Urban Leaves India: September 2012

Thursday 6 September 2012

How Safe Is Our Food?

Part 1: Introduction - Read Full Article
Part 2: Pesticides - Some Definitions - Read Full Article
Part 3 : Pesticides in Indian Agriculture and Food - Read Full Article

Part 4 : Some Common Pesticides Used In Our Favourite Vegetables

In this last and final part of our series on Pesticides, let us put ourselves to a simple test. And not to worry - you will be answerable to none other than your own conscience.

Below are a few images of the vegetables as you would encounter in the market. What would you choose? Take your pick – and choose wisely.


For it is our choice unfortunately that has been skewed by the Green revolution – the phase when food grown using chemical inputs was shown to us to be bigger and therefore better, healthier. 

Are we still following the same criteria for judgment when we go out to shop for our fruits and vegetables? Do we still think that the bigger the better; the more uniform the better;

Do we still equate wittedness’ to staleness?
As a personal experience, we have found that organically grown vegetable shows signs of limping & wilt sooner than those grown with chemical additives. The logic probably is similar to having fresh fruit juice after a few hours which develops an off taste as compared to fruit squashes to which chemical preservatives have been added.
And while we still come to terms with our habituated choices, let us also dabble a bit into statistics. 
Most people often get carried away with statistics and cite statistical examples as evidence for their beliefs.
But statistics can be as misleading as percentages.

For instance – as per statisticians, the average depth of River Narmada is 13 feet. So is it safe to believe that nobody can ever ‘sink’ in the Narmada – even at the mouth…..
Similarly, if the govt. claims that the pesticide residues tested on each vegetable are well within permissible limits, does this mean that it will not affect any of us in any which way? And individually if each vegetable has a certain pesticide ‘well within permissible limits’ – so to say; what happens when we have a complete meal comprising of certain salads, a variety of vegetables and cereals and pulses, each being individually sprayed with certain pesticides?
10 items each having a residue of 0.01% - which is the prescribed norm – cumulatively add up to approximately 0.1% per meal. And for two meals + breakfast + snacks will mean we are consuming nearly 0.2% of toxins per day as against the stipulated 0.01% per day. 
And understanding this in perspective of the previous articles where we learnt of Bio- accumulation and Bio-magnification, what ghastly possibilities conjure up?

All this with an assumption that what the manufacturing companies are writing and the govt. testing agencies are saying is the whole truth.


Read further for some horrifying facts…