Once I was cooking dinner with a Dutch friend at my place. We were making different dishes, and I got the easy stuff: a salad, plenty of vegetables like tomatoes, spinach and courgettes.
So I was committed to making some great food, and placed my veggies next to the sink, ready to wash them. When my friend looked over, she screamed so loud that she scared me. She couldn´t believe I was using soap instead of only water.
I got the same surprise again later, with two friends from Catalonia and France. We were going to have dinner as well, and when I started washing the potatoes using a brush they were outraged. They were even more concerned about the chemicals that the soap might contain and that could be ‘absorbed’ in those 30 seconds between adding the soap to the potato and rinsing it off with water again.
I realized that this is probably a Dutch/European and even maybe a developed country thing. In Mexico we always wash vegetables with soap and a little water, if any. But here people don´t need to rinse off the vegetables, because they are already washed and even packaged. They don´t have to add soap to kill bacteria, or to peel the fruits, or to disinfect some vegetables after washing. They don’t even dry the dishes after washing, simply because the tap water is safe for human consumption, unlike where I come from. At future dinners in the Netherlands I won´t add any soap to the washing process: I don´t want to be responsible for another heart attack.
Pedro Godinez-Martinez, Mexican MSc student Organic Agriculture.