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Beware of Pesticides Residues In Your Food


By Sunil Kalra

First the good news, as they say. Yes, I am talking about pesticides used in food production today. Actually, it is a story that dates back two hundred years to early 19th century when the first artificially synthesized pesticides began to appear on the scene. But it is in the past hundred years or so that chemical pesticides became the darling of the agricultural community.

Nobody raised a finger, to question or seek answers to the long-term effects of the widespread use of these chemical agents. Because the results were too good to ignore. After the two world wars, nations of the world, faced with booming populations needed to produce ever larger quantities of food. And a major ingredient in the pursuit of happiness was food. Of course, in large tracts of Asia and Africa, ability to grow more food also meant being able to able to stay alive and not starve to death. Pesticides along with a whole host of modern practices were a key part of that transition from scarcity to plenty.

Now the bad news. By now you have probably guessed, where I am going with this; I am going to detail the damage it is doing to our individual health. I gave you a bit history to establish the fact that a lot of good came from their widespread usage in the past.It is time to pause and take stock. Maybe it was a case of too much of a good thing. Today, the world is awash with pesticides of all kinds, applied not just in an agricultural setting, but in pest control in homes to offices to public spaces. Data listing the top consuming countries are very telling. China today leads the pack with 1,763,000 followed by the US at 407,779, Canada at 90,839 and India at a distant thirteenth position with 52,750 tons in annual consumption.

I am listing just these three countries because they produce most of the food that we consume on a regular basis. To quote another study “More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and grapes tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides. Kale, collard, and mustard greens, as well as hot peppers and bell peppers, had the most pesticides detected, 103 and 101 pesticides in total, respectively.” 

Time to raise the buyer beware clause. Indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides is staining not only our daily foods, but it is impacting negatively on almost everything it comes into contact with. Let me quote from a recent article  in the Biological Diversity magazine: “The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the endocrine-disrupting pesticide atrazine and cancer-linked pesticide glyphosate are each likely to harm more than 1,000 of the nation’s most endangered plants and animals.” If you wish to read the full article, go to biologicaldiversity.org. The two chemical agents
mentioned constitute the bulk of the pesticides/herbicides currently in use.

Let me add to the horror with one more instance and stop. Environmental Science and Technology, a research journal, highlighted the results of a study that found the presence of over 100 different chemicals in U.S. pregnant women’s blood and umbilical cord samples with as yet unidentified health issues in the long term. So, if you know of anyone pregnant or planning to be pregnant, and (most of us know someone that fits the description!) tell them if they didn’t know already. Most young people actually know the dangers of chemicals in our food system. Unfortunately, only a smaller percentage of them are incentivized to change track and embrace the healthier alternative.

Now I will turn a bit selfish and raise the slogan ‘go organic’ wherever and whenever you can. I am being selfish because the more people buy organic, obviously, it is better for Bloom’s bottom line. But I would dare to say it is even better for your own health and happiness. However much you wash, peel or trim, you are not going to completely get rid of these pesky molecules that stay hidden deep inside these vegetable, fruits and grains and pulses. Though it does help reduce somewhat the presence of harmful chemicals.

Switching to an all-organic regime overnight may not be practical for everyone. It is matter of taste, access, affordability etc. Just like someone taking the first steps in an exercise program that is designed to make you fit, start small. Don’t begin with the triathlon, start by brisk walking. When translated into organic living terms, start with the most affordable, and consider replacing the food that you most consume, like a staple - rice, wheat flour, or pulses - with organic substitutes. Make small changes that will lead you to big gains later.

The benefits may not be immediately visible. It is not like taking a pill to get rid of your headache. There is nothing instant about organic living. You just do it as a good habit and good habits always lead to good outcomes. I have already told you in an earlier blog how it changed my own life. I would like to hear from you your stories. Let your stories too inspire and help others. Till we meet again, be kind to your body, eat healthy.

Sunil Kalra is the CEO of Bloom Organic Bazaar.






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