Most of us have become more price conscious at the grocery store and some who used to buy only organic are now not so quick to pick up organic produce. I know i have become more picky about what I buy organic and what I don’t – let’s be honest – times are tough. I’ve been sticking pretty close to the Dirty Dozen list. For all other produce, the tips below will help ensure you and your family get the cleanest produce possible.

Improperly handled fruits and vegetables can become contaminated with Salmonella and E. coli, potentially leading to foodborne illnesses. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be washed well with plenty of running water to be safe. Cross contamination must also be avoided. Follow these tips to keep produce safe from store to home:

Purchasing Produce

  • Examine fresh fruits and vegetables for signs of freshness before purchasing.
  • Pack your produce in separate bags which the produce department provides.
  • Pack fresh produce away from meats in the grocery cart.

Preparing Produce at home

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before preparing fruits and
  • vegetables.
  • Rinse all fresh produce with running water, using a brush if necessary.
  • Do not use soap.
  • Remove outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage.
  • Use sanitized cutting boards for cutting up fresh produce and never cut on a board which you use for meat.
  • Clean cutting boards with soap and water.
  • Sanitize with a solution of 1 tsp. bleach per 1 quart water.

Storing Produce

  • Store cut-up fruits at or below 40 degrees.
  • Serve cut-up fresh produce in containers over ice.

Visit the Environmental Working Group website for the Dirty Dozen Summary and download the handy organic wallet guide.