Dirrrty Produce

January 8, 2010

We all know we’re supposed to wash our produce. But how many of us actually do? In my experience, knowing and doing are often two different things. I’m embarrassed to report that for the most part, I don’t wash my fruit and veggies. I may rinse my grapes or do the classic grab-an-apple-and-run-it-under-water-then-rub-it-on-my-pant-leg move, but that’s about it.

Well the other day my brother called to tell me about a re-run he’d seen on Dr. Oz, about the number of people who touch your produce, before it makes it to your home. Again, we all know that other people have touched the fruits and veggies we buy. Come on. We all do it. We pick produce up, squeeze it, smell it, often put it back, and continue our quest for a better one. But yet even while I’m doing that, I’m still not considering how many other people have done that very same thing, to that very same tomato I’m holding.

I guess the Dr. Oz show installed hidden cameras in various grocery stores, and the results were disturbing. People would sneeze right into their hands, then touch the produce. Little kids would pick their nose, then reach up and touch the produce. Plenty of people would lick their fingers to open the plastic bags, then touch the produce. They even captured footage of a woman climbing on a display with her dirty shoes, to reach a better piece. And I don’t need to see footage to know that some people use the restroom, don’t wash their hands after, head back out into the store, and proceed to TOUCH THE PRODUCE!

And these are just the people who touch the produce while it’s in the supermarket! Before it even gets to the store, it’s touched by the person that picks it, sorts it, throws it in the back of a truck, takes it off the truck, sorts it again, boxes it, then un-boxes it to put it on the grocery store display – and it’s not the same person doing all of this. And once it’s in the display, it is fondled by numerous people, all before you come along. Experts guesstimate that about 20 people have touched the produce you bring home.[1] TWENTY. 

When I imagine my daughter having 19 friends over, and them passing around a peach, and each taking a turn holding, squeezing, and smelling it, there is NO WAY I would eat it without peeling the skin off! But this is essentially what I do whenever I eat produce that I haven’t washed first. It’s not just an issue of there being dirt on my produce. Yes, there is dirt, but there’s also germs, mucous, snot, and FECAL MATTER on my produce. I would never walk around a store licking people’s fingers, but that’s pretty much what I’m doing whenever I eat produce without washing it first.

So thank you, Dr. Oz, for waking me up and forcing me to think about something I already knew on some sub-level. I’m gonna try my best to not be a total germaphobe now.


References: [1] http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/supermarket-secrets-can-make-you-sick

Image Source: Konrad, Karsten (Zabong). “23/365: Small and Dirty.” Photo. Flickr.com 8 Jul. 2009. 11 Jan. 2011. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/zabong/3700536508/>.

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