Fruits and vegetables are so important to good health. Regardless of whether you choose organic, or conventionally grown, the important thing is to eat your fruits and vegetables and plenty of them. The health benefits of a diet high in fruits and vegetables far outweigh any potential risks from pesticide exposure. Here are some tips from the Food and Drug Administration to keep your produce safe.
- Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
- When selecting fresh cut produce - such as a half a watermelon or bagged mixed salad greens - choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
- Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products to take home from the grocery store.
- Certain perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) can be best maintained by storing in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.
- All produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated to maintain both quality and safety.
- Start with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
- Wash and scrub produce under streaming water to remove dirt, bacteria and surface pesticide residues, even produce with inedible skins such as melons.
- Do not use soap.
- Remove the peel from fruits and vegetables.
- Remove the outer leaves of leafy vegetables.
- After preparation is done wash your hands again for 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
Remember to eat a variety of foods from different sources and buy local when you can. Locally grown foods are usually fresher -- and kinder to the environment -- than produce that’s been trucked across the country in energy-consuming vehicles.