Food: The adulterated version – Supervision required!
In early June of 2015, India’s favourite 2-minute noodles was issued a ban after a sample was found to contain unhealthy levels of MSG and lead. A little over three years later, Maggi is back on the shelves, popular as always, the presence of harmful adulterants be damned. It’s true that Instant noodles aren’t the best food choice out there, and many people working towards a healthy lifestyle don’t consume packaged foods. So what about the fruits and vegetables we do consume in the name of better health?
The advertisements may show fruits freshly plucked from the trees, hand-grown vegetables dug up from the dirt, but the reality is quite different. By the time these so-called ‘healthy’ foods reach into our hands, they are laced with toxic chemicals. Be it our staple food – rice, or the nutritious milk that everyone from babies to the elderly consume, every item on our health menu is slowly entering the adulterated food list.
All those green veggies you consume get their envious colour from a dye called malachite which triggers stomach disorders. Fruits like apple get their shiny appearance from a coating of wax. Many fruits are artificially ripened using chemicals which induce a long list of health issues ranging from nausea, damage to the eyes and fluid build-up in the lungs. Milk products are sold by adding water and sometimes even detergent. Rice is often mixed with little stones and bits of plastic. Is anything healthy anymore?
Farmers use pesticides to protect their crops against insects, fungi, weeds, rodents, bacteria and mites. The pesticides used contain carcinogens and harmful chemicals like endosulfan (now a banned pesticide) which left long-lasting effects ranging from physical deformities to health complications and even death. The WHO estimates that around two million people are poisoned by pesticides every year.
Where does all of this lead the common man on his search for food to sustain himself? The food we eat is killing us. Slowly, over a long period of time, but it’s killing us nonetheless. Who are we to blame in this scenario? The farmers trying to meet the demand for vibrant, shiny and tasty food, or the consumers who let this blatant violation of health to happen?
Farmers owe it to society to produce food that is first and foremost ‘healthy’. Consumers need to understand that asking for shiny fruits and foods that always tastes good forces farmers to take extreme measures to offer the same, at a deadly trade-off.
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (1954) aims to bring back food that is healthy and safe for consumption. If you find your food adulterated or misbranded you can register a complaint with the National Consumer Helpline on 1800-11-4000 or you can visit their website.
The fight against food adulteration – What can we do?
1. Wash fruits, vegetables and grains thoroughly before consumption
2. Soak fruits and vegetables in salt water. The salt helps kill any bacteria present
3. Peel veggies and fruits to get rid of dirt filled with pesticides and fertilizers
If you know a local farmer, it’s best to get your daily supply of vegetables from them. Paying a little more money for organic food is better than paying a whole lot more to deal with the health issues that may crop up later on.
Author: Manju Athilat
Manju is our resident content writer. With a masters degree in biomedical engineering and a passion for healthcare, she authors content with a focus on living a healthy lifestyle and practicing preventive health.