Published: June 22, 2016

    The Chemical You May Be Adding to Your Salads

    I consider myself someone who cares about the environment and my health—after all, the two are connected. I shop locally for organic produce. I frequent the local farmers’ market, and I think about both what goes into my meals and how I prepare them.

    Like my mother before me, I soak and wash all my vegetables, even if they appear clean. I know what even the most organic fertilizer and soil contains, and I’d rather not have that particular aftertaste in my steamed vegetables.

    With this in mind, it came as a shock to me to discover that while I’d been trying to remove impurities from my veggies, I’d actually been adding contaminants, all because I was using unfiltered water.

    I have a countertop drinking filter, but when I’m washing veggies I tend to turn on the tap, fill a large mixing bowl, and let the vegetables soak to soften any dirt before I wash them. And that’s where I’ve been making my mistake. As my salad greens and vegetables soak in unfiltered water, they’re absorbing some of that water—and all the substances it contains. They’ve been sitting there, absorbing chlorine and whatever else is floating in my water supply.

    Bad as this is, it’s nothing compared to cooking in unfiltered water. Vegetables absorb even more water when they cook. Boiling water evaporates, resulting in higher concentrations of contaminants in the water that remains, which again, means more chlorine and minerals being absorbed by my food, especially when I cook something as water absorbent as beans. What was in my last chili (apart from the extra tablespoon of cayenne I accidently added)?

    Chlorine’s bad enough, but in light of recent lead toxicity scares, I have to wonder what else I’ve been unwittingly transmitting from unfiltered tap water to my food. I’d successfully impressed on both of my kids the need to use the countertop filter and not the tap for drinking water, and here I was, exposing them to who knows what in their food. Instant parent guilt!

    The solution was simple enough—I make a point now of soaking and rinsing veggies in bowls of filtered water. The convenient size of countertop filter gives me filtered water right at my tap.