By Tyler Farrish

We’ve all seen news reports about the safety of local market produce: “Fruits & Vegetables from Your Local Grocery: How Safe Are They Really?” Despite sometimes using scare tactics, these news pieces often bring up important food-related topics for us to consider as we get into the summer outdoor market season.

Pesticide use, natural germs and bacteria, too much sunlight, etc–if you haven’t given serious thought to how to best avoid these contaminants from making their way to your dining room table, here’s 3 big keys for staying safe with market produce:

1) Shop Organic & Buy Local whenever possible, especially for the 12 most porous fruits and vegetables, aka the “Dirty Dozen”: Apples, Celery, Strawberries, Peaches, Spinach, Nectarines, Grapes, Sweet Bell Peppers, Potatoes, Blueberries, Lettuce, Kale, and Collard Greens.

2) Wash Everything, even “pre-washed” produce. For leafy produce: Soak in room temperature water, rinse, and blot or use a salad spinner to dry. For hard produce: Clean with a firm-scrub brush under lukewarm running water. Peeling will also decrease microbial load. For soft produce: Soak in cooler water, rinse, & dry in colander or with towels.

3) Keep Your Kitchen Workspace Clean. Keep your kitchen countertops, refrigerator, cookware, & cutlery clean after each use. Especially avoid cross-contamination of uncooked meats with fresh produce, or unclean produce with clean. And don’t forget to wash your hands!

4) Limit Storage Time & Cook Minimally. Keep your produce in the refrigerator when possible. Cook produce minimally to maintain water-soluble vitamins—and if you’re cooking in water, you can reuse cooking water in soups & stews. Avoid washing/cutting/trimming of produce until right before use to limit exposure of nutrients to oxygen degradation.

Please check out the sources for this article below. There is lots of great info!