Think about all the things you touched today – from the telephone to the toilet. Maybe you coughed in your hand and then took out the trash.
Whatever you did today, you came in contact with germs. If you aren't washing your hands, those germs could easily end up in your mouth, especially when you pick up food to eat it. That is why we wash our hands before we eat…to avoid germs.
Unfortunately, we have a chance of getting sick from eating contaminated food, which is why it is important to not only wash our hands but also to wash our fruits and vegetables before we eat them.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), an estimated 48 million illnesses and 3,000 deaths occur each year as a result of eating contaminated food (1). This may be from undercooked meat, not keeping foods properly stored, or from produce. The USDA says food contamination can occur in produce just from food handlers with poor hygiene who come in contact with the food. Contamination can also be a result of poor soil and water quality, along with other factors.
In June of this year, there was an outbreak of E. coli linked to contaminated vegetables that caused at least 22 deaths and left hundreds others sick in Germany, Sweden and other European countries (2). If you think you are just a lucky one, think again.
The possibility of eating contaminated produce is a concern that is very real. This is why it is very important to properly wash and rinse your produce before it is consumed.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives these tips to help protect against contamination in produce:
- Wash your hands 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas
- Gently rub produce while holding it under plain running water
- Wash produce before you peel it
- Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce
- Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel
- Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage
How does washing my fruits and vegetables help?
Rinsing produce in running water removes dirt and grime, but it isn't just the dirt and grime that you have to rinse away.
The problem lies in the wax that is on the skin of produce. Most produce is waxed after harvest to endure the long journey to your local grocery store and to protect it from the hands that touch it. To properly rinse away contamination within and beneath the wax, you need to use a fruit and vegetable wash. Washing produce with a fruit and vegetable wash better protects you and doesn't allow harmful pesticides to enter your system.
How to Make a Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash
There are several produce washes available in the market but there is no need to buy them when you can make your own homemade fruit and vegetable wash. It's simple, inexpensive, and it works.
Fruit and Vegetable Wash Recipe
- 1 BPA-free spray bottle
- 1 cup of water
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
- 5 drops of Lemon Essential Oil from Young Living** (or you can use 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice)
Add all the ingredients to a spray bottle and shake well before each use.
** Young Living's Lemon Essential Oil is sold for $9.75 (plus shipping and tax) and contains over 300 drops of oil. This would make a minimum of 60 fruit and vegetable wash solutions. That amounts to huge savings!
How to Use
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly with water first.
- Use a scrub brush to lightly scrub produce after rinsing.
- Apply homemade fruit and vegetable wash, let sit for a few minutes and then rinse.
- Dry the produce before eating or preparing to cook.
A Couple Tips on How to Buy "Cleaner" Produce
#1 Buy Local Produce
Buying produce that is local means it doesn't have to pass through several hands or travel 1,000 of miles to get to you, so chances are it will be better, and likely safer, for you and your family.
#2 Choose Organic Produce when Local is not an Option
Organic crops cannot be grown with synthetic pesticides or certain fertilizers; therefore, there are fewer risks when you choose organic.
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Health and blessings!
Randi's passion is to teach people the importance of getting into the kitchen to cook! When people get into the kitchen to cook, they can control their health and their waistline. She uses fresh ingredients and traditional foods in her cooking like butter. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, exercise enthusiast and rep for Young Living Essential Oils (providing natural solutions for your health).