3 Grocery Finds That Prove a Little Dirt Don’t Hurt

(Image credit: The Library of Congress / Flickr)

Over the years spent working at the grocery store with Woody the Produce Guy, he shared his many opinions on various subjects; spending a few minutes a day with him in the produce room was always a learning experience. The guy taught me how to cook a beet (olive oil, salt, and pepper; wrapped in foil and thrown in the oven) and why Great Lakes berries are the best (blueberry bushes love sandy soil).

He has many a mantra, but the first I remember is dirt don’t hurt. Move over, Dirty Dozen — here are Woody’s Dirty Three.

Although Woody and his team spent hours cleaning and prepping produce daily, he explained why sometimes it’s okay to find a little dirt on your produce. His theory? A little soil is good for the gut. Another bonus? A little dirt means it’s supremely fresh.

Here are three grocery finds that really should have dirt on them — it’s a good sign. And when you get them home, here’s how to clean off that telltale, all-natural soil.

(Image credit: Guinta Produce)

3 Grocery Finds That Prove a Little Dirt Don’t Hurt

1. Leeks

Like the aforementioned blueberries, leeks thrive in sandy soil, and finding grainy remnants of its in-ground days tucked within its layers is inevitable.

  • To clean: Cut off the white end, and slice the stalk lengthwise. Run under water until the grains wash away.

2. Morels

Tuck this one away for spring. The dirtier the morel, the better. If you find a living creature inside, you’ve struck gold. These woodland mushrooms are best when they’re freshly plucked from the soil. For a grocer to scrub them clean is to risk breaking down the fragile walls.

  • To clean: Soak your mushrooms in salted water. It will kill any slugs — or other insects — living inside. Afterward, pat dry with a paper towel.

3. Fresh greens

Bagged salads should be cleaned and ready to go, but if your store carries fresh and local greens, you may find a remnant of dirt on there. Even if you don’t, it’s important to wash thoroughly to protect you (and your dinner guests) from food-borne illness.

  • To clean: Rinse or soak your greens with plain, cool water, “scrubbing” crevices with your hands or a vegetable brush.

Do you look for “dirty” produce at your grocery store? Do you find that it’s a sign of particularly good produce?