From the New York Times' ANAHAD O’CONNOR
Published: October 4, 2010
"THE FACTS: The prospect of ingesting pesticides and other contaminants can make supermarket produce seem less than appetizing. Buying organic lowers the risk, but is no guarantee against food-borne pathogens.
Scientists have found some effective household measures that can eliminate germs and pesticides. The simplest? Rinsing with tap water, which works as well as a mild soap solution or fruit and vegetable washes.
In studies at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in 2000, for example, scientists compared pesticide removal methods on 196 samples of lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes. Some were rinsed under tap water for a minute; others were treated with either a 1 percent solution of Palmolive or a fruit and vegetable wash. Tap water “significantly reduced” residues of 9 of 12 pesticides, and it worked as well as soap and wash products, the studies found.
Water temperature was not the key; friction was. “The mechanical action of rubbing the produce under tap water is likely responsible for removing pesticide residues,” scientists wrote.
For micro-organisms, try rinsing produce with a mild solution of vinegar, about 10 percent. In a 2003 study at the University of Florida, researchers tested disinfectants on strawberries contaminated with E. coli and other germs. They found the vinegar mixture reduced bacteria by 90 percent and viruses by about 95 percent.
THE BOTTOM LINE To remove pesticides and germs, rinse produce with a vinegar solution, then wash with tap water for at least 30 seconds."