My husband insists on washing produce (tomatoes, chili peppers, apples, cilantro, etc) with liquid hand soap before eating. I keep telling him you are not supposed to do this due to all the chemicals in hand soap soaking into the produce. I prefer to use a mixture of baking soda, water and lemon juice to clean produce. Who is right?

First let me compliment you both for wanting to make the food you and your family consume as “clean” as possible. But, neither you nor your husband has the right “solution” for cleaning produce. Most fruits and vegetables already have a coating on them that protects them from bacterial contamination. So, the recommendation for best cleaning produce is neither to use soap nor to use any special produce solution. The best way to wash fruits and vegetables is under running water. Before you start, make sure you wash your own hands thoroughly under warm/hot water for at least 20 seconds. Then survey the produce. If you have leafy greens, peel the outer leaves off of vegetables like cabbage and lettuce and discard. Place the leafy vegetables in a colander and rinse with running water and then place the veggies on a clean dish towel or paper towel and pat dry. These can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag for about a week. If you purchase pre-bagged greens, be sure to wash these as well under running cold water. If you have vegetables or fruits with a rind, I suggest you use a clean produce brush and scrub the produce under running water and then pat dry. This step is important because if you do not, bacteria may travel from your knife onto the produce when you slice into it. Finally, when working with mushrooms, either wipe them with a clean damp cloth or rinse them quickly under running water. I would not let them stand in a bowl of water though, as they are porous and tend to absorb water which can make them spoil faster.

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