6 Tips to Consider When Eating Fruits and Vegetables (Includes Infographic)

One of the first times I visited my in-laws in Florida, my father in law Moe was hunched over the sink washing vegetables with vinegar and water. Never had I seen of anyone soaking/cleaning vegetables. Moe was one of the first adopters of Prevention magazine’s recommendations for healthy living.  He was meticulous about cleaning his vegetables, had a strict routine of regular exercise, daily water consumption and he ate an apple and nuts each night. He would also go for long periods of the day without eating. Today, we call that intermittent fasting.

Why did I take you down memory lane? For some reason, Moe came to mind this weekend and I was curious about the reasoning behind thoroughly cleaning fruits and vegetables.

Chemicals in Our Produce Exist

Do chemicals exist in our produce? The simple answer is Yes. Farmers are broadly characterized in two groups: Conventional and Organic.. here is the Google explanation:

“Conventionally grown is an agriculture term referring to a method of growing edible plants (such as fruit and vegetables) and other products. It is opposite to organic growing methods which attempt to produce without synthetic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones) or genetically modified organisms.”

The “attempts” to produce without is emphasized. According to  Organic and Non-GMO Report in 2017,  Debunking “alternate facts” about pesticides used in organic farming the conventional synthetic chemicals approved  for farming are 900 versus 25 for organic production. Each of these farmers face challenges as they grow their crops. It’s known that our produce has chemicals.

Knowing Which Produce is “Dirty” and “Clean”

Have you ever heard of the “Dirty Dozen”? The Environmental Workers Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization whose “mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, we drive consumer choice and civic action.” About EWG. This company publishes these lists for the consumers to follow.

According to Prevention magazine - Dirty Dozen Foods 2019, over 41,000 samples were tested by the EWG. The fruits and vegetables were washed and peeled prior to testing. The amount of pesticides and chemicals varied even within the same fruit. The example that EWG sites is that strawberries grown conventionally could have as many as 23 different pesticides or as little as 7.8 allowing it to rein #1 on the dirty list.

2019 Dirty Foods2019 Clean Foods


1.   Strawberries

2.   Spinach

3.   Kale

4.   Nectarines

5.   Apples

6.   Grapes

7.   Peaches

8.   Cherries

9.   Pears

10.           Tomatoes

11.           Celery

12.           Potatoes

1.      Avocados

2.      Sweet corn

3.      Pineapples

4.      Frozen sweet peas

5.      Onions

6.      Papayas

7.      Eggplants

8.      Asparagus

9.      Kiwis

10.  Cabbages

11.  Cauliflower

12.  Cantaloupes


How To Clean Produce

Do you know how to clean your produce? Washing with water can reduce the residue by as much as 98% according to the Modern Farmer (7 Myths Washing Produce). The standard for cleaning with vinegar is 3-parts water to 1-part white distilled vinegar. You should soak the vegetables for about 10 minutes and then thoroughly rinse. It’s best wash all separately and use a brush to clean certain vegetables like potatoes. Make sure the surfaces are clean prior to washing. Many people use their sinks, clean it first!

Don’t Give Up Fruits and Vegetables

Are you considering giving up fruits and veggies now? This subject is addressed in many of the articles. The research is not clear about the effects of these chemicals on our bodies or if the nutritional content of the produce is impacted by chemicals with mass production. As a lay person, I would guess both are true. It was clear in the articles we should continue to eat a variety of fruits and veggies to sustain our health – not eating them could have a more devastating impact. Additionally, reducing the sugars, processed foods and other unhealthy choices is also important for good health.

How Does the Body Process These Chemicals?

Do you wonder how our body treats these foreign substances?  They are not protein, fat or carbohydrates. Can we metabolize the chemicals? Do you think our bodies are working overtime to figure out what to do with these foreign substances? What if we store them? Is that why Intermittent Fasting has surfaced as a viable way to lose weight? Giving our bodies time to figure out what to do by resting what we ingest? Great questions! What do you think?

What Would Moe Do?

What would Moe do? Hard to say. He grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and probably knew little about farming, but he might grow his own fruits and vegetables today knowing more about this subject. At a minimum, he would continue to wash thoroughly.

Moe was the youngest of 6 children, grew up in the Depression, only sibling to go to college, earned a master’s degree in teaching and school administration, married Doris and raised two boys one of which is my husband, Jason. Moe lived until 5 months short of his 90th birthday. I have to say, he knew then that we should be well informed about what we eat, how we eat it and to treat our bodies with the upmost respect.

Love to hear your comments, if you have some of your own ideas and tips you could share, please email me at alison@alisonandco.com

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