When you buy produce, it comes with a host of possible contaminants including small bugs, pesticides, fungicides and an assortment of germs.

Organics Are Not an Exception

Even if you buy organic produce, your food may still have been grown using any of over 40 approved pesticides. And some of those have not been fully tested, and contain carcinogens, so unless you are buying from a local farmer who can confirm that he or she isn’t using chemicals, you don’t really know what’s on it. But even if your fruits and vegetables have a clean slate as far as added chemicals go, they have been exposed to a certain number of animals and then the humans who picked, sorted, shipped and displayed them. And they may have been dropped on the floor and squeezed by other shoppers before you.

Sorry if you are now thoroughly grossed out, but just be sure to wash your produce, organic or not, like you would anything else you are going to eat that isn’t clean. (And please don’t think you’re better off eating processed foods to avoid the natural nasties—you need the good stuff that’s in it!)

Use a Food Strainer for Smaller Pieces

To get food clean, it helps to use a solution of one tablespoon apple cider vinegar and a cup of water. If possible let it soak for five minutes, but agitation is key, so you’ll need to do some swishing and scrubbing. For solid foods like apples and melons, use a vegetable brush, but for smaller and soft foods like strawberries and cherry tomatoes, place them in your food strainer, and sit it in a bowl of the cleaning solution. Be sure to do some rubbing and swirling around to get them clean, then lift the whole strainer and run it under the faucet to rinse off any remaining vinegar.

Wash the Outside Even if You Don’t Eat It

It can be tempting to skip washing the outside of foods like melons since you will certainly not be eating the skin, and carrots and apples when you are going to peel them, but even then, it’s not a good idea. For one thing, every time you cut through contaminated skin and into the flesh you’ll eat, your knife picks up junk from the outside and carries it to the inside. Another reason is that your hands will be all over the unclean outer part and likely to be touching the insides when you are moving, separating or scooping it up, so you don’t want to be getting pesticides and other nastiness on your hands and putting it in your food.

Fruits and vegetables alike should be washed and allowed to dry (or dried) before preparing for cooking or storing in the fridge.

You need a food strainer that will hold up to the rigors of vegetable washing and normal kitchen use, so we made sure our fine mesh stainless steel strainer set is well made from the highest quality materials.