Dear Sandra

Dear Sandra,

I have an odd question. The other day I was over at an acquaintances’ house while she was preparing supper and I was horrified to see her using dish soap to clean her vegetables!! Am I the only one who thinks this is odd? Or have I been inadequately cleaning my vegetables for the last forty years?

Y. from Regina

Dear Y,

Yes, using dish soap to wash veggies is a little odd and a little unhealthy as well. It can leave a film on your produce and a soapy taste that may even leave you with an upset stomach. Some people take food hygiene to the extreme. I know of a woman who boils the tops of all her canned goods before opening them, because as she says “you never know who has touched the top of that can.”

For the record, a cool rinse with tap water is all your veggies need before serving or cooking them. A good scrub with your fingers or a veggie brush may be required for carrots or potatoes, but even if you don’t plan to keep the skin on, rinse just in case as bacteria or other scary things may pass from the outside in when you cut the veggie. Many companies now sell pre-packaged vegetables that claim to be “ready to eat”, but if you doubt the authenticity of that statement a second rinse won’t hurt. When preparing leafy veggies like cabbage or lettuce, where little critters can hide among the leaves, follow this method: Discard the outer layers and place the leaves in a bowl of cool water with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar, stir for 20 seconds, then let the leaves soak for a minute or so, dump the water and repeat. To be honest I do not know why this done, but it’s my grandmothers advice and I have yet to find a bug in any leafy salad I prepare.

I once heard that almost a quarter of all food poisoning cases are caused by contaminated produce. To keep your stomach free of produce-borne illnesses make sure you sterilize veggie brushes, use separate cutting boards for meat and produce and wash your veggie crisper once a week (easier said than done, I know, but at least do it monthly) with hot, soapy water and of course RINSE your veggies before serving them!

This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of