Everyone knows that fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet and can help you fuel your workouts.
Whether you shop at a Farmers Market or a local store, there is a great variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are important to keeping you fit and healthy and here in Silicon Valley (once called the Valley of Hearts Delight) fresh, organic foods are a way of life. (Also read about food that helps prevent cancer)
However, U. S. federal health officials estimate that nearly 48 million people are sickened by food contaminated with harmful germs, and in recent years, there have been several illnesses that came from contaminated fruits and vegetables—including spinach, tomatoes, and lettuce.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Products proclaim that you need special soap or produce washes to make your food safe. But that’s not so.
According to the Food and Drug Administration there are many things you SHOULD do to to clean your produce, but one thing that isn’t necessary is to use a soap or special wash on fruits and vegetables.
Instead, the FDA recommends these seven tips for cleaning fruits and vegetables:
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
- Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
- Wash produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
- Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
- Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
- Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
The FDA also says to choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged, and make sure that pre-cut items—such as bags of lettuce or watermelon slices—are either refrigerated or on ice both in the store and at home.
There are several ways food can be contaminated and it can happen whether the food comes from the store or from your co-worker’s garden. During the growing phase, fruits and veggies may be contaminated by animals, harmful substances in the soil or water, and poor hygiene among workers. After produce is harvested, it passes through many hands, increasing the contamination risk. Contamination can even occur after the produce has been purchased, during food preparation, or through inadequate storage.
Committing to a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase your stamina, help you lose weight and give you more energy. Just take care to prepare them properly.