A couple months back, I committed to eating better, including buying organic food. I've really been trying to stick to that commitment, but it is difficult to find organic produce where I live. I've been searching for a way to effectively clean my non-organic produce (especially those that are known to have the highest levels of pesticides) and discovered a few things (to learn more about #1 and #2, read this New York Times article):
1. Rinsing with tap water is just as effective as rinsing with a veggie wash--so do don't waste your money! Do be sure to rub the produce when rinsing; a study showed that friction was key to removing contaminants.
2. Even better than washing with tap water or veggie wash is soaking produce in vinegar. A 10% vinegar-to-water mixture has been shown to reduce bacteria by 90%, viruses by 95% and pesticide residue, although I couldn't find a percentage for that one.
3. Discard outer layers. Although pesticide sits on produce so long it often seeps through the outer layers, it can still be beneficial to peel the skin or toss the outer leaves of fruits and vegetables.
4. Even if your produce is organic, you should wash thoroughly. Who knows how many dirty hands have touched it in transit!
I tried out the vinegar wash on blueberries, Asian pears and apples and am happy to report that a good soak plus tap water rinse left no vinegar-y taste.