Southern Cents: Cleaner Vegetables

by Tina Shake

Have you seen the new fruit and vegetable wash systems? I checked them out at the department store this weekend and was amazed. For around $15 and under you can buy a genuine washing machine for produce. The custom cleaning liquid comes in a container that is shaped like your liquid laundry products.

I can't believe it, how many cleaning agents are we expected to buy to be considered a Betty Crocker, Martha Steward Homemaker? If the list gets any longer I am afraid that I am going to have to register our family as a nonprofit organization and have direct mail designed for the end of the year, tax exempt charity givers. (These donations will only cost you 50 cents per day, for the price of a cup of coffee you could be assured that your donation would go directly to the Tina Shake family in their perpetual time of need. This small sum would ensure that Mike and Tina's two teenage children would continue to develop normally and not sprout an extra finger or toe due to the unconscionable exposure to pesticide residue from two of their daily food groups. If you act now, you can receive a few address labels for your enjoyment and the promise of monthly letters begging you for further funding.)

Apparently over 90% of the produce worldwide have surface pesticide residues and the remaining 10% are grown organically. The organically grown vegetables have lesser residues such as human perspiration, oils, dirt and exhaust fumes from the shipping process. The wax is applied to fruits to make an appealing display in the grocery store as well. Well holy smokes, what do we do now?

The makers of these new cleaners partially disclose their ingredients. Polysorbate 20 is a common ingredient which is sugar naturally derived from fruits. OK, before they derived the sorbate how did they cleanse their fruit. The real question is, which comes first.. the fruit or the cleaner? Remember 90% of produce has residue. Other ingredients are listed as surfactants/cleansing agents and said to be a "trade secret." Yeah, well I gotta secret too, but I wouldn't want to wash my vegetables in it.

I figure if I am going to spend extra dough on extra cleaning agents (with secret FBI formulas) I might as well buy vegetables from the organic aisle at Krogers or from my favorite roadside stand. Even those produce items need to be bathed (don't we all!) and that can be accomplished the old fashioned way. Invest in a vegetable brush and make a weak solution of dish washing liquid and water. If dish washing solution is safe enough to soak my plastic cups and spoons in then, I won't worry unnecessarily about it on my vegetables. Put your items in the water, brush the debris off of your food items and rinse for about 30 seconds. Wow! Clean vegetables without lugging home an extra sack full of new fangled contraptions.

I must warn you that actually cleansing your vegetables might have a slightly odd effect on your family. For instance, your children might be bewildered at the sight of clean fruit especially if you were like me and thought that a quick pass under running water was sufficient. In case of child bewilderment issues it may be prudent to have the little dears wear sunglasses at snack time. The bright colors might momentarily make your family disorientated, leading to behaviors such as staring in awe, and temporary amnesia on manners, especially if they thought that apples "always" had radioactive, green glowing fur growing on the underside.

Hope to see ya next time!

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