Dennis Hackethal’s Blog

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Wash Organic Produce

I’m not a food-safety or health expert.

Some people mistakenly think they don’t need to wash organic produce.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to dinner at a friend’s. As we were cooking, I asked if he wanted me to wash one of the ingredients: rosemary. His daughter said that that wasn’t necessary because it had grown in their yard. She claimed this made the rosemary organic and, therefore, already clean.

Another example: at my previous job, we’d get together every Thursday afternoon to have snacks. Our boss would usually bring chips and various berries. One day, a coworker remarked that the berries didn’t need washing because the label said they were organic.

In both cases, the claim that organic produce is clean by default is a complete non-sequitur. Maybe organic foods are not sprayed with certain chemicals, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash them. And besides, I understand those chemicals guard against bugs and pathogens, so shouldn’t untreated fruit and vegetables be more in need of cleaning? The thought of ‘chemicals’ – as if anything weren’t made of them – sometimes scares people unnecessarily. Pesticides aren’t the only reason you should wash your produce. Dirt can be organic, too.

Even if you grow produce in your yard, animals could pee or shit on it, and all kinds of bacteria could infest it. With store-bought produce, employees and customers may have touched the packaging or even opened it. What if they were sick? And even if they weren’t, wouldn’t you want to wash food that a stranger may have touched? Some produce isn’t packaged at all.

Organic produce isn’t clean by default. Washing it only takes a second.


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