A few days ago I was doing my shopping and one of the natural cleaning products caught my eye in the produce department. It was this interesting little product called Fruit and Vegetable Wash designed to clear away pesticides in food (but it didn’t say that directly). I’d never seen it before so I thought I’d check it out. Most people just wash their produce with tap water at home, and even in restaurants, so I wondered why the were marketing this product.
I happen to know that rinsing most produce with water is NOT adequate cleaning. Pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals are applied during the growing cycle using a fat-soluble solution that won’t wash off in the rain or during watering. Makes sense, right? If I was a farmer, that’s surely what I’d do.
But let’s think of our own reverse situation. Imagine you have oil on your hands from either food preparation or even working on your car. Who ever went to their sink with ANY oil on their hands with the idea that their hands will get clean and oil-free just by using water alone. We all know better than that. What do we do? We use a detergent.
So now we have a conundrum. Farmers choose to use pesticides that won’t wash off with water alone. I get that. We absolutely want to wash off every bit of pesticide and chemical before we put the produce into our bodies. How many of you actually wash your produce like you wash your dishes — with some kind of detergent? And how do you wash into the multiple layers of lettuce or celery? Then you have to rinse all that detergent off or it will affect the taste of the food.
Sheesh, there’s got to be a better way. It seems like it’s part of our info age that people are starting to get tuned in to this problem. Which brings us to our Fruit and Vegetable Wash I found in the store. I had to see exactly what was in it so I stopped and took some pictures (thank goodness for phone cameras). Hmmm, let’s see.
There was a line about “Because natural ingredients are used, color and body may vary.” Sounds promising. When I perused down to the actual ingredients, the first one was water. Now there’s a natural ingredient and being listed first, it showed what was the dominant ingredient by volume. Next came denatured alcohol (a corn-derived solvent). Starting to sound less natural to me as I’ve never thought of using natural corn as a solvent.
Then came Caprylyl/Myristyl Glucoside. Yum. I just picked some of that from my garden this morning. Right! It says on the bottle that this is a plant-based surfactant. If you don’t want to look it up, a surfactant is a chemical that lowers surface tension of a liquid. They do occur naturally such as in your lungs. That’s what allows your lungs to stay expanded like a bubble. Premature babies are often kept in incubators for days or weeks until their body starts to naturally produce the surfactant needed in their lungs to breathe on their own. It’s this lowering of surface tension that allows for a bubble… and when you and I think of bubbles, it’s usually involving a detergent.
So possibly the only truly natural ingredient was the water. The rest were an alcohol solvent, a detergent, and a couple of preservatives. The directions say to cover ALL the fruit or vegetable, then “rinse away any product with clear, warm water” (there’s that natural ingredient again). And finally wipe dry with paper towels (which I’m sure removes remaining traces of product).
Is there a better way? There is. And with fewer chemicals? Absolutely. How about we go all the way down to that one natural ingredient that kept coming up… water.
If you’ve been around our educational materials for any length of time, we’ve harped on the idea that all water is not the same. Today I want to shine a light on a type of water that has the capability of forming an emulsion with some oils. What exactly is an emulsion and why is it relevant here? I’m glad you asked.
Emulsions are heterogeneous or uniform blends of two liquids that normally don’t mix (think fat (or oil) and water). It means when you mix water and fat together, they maintain their distinct characteristics when combined. They come in two types that you all know from cooking. One type is fat emulsified in water (think hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise, milk and cream) The other type is water emulsified in fat like you would get with butter or vinaigrettes.
There is a very unique type of water that has an extremely high pH and acts as an emulsifier to blend with and then rinse away oil… and I mean that oily layer on our fruit and veggies that contains the residues of pesticide chemicals. It’s as simple as soaking your fruit and veggies in this water with some shaking and agitation and then rinsing the emulsion away. We use an emulsifying water first, then rinse the emulsification away with normal clean water.
But where do you get emulsifying water? From the same top quality devices that create Life Support Water and EO Water (or Electrolyzed Oxidizing Water ) that we talk about fairly frequently. Save your money and don’t bother spraying your produce with a mixture of water, alcohol, detergent, and preservatives. Instead use the most efficient method we know to remove the oily layer of pesticides clinging to your fruit and veggies, no matter how much you rinse them under your tap.
There’s an added bonus we’ve found when we do this. Produce tends to stay fresh almost a full week longer in the refrigerator than it does if you don’t fully remove the fatty pesticide layer. And as for taste… you’ll be amazed what true flavor of the produce is hiding underneath.