Photo courtsey-www.roamingtimes.comHeavy metals like lead in air coat the outer surfaces of green leafy vegetables, and then there are other contaminants which find their way into the vegetables through pesticides, polluted water etc. It is estimated that an average person consumes a whole lot of heavy metals, organochlorines and organophosphates and numerous potentially harmful parasites through vegetables. Initially I thought that this might be a problem more in developing countries as the required safety and hygiene standards, though in place, are not strictly implemented; but I was surprised by the information available on http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/hpg/envis/doc43.html. To quote from the article, ‘All together, FDA claims that only 3.1 percent of fruits and vegetables in American grocery stores contain illegal pesticides. However, the FORBIDDEN FRUIT report reveals, based on analysis of FDA's own monitoring data, that 5.6 percent -- or about one pound out of every 18 pounds of food on grocer's shelves--contains illegal pesticides. A person eating 5 fruits and vegetables a day will be eating illegal pesticides 75 times a year’.
Photo courtsey-www.shunya.netSurprising! Isn’t it? The situation has Pandemic proportions. Here in my part of the world problem is more serious. Besides the usual contaminants, sometimes the vegetables being sold by unscrupulous local vendors and shopkeepers are soaked in toxic dyes to give them a fresh and ‘healthy’ look. For e.g. Okra is coated with malachite green, a dye which has proven carcinogenic potential, red color is artificially injected inside water melons to beguile people about its sweetness(The problem is gradually decreasing in proportion due to opening up of supermarkets and retail chains, but in smaller cities roadside vendors are still the major provider of vegetables and fruits). Home grown vegetables besides being fresh, pesticide free and grown with relatively less or no chemical fertilizer are way tastier than those from the grocery store. In addition there is an element of satisfaction involved in eating veggies grown by one’s own sweat and toil. There is absolutely no need to have a big piece of land to grow your own vegetables; it can be done even in pots, buckets, drums, discarded motor tires, terraces etc. It is simply a question of a lot of will and a little imagination and one can enjoy the fruits..err.. vegetables of her labor! I especially loved the idea of using buckets to grow potatoes, when I first saw it on BLISS by Yolanda Elizabet. Same way, the concept of your own home grown vegetables and interesting recipes to make the veggies a gourmet delight by Calendula & Concrete, is admirable. Gardening, besides being a worthy passion, brings us closer to nature and is a healthy indulgence in more ways than one!