I will admit – in the US I did not wash my vegetables.
I would maybe rinse them before use but I’ve since learned that that only removes the visible soil. Tap water doesn’t kill bacteria.
It’s a different story in Mexico, especially when shopping in the open market. It is likely that your US vegetables were not laying on the street just before they were put into bins, which you now have your hands in, looking for the perfect tomato.
Everyone – locals and visitors – all wash their food.
A common disinfectant that can be purchased in almost any store selling food is Microdyn. The same disinfectant solution may be used many times over, since ionized silver, the active ingredient in Microdyn, does not break down or get used up with successive soakings.
Different sizes have different concentrations – the smallest bottle is the strongest. Use the recommended number of drops in a bucket of water. Place your items in the water and soak for 10-15 minutes. The solution does not need to be rinsed off, dry on a clean towel.
All vegetables and herbs must be soaked. Mushrooms and strawberries can become water logged if soaked, so it’s best to use a spray for these. Strawberries are particularly important to clean.
I don’t buy fruit or vegetables that have been cut in half because of cross contamination from the knife. I wouldn’t want to soak half of a watermelon, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t taste the same.
I make it a point to disinfect everything when I come home from shopping – that way I know that whatever I’m grabbing to cook is clean. True, if I’m going to cook the food, its likely to kill any bacteria but there are times when I just ‘lightly’ sauté my vegetables – and there is no sure way of knowing if that bacteria is dead.
You can also purify your water by adding the Microdyne – which can be helpful if you’re planning to travel to parts of Mexico that don’t have a purification plant.