Fruit is full of wholesome nutrients, but you want to be sure that you’re eating healthy foods that haven’t been exposed to harmful chemicals. Join the growing number of consumers heading for the bins of organic fruit.
You probably know that organic food is produced without certain fertilizers, pesticides, artificial preservatives, hormones and antibiotics that are banned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Before a food can be labeled organic, a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer meets USDA standards. Companies that handle or process organic food also must be certified.
In addition to being free of unwanted chemicals, organic food is generally higher in nutritional value. For instance, research has found that organic strawberries and corn contain higher levels of vitamin C.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the popularity of organic vegetables is the absence of pesticides, which may be especially harmful to children and pregnant women.
Even organic fruits need to be thoroughly washed to remove any dust and soil. Follow these tips:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before washing fruit.
- Wash melons and citrus fruits before cutting or using for zest (grated peel), as the knife or grater can bring dirt to the center of the fruit.
- Wash grapes in a colander and store in the refrigerator if you’re not using them right away.
- Wash strawberries, raspberries and figs right before using.
- To wash soft fruit, put it in a bowl of water, swirl it around, pour out the water and repeat until the water remains clean.
- To wash very ripe fruit and berries, place them in a colander, splash water on them and give the colander a few turns to make sure all the fruit is washed.
- Important: Never wash fruit with detergent or bleach solutions. Fruit can absorb those chemicals.
If you prefer to wash fruit before storing it, remember that moisture can rob the fruit of flavor, so dry the fruit immediately after washing it. Use clean dishtowels or paper towels. You can layer small fruits, such as berries, with strips of paper towels in a large bowl to soak up any remaining water.
Nutritious food is a key to good health — and eating organic fruits can be an important part of your healthy-eating goals.
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