Wash Your Veggies! Organic does not mean clean.

Sep 16, 2011 by Foodscapes Hawaii


Do NOT fall for those romantic images of people frolicking through the garden popping just-picked veggies into their mouth. YOU live in the tropics, where eating unwashed produce is your ticket to rat lungworm disease. You must thoroughly clean all produce you get from ANY source: garden, farmstand, market, big box store or anywhere else.

1. Inspect Closely.
This may seem obvious, but inspect your produce for pesky hitchhikers and remove them before you even get to the kitchen. Trash any produce that has signs of slug or snail activity.

2. Rinse and Swish and Keep Inspecting.
Rinse produce under cold running water. Rub fruits and veggies with your hands while rinsing. For leafy greens, after rinsing, fill a bowl with water and vigorously swish them to remove debris and stubborn pests. Inspect every leaf, both sides.

3. Disinfect With Distilled Vinegar.
Adding a small amount of distilled vinegar to your bowl of water helps remove microorganisms from your produce. Allow greens to sit in the vinegar mixture for a few minutes. Lift greens out of the soak water, rather than dumping the water out over them. Rinse again thoroughly under cold running water, inspecting constantly.

Proper washing is water-intensive. If possible, try to catch your grey water in a bucket and use it in your landscaping.

Like food gardening and cooking from scratch, safe food handling is a critical survival skill. We encourage you to research this topic further and adopt the best practices that work for you.

Garden-to-Table Recipe: Sustainable Twice Purple Almost-Niçoise
(Foodscapes Hawaii recipes by Jenny Engle)

This recipe was inspired by last year's challenge. It is a great supper salad, perfect for dinner on a humid September evening. NOTE: This could also be made in a pinch, almost 100% locally, if you substitute canned wild salmon or canned wild tuna for the tuna steak. Alternatively, without the fish, it could be a great vegetarian option as well.

Serves 2 as a light dinner, 4 as a starter or light lunch

For Salad:
Ma`o Farms arugula, thoroughly washed and dried
8 Ho farms baby Roma tomatoes, halved
3 small local Okinawan sweet potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
¾-1 pound Ma`o Farms Purple string beans (green pole beans can be used), tops pinched off
8-10 Poha berries, halved
1 4-6 ounce ahi steak
Hawaiian salt (either regular or red Hawaiian sea salt)
Macadamia nut oil

1 ½ T local meyer lemon juice
3 T macadamia nut oil
1-2 T fresh basil, minced
1 t tarragon or sweet mace, minced (or substitute favorite other locally grown herb, although I really enjoyed the subtle anise flavor with this dish)
Hawaiian sea salt to taste
Yolk of one hard boiled local egg

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss cut sweet potato with mac nut oil and a sprinkle of Hawaiian salt. Spread out in a single layer on a baking pan and roast until tender, about 20 minutes, rotating pan half way though. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, blanch trimmed beans by briefly immersing in a pot of boiling water; the beans will turn green, remove and plunge into a bowl of ice cold water before they completely change color. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

3. Sprinkle sea salt on both sides of your ahi steak. Sear in a hot skillet with a little macadamia nut oil until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes a side. Remove from pan and allow to cool. Slice fish into thick, even, pieces.

4. While fish is cooling, make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, mac nut oil and herbs in a small jar with a lid. Using a fork, add egg yolk and mash to combine with liquid. Cover jar and shake well.

5. Plate the salad on a large platter. Arrange ad desired. I put sweet potatoes on one side, beans on the other, with a bed of arugula in the middle. I topped the arugula with the fish and placed tomatoes on either side. Top with poha berries and dressing. Dig in!


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