Organic doesn’t mean pesticide-free
If you instinctively reach for organic produce because you think that means you’re buying fruits and vegetables that were grown without pesticides, Brianne Bell, RD, creator of Frugal Minimalist Kitchen, says you may want to reevaluate. “As a dietitian, one thing my clients are shocked to learn is that organic produce is grown with pesticides, too. They often mistakenly think that organic equals pesticide free, but in reality, it just means pesticides deemed ‘organic’ are used,” she says.
What’s more, organic isn’t license to skip any washing or cleaning steps once you get it home, says Chris Mathews, produce manager and founder of The Great Fruit Hunt blog. “Consumers think it’s okay to eat organic produce without washing. With organic farming there can actually be an increase in food safety concerns because of the close contact with natural fertilizers, such as animal manures and the use of organic pesticides,” he says.
Your produce isn’t washed before it hits shelves
If you think your apples, avocados, or apricots were washed and rinsed before they were packaged and shipped out of the orchards, you might be in for a surprise, Mathews says. “One thing that would surprise a lot of people is that there is not a lot of checks and balances for certain foods before they arrive,” he says. “Some literally come straight from the field to the grocery store floor. For example, there isn’t any sort of cleaning, sanitation, or processing of most berries before they hit a grocery case.” Also, make sure to avoid these cooking mistakes that could ruin your food.
The freshest produce is often hidden
If you want the freshest fruits and veggies—that is, the ones that were set out for customers most recently—you may have to do a bit of work says Nicolette Pace, chef, dietitian, and nutritionist. “Newer expiration dates are placed in the back of shelves, so if you need a longer shelf life, check the back of the shelf,” she says.