Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Eating Raw Foods in China

I'm currently living and working in Shenzhen, China, trying to eat at least 50% raw foods. I've been here for several weeks now, but my first week here I became very sick:
mmm... raw pumpkin seeds

Either I caught a virus, I accidentally threw some bad strawberries into a smoothie or I didn't wash my raw produce sufficiently. I have since learned that, because of minimal pesticide regulation, extra precaution is very important when it comes to washing your produce in China. Here are a few things I've learned so far, and I haven't been sick since (fingers crossed)!

1) Foods with skins are safe (as long as you don't eat the skins) - bananas, mangoes, pineapples, kiwis, grapefruits, oranges and cucumbers are some of the many prevalent and affordable fruits with skins here. Avocados aren't as common out here so they are more expensive ($3 each or 18 RMB).

2) In larger cities, some stores sell Chinese "organic" greens. Purchase them when possible - International stores such as Jusco (a Japanese chain), Ole, Metro, Sam's Club and others can be found in bigger cities in China. These types of stores often carry imported produce and "organic" Chinese produce. I've talked with some locals here who eat salads on a daily basis, and they told me they get their produce from some of the above stores.

3) Wash thoroughly. I recently received some valuable produce washing tips from some locals:
  • Individually wash each fruit and vegetable under water, gently "scrubbing" by hand. 
  • Place into a bowl of salt water for 5 minutes. 
  • Rinse everything again. 
  • Dry everything with towel, as water is sometimes contaminated as well 
  • Enjoy your raw produce
The above steps have worked out well for me. However, if you're still afraid, you can also blanch (lightly boil) any of the fruits or vegetables that don't have skins. 

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