When I hit the supermarket these days, I’m seeing canned and frozen vegetables and fruits flying off the shelves. All good, because they’re shelf-stable and many folks are minimizing trips anywhere, including to the supermarket. Yet the fresh produce section, loaded with colorful, delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, isn’t feeling the love.
That’s a problem. There seem to be concerns about buying and eating produce these days, especially if it’s sold in bulk, since other consumers might have handled it.
Feel Good About Eating Fresh Produce
No reason in the least to avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Yes, you need to wash it. You’ve ALWAYS needed to wash it. You DON’T need to wash it with anything special. Here are 7 terrific tips, straight from the FDA website, for washing fruits and vegetables so you can eat them with confidence, :
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
- If damage or bruising occurs before eating or handling, cut away the damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
- Rinse produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
- Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
- Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
- Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
- Remove the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
COVID-19 note: Your risk of getting it from food is slim to none. Check This graphic from the University of Georgia Extension. I love it because it tells you how you WON’T get COVID-19, and you won’t get it from food.
Your stomach acid HATES this virus as much as you do. It’s part of our body’s protective barrier. Stomach acid has a very low pH (meaning it’s a strong acid) and the virus can’t survive that. Plus, the virus needs to get to you through your respiratory tract, not your GI tract. The tips on washing your produce however, still holds. Consider it part of “best practices” on the home front.
Long before COVID-19, I wanted to be prudent and remove whatever dirt and such that might have accumulated on the skin. In our home, we’re eating lots of root vegetables like carrots, beets, and potatoes, especially now, because that’s what’s left in the farmers’ market, and since these veggies grow in the ground, it makes sense to give them a good scrubbing. (Note, in the photo below there’s also kohlrabi and celery root on the left and right, respectively — other root veggies definitely worth trying!) I do the same for oranges and apples, too, though. Food safety is not just a farmer’s responsibility, it’s mine and all of ours as well.
Biggest Pandemic: 9 Out of 10 STILL Don’t Eat Enough Fruits & Veggies!
The latest from the 2020 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee established that average COMBINED intake of fruits and vegetables is just under 2½ cups a day, and that includes 100% fruit juice. Specifically, average consumption of fruit is 0.9 cups a day of fruit and 1.4 cups of vegetables. This accounts for all of it – including your 100% juice and the lettuce on your sandwich. This is about what it’s been for the past 20 years. Not much progress.
I’m not going to bother you with the Mt. Everest of research about the bennies of eating 5 cups a day of fruits and vegetables. Unless you’ve been licving under a rock for the past 50 or so years, you know how beneficial eating fruits and vegetables can be for your health – and your taste buds. I’m just going to say we can do better.
Cut To The Chase Nutrition take-away: I don’t’ split hairs here. While 2½ cups of vegetables and 1½ cups of fruit are the recommended minimums, don’t obsess. If your consumption adds up to at least 4 cups a day, in any combo, and regardless of whether they’re fresh, canned, frozen or dried, take a bow. Keep the juice to a max of 1 cup though, and the dried fruit to 1/4 cup or so if you’re watching calories.
Otherwise eat up.