By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
Recently, one SELF staffer found flies in her celery -- blech! Another found worms in her corn -- double blech!
Then, we came across a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) listing the dirtiest fruits and vegetables, based on the fact that they're laced with pesticides and may be more difficult to clean.
Anyone else losing her appetite?
Related: Five Fresh Apple Recipes for Fall!
Here are the 10 dirtiest items in the produce aisle -- and a few cleaning tips from culinary pros: Especially important to add to your cleaning priority list, according to the EWG: Celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, sweet bell pepper, greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.), grapes, potatoes and cherries.
No worries if your faves are on the list. Just be sure to give them an extra good cleaning using these expert tips:
1. Give them an ice water bath. Soak veggies such as grapes (spider webs, mold on the branches = yuck!), asparagus (those pesky little leaves trap junk) and potatoes for at least five minutes before scrubbing them down, suggests Teri Gault, CEO and founder of Thegrocerygame.com. Add vegetable wash or baking soda (see below) for extra dirty produce.
2. Choose carefully. It's easier for bugs and chemicals to enter produce that's beaten up -- think bruising and breaks in the skin. Be superficial -- pick the best-looking fruits and veggies.
Related: The Smartest Grocery List: 20 Superfoods for Weight Loss
3. Wash with baking soda: You can buy pricy produce washes, but don't bother: It's cheap and easy to play chemist and brew one up yourself. Simply fill a bowl (reserve it only for washing produce!) with cool water and add a few tablespoons of baking soda. Soak fruit or veggies in the water for 5 to 10 minutes, occasionally scrubbing with a vegetable brush. This is especially important for celery (bye-bye, flies) which has thin grooves and is angled in, making it a pesticide- and dirt-trapping machine.
4. Buy organic: Obviously, when it comes to avoiding pesticides (the EWG found more than 50 different types on some of the veggies they studied), your best bet is to buy organic. Click here to find a farm near you.
Bonus: 20 New Ways to Burn 200 Calories!
5. Clean your produce promptly: If you wait until you're ready to cook to clean your fruits and veggies, you're less likely to do a thorough job -- because by that point you're starving and just want to eat already! So, when you get home from the grocery store or, even better, the farmer's market, clean and cut up the goods (if appropriate), then store them in air-tight containers to keep them fresh up to 33 percent longer. We love Rubbermaid's Produce Saver Set.
Do you do a good enough job cleaning your produce item? Ever discover something especially nasty in your groceries?
More From SELF:
- Hungry? Try one of these 30 healthy snacks
- Lose weight faster: 6 days to get slim
- Try these superfoods for flatter abs
Check out 10 ways to avoid germs at the gym
- Reach your weight loss goal with SELF's no-stress fitness plan
Photo Credit: Condé Nast Digital Studio