My vegetable garden was recently flooded. Can I eat the vegetables?

Question: 

My vegetable garden was recently flooded. Can I eat the vegetables?

Answer: 

Some fruits and vegetables are more susceptible than others to bacterial contamination.  Leafy vegetables (such as lettuce, cabbage, mustard, kale, collards, spinach, and Swiss Chard), fleshy vegetables (such as tomatoes, summer squash, and peppers), and berry fruits (such as strawberries) are highly susceptible to bacterial contamination.  Silt and other contaminants may be embedded in the leaves, petioles, stems, or other natural openings of fleshy structures and can be difficult to remove.  Do not use leafy and fleshy vegetables if they mature when flooded.  In the case of strawberries, do not use any fruit that is set on, regardless of maturity. 

Root crops (such as beets, carrots, and potatoes) are less susceptible to bacterial contamination.  Scrub, peel, and cook them before eating.  Because radishes and green onions are not cooked, they should not be used.  Green onions can be left to grow into mature bulbs for later use. 

Vegetables with a protective shell, skin, or husk (such as peas, winter squash, and sweet corn) should be washed thoroughly before the protective structures are removed.  After removing the shells, skins, or husks, cook before eating. 

In general, fruits and vegetables that were immature at the time of flooding should be safe to eat by the time they are ready to harvest.  This would include vegetables in the blossom or pre-blossom stage.  For additional safety, wash thoroughly and cook before eating. 

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