulated especially for use with produce, such as Veggie Wash. This all-natural product uses ingredients from citrus, corn and coconut to remove harmful substances. “The lemon oil really helps to break down and cut through the wax,” says Steve Barker of Beaumont Products, the company that makes Veggie Wash.

Veggie Wash safely and effectively removes wax, soil and agricultural residue found on standard and organic produce. It cuts through the wax and chemicals to leave fruits and vegetables clean and safer to eat.

It’s easy to use and doesn’t mean any more time in the kitchen for busy consumers. For example, for firm produce such as apples or peppers, simply spray thoroughly with Veggie Wash, rub with your hands for 20 to 30 seconds and then rinse thoroughly with water before eating.

For softer or less easily handled produce, simply “swish”—dip, agitate and rinse—in a diluted mixture of water and Veggie Wash.

After choosing the ripest, freshest produce you can find, it makes sense to take care to wash, store and cook it in a way that maintains its color, taste and health benefits.

For more information on Veggie Wash, visit or call (800) 451-7096. You can find Veggie Wash at Whole Foods and other natural products retailers, or in the produce section of your local grocer.

From the Oct. 5-11, 2005, issue

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