Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Dirty produce

Have you noticed how dirty fresh fruits and veggies are lately?  What I mean is dirtier than usual.  Even the so called “washed and prepared” produce has had a major recall from contamination.  A fresh veggie or fruit may appear clean but its probably not?  Do you ever wonder what night critters may have walked or crawled over the produce during the night at the packing house or in the grocery when closed?  What chemicals may have been sprayed on fresh fruits to keep them like they were just picked three weeks or a month later?  The industrialization and distribution of food world wide has introduced many new opportunities for food to be contaminated with chemicals, bacteria, viruses, feces, and parasites.  Such a scary thought.

Have you ever eaten french fries or potato wedges that taste strange, like grit or dirt?  You were probably right.  Food producers are concerned with only one thing.  Their bottom line.  Not our health.  They play a gambling roulette with our lives.  Most of them would rather suffer a recall than take away from profits for extra precautions.  They use the philosophy of “its easier to be forgiven than to get permission” for their own greed.  Its up to us to clean the dirt from our produce and I always do.  I wash my fresh fruit and veggies with dish soap and rinse with vinegar.  These are the potatoes I got last week from the mobile food bank.

I watched a couple of youtube videos about how produce is mechanically harvested and washed because I was curious.  As far as I could tell the water to wash them is recycled and dirty.  Produce is only cleaned enough to make it look pleasing inside a bag.  Not for actual cleanliness.  This is the water after I washed my potatoes.  As you can see they had a lot of dirt on them.

Here are bell peppers being washed before I prepare them for the freezer.  A few days ago I washed some grapes and found little spiders on them.  Yuck!

I wash all produce before I process it.  Grapes, apples, oranges, watermelon, tomatoes, zucchini, collard greens, and so forth all get washed.   Even onions, rice, and beans get washed.  I may still get sick from eating but it won’t be from being too cautious about my food.

I read something very strange in a forum comment someplace on the web.  I can’t remember exactly where I read it but it’s been stuck in my mind.  I’m going to tell it here so I can get it out of my head.  The conversation was about whether or not it was a good thing to save and use the water from canned vegetables as sort of a veggie stock so you don’t waste the nutrients.  Someone had posted a comment that no one should save and use the vegetable water from cans of vegetables that are packed in China because China uses contaminated water.  The person who wrote the comment said eating the vegetables was ok so long as you drained off the contaminated water.  Awww….. geeze, what were they thinking?  What happened to their common sense?  They must have lost it someplace.  I prefer to think the commenter may have been a child or a young adult who hadn’t grown their knowledge and common sense yet.  Contaminated water used in the canning process would also contaminate the vegetable cooked in it.  Also, the high pressure of canning vegetables kills any contaminants.  Like botulinum.    Any germs that live through high pressure canning is going to be some kind of super bug that we don’t want to mess with. Ok, now that I’ve got that out of my mind I’m headed to the kitchen to fix dinner.

How about you, do you wash your produce?  What’s your favorite way?


14 comments on “Dirty produce

  1. Sarah
    April 29, 2017

    Anita, I always watch for your posts – very insightful. Great ideas always.

    • Anita
      April 30, 2017

      Thank you Sarah. I simply write as if I’m talking to one of my kids or grands and I’m always hopeful some of them will find it helpful in the future. Or maybe just interesting.

  2. T
    April 26, 2017

    years ago all produce was mis-shapen or dirty, it was expected to scrub and peel it prior to use. But there was little ‘fast food’ and what there was the sellers took great pride in preparation.

    Visual inspection is the key I think. Can’t be done as accurately mechanically.

    I tried the ore-ida frozen sweet potato fries because it’s hard for me to chop fresh ones but they were somewhat gritty, over-salted…and more expensive.

    Profit and convenience only go so far before an end product is compromised it seems.

    You’d think long-term manufacturers would realize this and strive for a balance.

    But maybe in corporate structure there isn’t the same long-term concern, the decision-makers have already ensured themselves ‘golden parachutes’ and obscene pay so what do they care.

    I think the key to both healthy diet and budgeting is not going to a store to look for specific produce, see what’s on offer and the quality, buy then.

    I eat simply and I hardly buy anything superfluous to needs these days- which includes gizmos and gadgets and fads.

    Hope you are feeling better Anita.

    • Anita
      April 26, 2017

      Yes, feeling much better. So true, those golden parachutes and top percent salaries are set so actual caring is not required. I shop the same way as you. I see what is available then figure out what I’ll eat.

  3. Lilly pickles
    April 25, 2017

    I discovered your blog today and live it. I plan on coming back and reading all your past posts. I am looking forward to getting to know you.

    • Anita
      April 25, 2017

      Welcome and glad to meet ya.

  4. Patricia
    April 22, 2017

    I’ve tried the vinegar bath and dawn dish detergent (very diluted and then rinsed very well) – but now simply put them in a soak of warm water with one or two drops of Mrs. Meyers castile soap – rinse very well and almost feel the squeaky clean.

    • Anita
      April 22, 2017

      Yes, the same thing I get from washing my produce. It feels cleaner and tastes better. I can’t use Mrs Meyers. It breaks me out and gives me bad headaches.

  5. Margie in Toronto
    April 21, 2017

    I wash my veggies and use a vinegar rinse for most things and especially anything that I’m eating raw – don’t worry quite so much if I’m peeling the item. I have to say that I only notice “dirt” if I buy from a farmer’s market – not from a supermarket – however, as you noted, there are other considerations even with packaged supermarket food so better safe than sorry.

    • Anita
      April 21, 2017

      My potatoes were from the food bank so its understandable they may have dirt. The potatoes are “culls” to be donated. Its the store bought produce that I’ve noticed with dirt on them lately. The grapes had tiny spiders and webs. The peppers had dirt I could wipe off with a finger. Maybe the drought in California has something to do with it. Maybe they can’t use enough water to clean the veggies or something.

  6. Randal Oulton
    April 21, 2017

    Dish soap? Good gravy. I thought you were going to say you were doing the peroxide and vinegar technique.

    • Anita
      April 21, 2017

      Thanks for the link. Is that what you do with your produce? I understand the killing of germs with the two but do they cut dirt like a soap does? I’m not just worried about germs but also the dirt and/or feces that may be left behind by some critter.

  7. Linda S
    April 20, 2017

    I don’t use dish soap because of chemicals but I wash them in peroxide water. Did you see on the news last week that someone found a bat in the organic salad mix at WalMart?

    • Anita
      April 21, 2017

      I knew there was some type of creature found but I couldn’t remember what it was. Does the peroxide water get the wax off?

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