The Hush Post: Doctors stress on eating a lot of green vegetables and fruits at every age. We do, also. Since these two kind of foods are raw, straight from the trees, bushes or from under the soil, we are always suspicious of how safe it is to consume them.
Bacteria can get onto fruit and vegetables in several ways. They may be present in water used for irrigation, organic fertilisers, or droppings from birds and other animals that go into fields.
From preparation to storage time, there are opportunities for contaminants, especially bacteria, to live on your vegetables.
High levels of chemicals and pesticides can be really toxic and can cause danger to human health by causing damage to the nervous and reproductive systems, cancer, birth defects and compromise our immunity.
To set your worries to rest, let us just go through this list of do’s and dont’s to make our veggies and fruits as contamination- free as possible.
Never wash your vegetable or fruit after cutting or chopping it. They lose their vitamins and minerals and will also spread contaminants from the surface to the inside, if any.
Washing will help remove bacteria, including Escherichia coli, from the surface of fruit and vegetables, but will not help get rid of pesticides and other chemicals sprayed on it. There is no sure-shot way of getting anything ‘100 % organic’ in the market, unless marked so, and that surely will burn a hole in your pocket.
The best way to wash fruits and vegetables is to keep your vegetables soaked in a solution of 10 % vinegar, 1teaspoon cooking soda and 90 % water for at least half an hour before starting to wash them. This will ensure that the content of pesticide, insecticide, inorganic fertilisers are reduced from the surface of the vegetables.
You can keep your fruits and vegetables in warm water for a short while which can help remove pesticides and chemicals, and then peel.
Washing raw fruits and veggies with potassium permanganate solution: Mix enough Potassium Permanganate (just a speck) in water to give it a light pink colour. Soak fruits and vegetables in this for 1-2 minutes and rinse well. This will effectively remove pesticides, bacteria and other pests. Too much potassium permanganate can be harmful, so be careful that the water is just light pink tinted and not dark. Rinse with fresh water.
Most of the bacteria will be in the soil attached to the produce. When you wash vegetables, wash them under a running tap and rub them intensely if they have a hard surface like potatoes, apples, pears, etc. Wash them thoroughly, dry them with towel and then store them (not potatoes, only wash them when you need them), children at home might just not wait to wash them and then eat them.
But while washing fruits with thin peel and berries, grapes, cherries, etc, wash them only ‘just before you eat them’. A good rinse just before eating them is best. Moisture can encourage bacterial growth.
If your veggies are soiled, like carrots, radish, turnip, beet root, start with the least soiled part and then go to the more soiled part. Don’t forget to give them a final rinse.
Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw food, including vegetables. Clean knives, peelers and other utensils thoroughly after using them with raw food or wash these items thoroughly in between uses.
Try and keep separate chopping boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods,
Be more careful before consuming fruits and vegetables like grapes, guava, apple, mangoes, peaches, tomatoes, brinjal, cauliflower as they might carry more chemicals and pesticides.
Handling non-veg food
- Store raw meat in sealable containers at the bottom of the fridge so that it does not drip onto other foods
- Do not over-wash raw meat and poultry, any harmful bacteria will be killed by thorough cooking, washing may splash harmful bacteria around the kitchen
- Use potassium permanganate solution to disinfect it as mentioned above