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MOUTHING OFF

Throwing a Fit: Call me crazy, but it seems to me that instead of paying for a product to remove pesticides and wax from our produce, consumers instead should be supporting our local organic-produce farmers.

The product is called Fit Produce Rinse, and it's being tested only in Denver right now, presumably because we're in a health-conscious state of mind.

I have two major problems with this fruit and vegetable wash: 1. It's expensive. 2. It doesn't do much about the chemicals absorbed by any fruit or vegetable that lacks a thick skin.

The cost factor is particularly annoying. I bought a 26-ounce bottle of Fit at King Soopers for $2.99. In the course of a day, I used half of it: one ounce for two pounds of broccoli and eleven ounces for one head of green leaf lettuce, two tomatoes, one bunch of radishes, one cucumber, one zucchini, one small bunch of grapes and three apples, which was enough for three people to consume in a day. Granted, we're a pretty vegetable-oriented family, but this could get ugly, costwise.

And it's not always necessary. King Soopers currently offers organic broccoli, among other produce, for the same price as chemically treated. Alfalfa's always has lots of organic stuff, although it can be a bit pricey. But it's pricey--as spokesmen for Safeway, Albertson's and Cub Foods (which don't carry organic produce) all admit--because it's not supported.

"If people don't buy it, then the growers can't make enough money to buy the equipment that the big guys use. Since the produce can't be processed as quickly and easily without up-to-date techniques, we hesitate to take it on for such a small percentage of the public," the produce guy at Cub Foods said.

As far as how well Fit works, it's impossible to gauge in the home kitchen. The company claims that it removes "up to" 90 percent of unwanted surface residues but admits that it averages 70 percent. Which means that sometimes it removes only 50 percent, which, according to the company, is only 15 percent more than plain water removes. (They didn't calculate that out for you; I did.) And the company claim that it makes produce look better holds true only until you cook it, according to our home tests.

The bottom line: If you buy this rinse, you are only helping to assuage the symptoms, not cure the disease.

Creme of the crop: As always, I came out of a recent foray into the Junior League of Denver's estimable Creme de Colorado cookbook with a few winners--namely, the smoked-oyster log and the mussels with garlic, basil and tomatoes. Although I prefer this book to the League's Colorado Cache because of its inclusion of beautiful photographs from throughout the state, the recipes in both are easy to follow, deceptively complex-tasting and are for things you'd actually want to make. I'm looking forward to the next edition, which will come out in fall 1995.

Wine news: Tante Louise will feature Colorado's Plum Creek Cellars at its next wine dinner, on Thursday, September 29. The cost is $50 for six wines and five courses. Call 355-4488.

 
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