Massive wildfires are part of the new norm in California and it's making gardeners concerned that smoke and ash are ruining their produce. One study conducted in Sonoma County indicates that the health benefits from eating produce outweigh the risks from contamination and identifies best practices for growing food in areas impacted by wildfires.
If you are concerned about wildfire ash on produce, wash well under running water before storing, cooking, canning or eating. For a more thorough cleaning, soak in a 10% white vinegar solution (e.g. one cup vinegar to nine cups water), which can lift soil particles off deeply veined leafy green vegetables and hairy fruits like peaches. Remove the outer leaves of lettuce or leafy greens and peel root crops before eating. Wash your hands before eating and handling food.
Check out these links for more information:
- Produce Safety after Urban Wildfire. This webpage by the University of California Cooperative Extension provides extensive information about the Post Fire Food Safety Community Science Study.
- Produce Safety after a Fire. This two page PDF is an overview of health risks and best practices for local food growers.