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Be sure to rinse those fruits and veggies

I was rinsing some carrots under the tap water the other day, and my husband asked why I even bothered, since — he said — anything really bad for you would not wash off with a simple rinsing. I think that even a simple rinsing is better than nothing at all, but I wonder what you wise ones have to say on the subject?

— Loni, Medford

Well, Loni, what we have to say is ... eat your fruit and veggies! But, first, rinse them under running, cold water.

There are some conflicting opinions on the value of rinsing, but there seems to be agreement a water rinse is a wise, if not perfect, step to take. Herbicides, dirt and bacteria may cling to the outside of your vegetables, even if you can’t see them, and a good rinse will remove a considerable amount of those unwelcome clingers.

A study from the University of Maine said that when produce is rinsed thoroughly, water can remove 98 percent of bacteria.

According to a 2014 Wall Street Journal article, Michael Doyle, a professor of food microbiology at the University of Georgia and director of its Center for Food Safety, agrees that washing your produce is a good idea. However, he said, it's not foolproof in removing bacteria, especially for vegetables with multiple layers, such as lettuce.

He recommends consumers buy heads of lettuce instead of cut, bagged lettuce, because bacteria can get into the cut lettuce leaves, where no amount of washing will remove it. "Remove the outer leaves, wash your hands, then rinse the remaining leaves," he says in the WSJ story. He said fresh herbs, such as basil, rosemary, cilantro and parsley, also should be washed.

And, of course, don't set your produce down on the same surface that just held your uncooked chicken or hamburger.

Doyle said in the article that peeling vegetables is a tried-and-true measure for reducing the risk of ingesting unwanted impurities. There are produce washes you can buy or prepare, but Doyle said a 20-second rinse under the tap should do the trick in most cases.

So there you have it, Loni, a water rinse will help keep you healthy when you're trying to be healthy by eating fruits and veggies.

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