Serious question: Does produce with thick and hard skin need to be washed?

We may sometimes forget to wash our fruits and veggies before consumption, but let's be honest — we may skip washing things like lemons, melons and bananas altogether. In the video above, expert Marge Perry from says a lot of people think if they aren't eating the skin of a fruit or veggie, it doesn't need to be washed.

Perry goes through the best practices when it comes to each fruit and vegetable and talks about bacteria levels found on different types of skin. She also adds (in another video), organic produce should also be washed — because even if pesticides weren't used, it was still exposed to plenty of dirt.

An U.S. Food and Drug Administration study published in 2012 found that 50 to 57 per cent of people were washing cantaloupes, while 96 per cent said they were likely to wash strawberries and tomatoes. The study also went into detail on how to wash produce properly, and revealed that over 40 per cent of people who washed strawberries simply held them under water, while 20 per cent either soaked them or used cleaners. Neither of these methods are considered particularly effective.

So what's the verdict with avocados? Watch the video above to find out.

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  • Avocados

    Thanks to their thick, scaly skin, the pesticides used on avocados don't make their way into the flesh we love in guacamole, in salads, or pretty much on anything.

  • Sweet Corn

    The husk of the corn keeps pesticide levels low. However, many proponents of clean eating note that GMO corn is not marked, and if that is a concern to you, buying organic for this product might be a good idea.

  • Pineapple

    Not a lot of pesticides are getting through the rather intense shell of the pineapple — heck, even we have difficult cutting in.

  • Mango

    You can buy non-organic mangos without a worry, but be sure to wash the fruit carefully before eating anyway.

  • Sweet Peas

    For the ambitious who love to shell their own peas, you can blissfully buy the non-organic sort (but for a shortcut in the kitchen, we definitely suggest the frozen kind).

  • Asparagus

    As asparagus doesn't attract many insects, fewer pesticides are used on the veggie, so feel free to pluck it from the non-organic aisle.

  • Kiwi

    That thick brown skin doesn't only work as a useful shell to keep from getting juice all over you, but also protects the delicious skin inside from pesticides.

  • Cabbage

    Although the leaves of cabbage can be used in full, the plant is not sprayed heavily with pesticides.

  • Eggplant

    Eggplant is actually one of the veggies with the higher percentage of pesticide on the 'clean' list, but if non-organic is your only option, you can feel fine buying eggplant grown conventionally.

  • Cantaloupe

    That's a hard shell cantaloupes boast, so non-organic is fine for this melon. To err on the side of caution, though, you might want to avoid cantaloupes from Mexico, where they can be heavily sprayed by pesticides.

  • Watermelon

    The same advice applies to watermelon — you aren't eating the rind (we hope), so pick one up wherever you'd like. Just be sure to wash the outside before cutting into it and eating.

  • Grapefruit

    A burst of citrus can be lovely at the beginning (or end) of your day, and rest assured you're fine to buy these thick-skinned fruits in the non-organic aisle.

  • Sweet Potato

    Though potatoes show up on the 'dirty dozen' list of what to buy organic, sweet potatoes actually have far fewer pesticides and are fine to buy non-organic.

  • Sweet Onions

    Thanks to their many layers of skin, onions (even the sweet kind) don't get attacked by pests, and therefore, aren't sprayed with as many pesticides.

  • Onions

    Just like their sweet cousins, the lack of pesticides on onions can be attributed to insects' disinterest. As a staple of so many cooked dishes, we're happy to report you can pick up onions anywhere.

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