Should You Clean Your Garden And Store-Bought Vegetables Before Eating Them?

How many of you wash your self-grown produce thoroughly before eating it? I’ve eaten dirt knowingly. Not a lot of it, and I know it’s weird, but if you grow something organically, is it even bad for you? Answer: No, if you follow the rules. Anyway, I was asked this question so I figured I’d put something on the blog about it.

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If the produce you’re eating is from a large farm, for example from a large grocery store, you really want to wash it all, even leaf vegetables, thoroughly. This will help to avoid bacteria from soils, but will wash off fertilizers and pesticides too. If the packaging says the vegetables were washed, I would believe it. Many people don’t know that production facilities use a very weak solution of bleach and water (1-3 tsp per gallon) to “dip” wash produce before packaging. Maybe you want to be safer – go ahead and wash it yourself. Give yourself peace of mind. But make sure to take your own precautions to keep from contaminating your own food.

Here’s a good reason why skipping the wash could be bad; bugs. Flies, ants, moths, birds, anything that can crawl or fly can come in contact with hanging fruit and vegetables. Who knows where those have been, and what they are carrying on them. You don’t know what that fly has been standing on. The soil I ate was in such a small quantity too, I only ever ate something after wiping as much dirt off as possible. Plus, I follow a few guidelines at all times.

  • Wash your hands after handling meats, dirt from your garden, your unfinished compost, even paper money and coins.
  • According to Colorado State Extension Office, “Because washing alone can’t be relied on to totally eliminate pathogens, careful control of all potential points of contamination from production to consumption is essential.” This applies to industrial farms as well as home gardens.
  • With cucumbers, an above-ground vegetable, I make sure to at least use a light soap. With all those nooks and crannies a vegetable brush is a great idea as well.
  • Compost manure completely before using in your garden.
  • Use potable water to irrigate. Gray water is good for trees, shrubs, and anything that doesn’t, and will not, come into direct contact with your food.

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In fact, I almost always use soap and a brush on above-ground and below-ground produce. Things like garlic, that have a protective layer of paper on them, and leafy vegetables, are the exception. Lettuces can’t stand up to the rigors of a brush, so light soap and your clean hands are enough to clean them. Cleaning is just a safe way to go, and my pickles taste better as a result.

Now go harvest and eat all that good stuff in confidence!

Thank you for stopping by!

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