According to the CDC, adults should consume 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day to take in vital nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that lower the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease(1). Before you can put any fresh produce into your mouth, whether homegrown or from the supermarket, it is important to wash it properly. While most people associate meat as the cause of foodborne illness, fruits and vegetables may also be contaminated. Here is a breakdown of how you should wash your produce and how alkaline water can make a significant difference in ensuring your produce is properly cleaned before it is consumed.
How to Wash Your Produce
The FDA has provided seven steps to clean your produce(2):
- Before prepping fruits or vegetables, wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and warm water.
- Cut any bruised or damaged areas of your produce and discard it.
- Rinse fruits and vegetables well before peeling or cutting so you do not contaminate your knife or cutting board.
- Rub produce with your hands under the water.
- Use a vegetable brush on firmer fruits and vegetables such as melons or squash.
- Dry the produce using a clean cloth or paper towel.
- If cleaning leafy greens such as cabbage or lettuce, discard the outermost leaves.
*All perishable produce should be stored inside the refrigerator at or below 40◦F.
Soaking your vegetables in a tub of water is not recommended because instead of washing away any bacteria, virus, or pesticides(3), these harmful contaminants will disperse into the water. Produce that may have a wax, such as apples, must be adequately scrubbed as harmful residue may be present underneath the wax. It may be tempting to use soap to clean produce, but like humans, vegetables are porous and may absorb non-edible chemicals from soap.
Should I Use Alkaline Water to Wash Produce?
While the FDA only recommends regular tap water for washing produce, tap water is not effective at removing pesticide residue. According to an NCBI study, washing produce using water with a higher pH value is more effective than other washing solutions at removing pesticides. This is because pesticide is hydrophobic. The study published by the NCBI indicates that tap water reduces pesticides by only 10-40%, while alkaline water led to a 40-90% loss in pesticides. By using alkaline water to wash your fruits and vegetables, you can reap the benefits of a healthy diet while keeping your plate pesticide-free.
There are several ways you can have access to alkaline water to wash your produce:
- Combine 8 ounces of water with 1/8 tsp of baking soda*
- Combine 1/8 tbsp of lemon juice with 8 oz. of water
- Use a water filter
- Use pH drops
- Invest in a water filtration system
*Please note that consuming baking soda with water is not considered healthy because baking soda has large amounts of sodium, which can raise blood pressure.
What is the Easiest and Most Convenient Way to Have Alkaline Water?
The easiest way to have access to alkaline water whenever you need it is to invest in a water filtration system. The Better Water Co. offers the Kapha Alkaline Purified Water System, which raises your water’s pH between 8.5 and 9.5. This space-saving system is installed under the sink and eliminates harmful contaminants such as bacteria, pharmaceuticals, chlorine, and other chemicals from your water. Not only will you have access to healthy alkaline drinking water at your convenience, but you can use this water to wash your fruits and vegetables. You will stay hydrated while eating the healthiest fruits and vegetables that are clean and pesticide-free.
(1) “Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables” CDC.gov, November 16, 2017, accessed February 11, 2021 https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html#:~:text=Depending%20on%20their%20age%20and,of%20a%20healthy%20eating%20pattern.
(2) “7 Tips for Cleaning Fruits, Vegetables” FDA.gov, June 10, 2018, accessed February 11, 2021
(3) Yangliu Wu, Quanshun An, Dong Li, Jun Wu, Canping Pan “Comparison of Different Home/Commercial Washing Strategies for Ten Typical Pesticide Residue Removal Effects in Kumquat, Spinach, and Cucumber” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, February 6, 2019, accessed February 11, 2021 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388112/