Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Q & A: To Clean or Not to Clean?
Produce maestro and FoodDay's "In Season" columnist Pete Peterson had a question from a reader that prompted a response he thought GSNW readers might be interested in. Do you have an opinion on the issue? Leave a comment below!
Q: Especially during the season when one cannot know the point of origin of produce, I like to rigorously clean produce before using/storing. I have sometimes used vinegar. Does that help? Do you have any recommendations on this subject?
A: Your question is, perhaps unwittingly, a provocative one. Because of that I want to emphasize my answer is one with which I'm certain some folks will disagree. Also, the column I write is a freelance effort, so my opinions here are unrelated to The Oregonian and FoodDay.
My experience suggests there is next to nothing to be gained by application of any foreign substance to cleanse fresh produce. As for vigorous rubbing, I doubt that accomplishes much either. I rinse my vegetables and fruit under cool water. Anything with open pores (carrots, spuds and the like) gets a gentle scrub. Absent some specific recipe requirement or presentation issue, I nearly always eat fruit (some citrus excepted) and veg unpeeled. The peels often contain significant amounts of nutrients and, of course, fiber.
As I say, these are my ideas, but the prep techniques I use are influenced by my 35-plus years of practical experience. During that time, various agencies tested produce from the racks and warehouses where I worked, as well as those I owned and managed. In only one case, involving winter squash, was there ever a trace of pesticide residue. In that situation, the residue was contained in the flesh.
The problem with pesticide use, as I see it, is the effect of the residue on the people who apply it and that which is left to creep into our water system. It's there where the trouble lies and it's where we should put our efforts to promote use of as little pesticide as possible.
Leave your suggestions for cleaning produce by clicking on the "Comments" link below.
Posted by Kathleen Bauer at 1:08 PM