FOOD 101: Showering With Vegetables

Despite the promise of enticing images of wet and naked hominids strategically occluded by broccoli -- or Da-da showering with relatives -- this post isn't meant to be fun. NO FUN! Instead, it will strive to be what Da-da tries to be every day: practical, yet entertaining. Sorta like Ben Franklin. Ben was nothing if not practical, and highly entertaining. He also was naked a lot, taking air baths in France, which is tangentially related to the lead sentence, but takes us somewhere no one wants to go, not even Da-da. Onward.

Actually, let's go backward, about eight years.

Da-da used to work for a food science and safety organization that certified whether something was organic or not, whether it was sustainably harvested, whether it was stolen from the Brazilian rainforest, whether it could be accidentally sprayed on the cat and make it minty fresh, etc. Once inside the building, you couldn't swing a minty cat without hitting a food scientist or an award-winning chemist.

After he'd started working for said company, and with an eye toward Ma-ma's pre-pregnancy body (mmm, Ma-ma's pre-pregnancy body) and Da-da's future children, Da-da went to one of their best food scientists and asked how he personaly prepared his raw fruits and vegetables.

"Like organic broccoli, for example," Da-da offered.

The food scientist... let's call him, MARIAH. No, that's the wind. Howbout, BOB? Yeah. BOB. Bob looked Da-da in the eye. He was a serious guy and seemed purturbed that so many people knew so little about how to deal with negotiating the modern foodchain. Or maybe he was purturbed by Da-da's woefully low IQ. Either way, to Bob, food safety was as serious a subject as there was on earth.

"Organic broccoli," Bob mused. "You don't have to wash that, right?"

"Right," Da-da said.


"You said organic..."

"The certification, 'organic,'" Bob explained, "pertains only to what goes into the soil. Nothing else. Organic vegetables and fruit still have pesticides and fungicides and herbicides and waxes sprayed all over them, repeatedly, coated with a chemical sludge studded with bugs and dirt and microorganisms, e-Coli bacteria... everything is coated with this stuff, even organic produce. I won't even begin to talk about NON-organic stuff. Horrible. For you, and for the soil. No one should buy non-organic produce. Needless to say, all fresh produce should be washed well prior to ingestion."

All the pretty broccoli.

"How? Say for organic broccoli? What do you do at home?"

"I put the broccoli in a large bowl, fill it with water, and add a drop of detergent to break the surface tension."

"Detergent? Like Dawn?"

"NO! Dawn is horrible. Buy a food-grade soap at a local foodie market, like Whole Foods or Trader Joes. I used Biokleen and Trader Joe's Fruit and Veggie Wash for all produce, and Ecover for dishes and hands.

"Like I said, for food cleaning, place whatever it is you're washing into a bowl, fill it with water, and add a teaspoon of food-grade detergent to the water. Swish the fruit or veggies around. It'll foam a little, but that's ok. Let what you're washing sit for five to ten minutes and pull it from the water, then drop it into a colander and rinse well.

"Be sure to look at the leftover wash-water in the bowl you just washed the produce in: it's eye-opening. That wash should remove most of the pesticides, waxes, dirt and beasties living in there."

"Five to ten minutes," Da-da mused.

"Yup. Then rinse. Do this with everything."

"Even oranges?"

"Even oranges. And especially apples. Anything you're going to handle and eat, peel or cut. Or anything that's going to touch a food preparation surface."

"Same for lettuce?"

"ESPECIALLY lettuce. Bugs adore lettuce. Farmers spray the crap out of it. I wash my lettuce twice: first in the one bowl of detergent, then in another bowl filled with clean water, then rinsed in a colander, then into the salad spinner. Uh, I never eat salads in restaurants." He shuddered.

"Even wash that box-O-lettuce in the store that says it's been cleaned three times?"

"Don't trust any corporation when your family's health and safety are at stake. Only takes five to ten minutes. Like I said, wash and soak and rinse everything. It helps to buy some tools to make the job easier. That food soap I mentioned helps; it washes out cleanly, as it's just grapefruit seed and lime peel extract. I use two large metal bowls, like those used in restaurants. They're about $10 each, but you can use any plastic bowl, too. I keep them on one side of the sink, along with a colander. Seems like a bit of work, at first, but you can taste the difference. And the health benefits of not eating poison all the time will be pretty obvious when your children grow up strong and healthy and intelligent. You'll see what I mean when you look at the water in the soak bowl."

An intern who'd been eavesdropping poked her head over the edge of Bob's cubicle. "What about watermelons and cantaloupe?"

Bob shrugged. "You still need to wash 'em. You have to use a knife to open 'em up. If the skin is contaminated, the knife will just spread the contamination to the flesh inside. You gotta clean everything."

Bob's phone started ringing. "WASH EVERYTHING. And only eat at restaurants that are responsible enough to wash everything. Many don't, especially chains. When in doubt, ask. And don't eat ANYTHING processed. Nothing. You'd run screaming into the night if you saw what went into that stuff."

Bob answered the phone and Da-da went home to wash everything four times. Even the cat.

In case you still think the term, "organic" is bunk (indeed it is for Monsanto- and ConAgra-owned brands of processed food), check out this latest finding by a Middle Schooler who's going places: Is Organic Better? Ask a Fruit Fly.

It's a little bit more, but you're worth it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Da-da received NO compensation of any kind for the above product mentions. It wouldn't make much difference, as Da-da makes fun of pretty much everything -- except broccoli, which is inherently funny.

In case you're interested, here's a handy list of GMO frankenfood brands to avoid. And a comprehensive black list of other GMO brands to avoid. Again, Da-da gets nothing for doing this. He just wants to help. He's just that way.

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