One Green Thing: The best way to wash produce

By Jan Herbert
Rockford Park District

Whether you were “green” before the color was fashionable or whether you’re just ready to find the “shade” that works best for you, here’s information about doing just “one green thing.”

On the farm, you simply knocked the dirt off. My grandfather carried a pocketknife to lop off the tops, and they went back in a pile for compost, I imagine. The tasty items were carried into the house, usually to be cooked right then. Sometimes they looked so good to him, he ate something right there!

Now, however, we have more things to be concerned about. Whether you purchase vegetables at the grocery store or at the farmers’ market (not everybody grows organic vegetables, you know), how to clean them deserves a discussion. To save your cash, you don’t need the store-bought, pre-made washes. You probably already have the thing you need (although some of you may not know why). Just grab the white vinegar from your cupboard. Mix water to white vinegar three-to-one in a spray bottle. This diluted solution kills 98 percent of bacteria on produce (some researchers say it works better than a scrub brush). So, squirt it on, scrub if needed, and do a quick rinse. Remember, water is a resource, too, so don’t leave the tap running to do this.

Already bought the premix? Use it up, and be sure to recycle the container. If you “make your own,” you will be saving on the energy and materials needed to make the product and ship them to your store.

Hang on to that white vinegar (and maybe even buy some more)…there are lots of other uses that do NOT include making salad dressings.

(It’s getting to be time for those iridescent beetles, and a good friend assures me, he has an inexpensive design ready to share, so you can “make your own traps.”) You won’t need white vinegar, however.

For more information, e-mail Jan Herbert at

From the Nov. 10-16, 2010 issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!