Before I moved to China I rarely gave a lot of thoughts to food safety. In Denmark I would choose organic if the price and availability were reasonable and I would buy local whenever possible. I love the thought of eating Danish fruits & veggies.
Still, I would classify my attitude towards organic, local and safer products as "comfortable". Thus if it were convenient for me I would get it, if not I would choose imported or cheaper products.
When it comes to cleaning my fruits & veggies the story is the same. Yes, I would always wash my apple and soak my baby spinach. But rinse, scrub or use anything else but water to clean it have never crossed my mind.
Then China happened.
Being a vegetarian, a salad-lover and a smoothie-addict I consume a looooot of fruits & veggies every day. So when I discovered the local Chinese Veggie Markets with good prices and good selections (as oppose to the outrageous priced international supermarkets) I was a very happy rabbit: Buying local & saving money. Every weekend my boyfriend and I would do a mission to the market and get bags and bags of greens, yellows, reds, pinks and more greens for the forthcoming week. We did sometimes talk about the safety and cleanness of everything but we are not too fuzz about things in general. I mean we all eat out in Shanghai so often and believing that any eatery here can use anything but the cheapest to stay competitive would be a naive belief (in my opinion). Still I often found myself with a wondering taste in my mouth thinking about how many pesticides and how much hidden dirt from Chinese soil I had just consumed.
Then I heard about Apple Cider Vinegar Solution as a natural remedy to properly clean all kinds of fruits and veggies (I have previously used it as a natural and efficient way to clean my yoga mat and other gym tools which you can read about here).
I made a google search and lots of articles and food blogs popped up with great proof that there is something to this natural miracle solution. Tiffany from "Don't waste the Crumbs" have a great post showing actual pictures of the dirt-left-overs from Strawberries soaked in ACV solution - check it here - it speaks for itself.
Commiting to Apple Cider Vinegar Solution
My philosophy is that it's very possible to live healthy in Shanghai. It just demands a few things like planning, research & commitment. So after realizing that there is a way to feel better about buying and consuming local here in Shanghai I decided to commit to following this way and soak all my fruits & greens in Apple Cider Vinegar Solution.
- Apple Cider Vinegar Solution: Apple Cider Vinegar can be bought in most International Supermarkets here and I've both seen and used non-organic which cost around RMB 20 - 30/bottle. Organic is around RMB 70. I use approximately 1/10 Apple Cider Vinegar and 9/10 water mixed in a big bowl. I soak fruits and veggies for 10 minutes in the solution (I find that stirring is effective) and dry them in a clean kitchen towel.
- Fruits: Most of the time I will wash fruits as soon as I bring them home so that when I'm craving an apple it will be ready to eat. I will clean watermelon, grape fruits & avocados in the solution even though I don't eat the peel or the shell. Why? Because if you think about it these fruits' outer layer will be all over your hands and chopping board when you are preparing them.
- Veggies: I normally clean my veggies when I'm preparing a salad or something else where I plan to use them - I find it too difficult to dry properly when I'm not using them straight away and you don't want to put cleaned fruits or veggies back in the refrigerator before they are dry.
But, what about on the inside?
The next question is what about these fruits and veggies on the inside and all the cra* from the polluted Chinese soil they might have absorbed and grown from? That is a really good question and I can't say I'm not concerned. But, I am a realist not an idealist and this might be why I as a healthy lifestyle addict can still live in this place without being too frustrated or paranoid.
I myself is currently looking into safer options than the Local Veggie Markets. I'm doing research and talking to people from the healthy & "safer food scene" in Shanghai in order to figure out if other options like buying through online suppliers (i) is affordable/reasonable (ii) has proof that it's actually safer and healthier. The polluted soil is the same I would say but of course if we can avoid additional chemicals and pesticides at least that is one step in the right directions, don't you think so?
Subscribe and I will make sure to keep you updated with whatever I come across during my search:
I would love to hear from anyone with opinions, inside information or healthy & safe tips! Let's help each other with Healthier Habits!