The Dirty Price for Organic Produce

Refrigerator Veggie Drawer
Refrigerator Veggie Drawer

So this is not a statement about politics…it simply is about dirt.  When you buy your produce at the grocery store, especially if it is grown conventionally it’s clean looking and sprarkling and even shiny (waxes, washes…).  However when you buy from a farmer’s market or get a produce box delivered from a CSA, it’s dirty.  Of course there’s nothing wrong with that.  It just takes some extra effort. 

Sometimes parents in my classes ask if it is necessary to wash organic produce.  The answer is YES.  Even if it doesn’t look dirty, the produce may have bugs (bug feces), dirt, bacteria etc.  And just because you’re not going to eat the peel, such as a carrot.  You still need to wash the outside.  Everything from the outside of that carrot is getting pushed right inside when you use the peeler or knife.

 My family gets it’s dirtiest produce from our own yard and CSA box.  When we pick a radish or something else from the ground, it’s clear it needs washing.  And CSA’s don’t have time (or resources) to wash your produce.   I didn’t realize how messy produce could be until I looked into my new refrigerator and saw the dirt. (see above).  Oh my!  My kids and I love to come home to see the box of produce on the front porch on delivery day.  It’s the element of surprise and a bit like opening a present on Christmas morning.  “I wonder what’s inside”, my daughter will say. 

We three gather around the “low table” and everyone looks in and starts taking out and identifying “Carrots, grapes, peppers, potatoes… Is this kale or chard?”  Before I saw the dirt in the refrigerator, we were simply transferring the items from the box to the produce bags to the refrigerator.  Well now we we have a new system…

1. Unpack and identify

2. Give items that need washing right away (not greens or berries) to mom at the sink

3. Mom washes, scrubs and dries

4. Kids count items and put in reusable produce bags.  (These bags are great.  They look like mesh and the produce can breathe.  However unlike plastic or bio bags, the dirt escapes)

5. Put appropriate bags in refrigerator or bowl(s) on counter. 

Of course there’s some upfront time (but we make the chore fun), and now I can keep my refrigerator clean (and save time when prepping to cook).