Eat this, not that!

Eat this, not that!

You may be tempted to buy a rather bright-looking orange, juicy watermelon or an apple that looks more red than normal. But all this could be misleading when you notice that what you buy gets spoilt in no time. Thanks to food adulteration and the growing danger of artificial ripening, fruits and vegetables don’t have a long shelf life.

   It is difficult to monitor food adulteration, concede food experts with the Horticulture Department. Fruits and vegetables sold in the open always face the danger of adulteration. Those who are in the business of selling fruits and vegetables, say that they can tell the quality just by looking at the product. Mohammed Idrees Choudhary, general secretary, Russell Market Traders Association, informs that most fruits and vegetables that come into the market get sold in a day’s time. “There will be bulk orders from hotels. We always check for spoilt products and discard them immediately,” he says. 

Mohammed concedes that artificial colouring is still persistant. “Artificial colouring is used on peeled vegetables, especially peas and beans. People complain of colour getting drained from the vegetables when they are washed. This is common in malls but at the market, we ensure that the vegetables are peeled and packed by us,” he explains. Mohammed further states that an artificial wax is coated on imported fruits and vegetables. “The wax is used to keep the fruits from getting spoilt. It is also safe to consume it,” he adds. 

Keshav, manager procurement and markets for Hopcoms across the State, says that they distribute and sell the products of about 25,000 farmers from across the State. “We advise farmers to use only those pesticides that have been recommended by us. These do not have any side effects. We also test the product for contamination before it is kept at the stalls for sale,” he informs. Chandru, a Hopcoms’ dealer near Brigade Road, says, “The fruits and vegetables at Hopcoms may be expensive but they are checked for quality. From experience, we can distinguish between the good and bad products.” 

Sharing an insight into the process of fruit ripening, V Nachegowda, College of Horticulture, informs that earlier, farmers would use calcium carbide to ripen fruits and vegetables but now that has been banned. “Ethylene is permitted and used as an agent in the fruit and vegetable ripening process. There are ripening chambers in the City for mangoes and bananas,” he assures. But he says that there are no testing units in the City that check for food adulteration.    
 Nutritionists feel it is always safer to buy fruits and vegetables directly from the vendors. Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Clinical Nutritionist and Head, Nutrition and Dietetics, Apollo Hospitals, says, “It is safe to consume seasonal fruits and vegetables. Fruits must be thoroughly washed before they are consumed. When you chop the vegetables and fruits, look out for worms and discolouration. Adulterated fruits and vegetables could trigger severe stomach infections especially when they are not cooked,” Priyanka informs. When asked if the wax coated on most apples is safe to consume, Priyanka says, “We are not sure of the composition of the wax but it is unfit for human consumption. Wax should never be consumed.”   

Thanks to a lot of awareness on fruit and vegetable adulteration, people have begun to choose where to buy fruits and vegetables. Amit, a tax advisor, makes sure he buys vegetables directly from the wholesale vendors, “We buy it at source (farmers) because we are assured of good quality with no contamination.” Mallik, a medical practitioner, says, “The malls charge a huge amount and vendors too do their own thing to artificially increase the weight of the product. It is best to buy at markets you are familiar with.” 

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