Are We Really Eating It Right? [Chemicals In Our Daily Foods]

Posted on September 24, 2011 in Health and Life

By Kriti Pal:

Not many of us know that there’s a variety of potentially harmful chemicals and toxins in the food we eat. Yes, that’s right. There can be a high level of fatal chemicals like Saccharin (an artificial sweetener known to cause cancer), Carrageenan (used in variety of foods and cosmetics, again, cancer inducing), Nitrates and nitrites (found primarily in processed meats, combine with stomach acids and chemicals in foods to form nitrosamines, which are powerful carcinogens).

The ways in which these chemicals enter our food can be stated thus:

  1. Because of being widespread in our environment, also owing to the climate that pertains in most of the parts of India, they may enter the food through natural means which includes already being present in the plants and animals we eat. Dioxins, for example.
  2. Components that might come in contact with the food, like the containers/packaging material, etc.
  3. Chemicals that form during processing of food.
  4. The ones used for farming. Pesticides, veterinary medicines which might even remain in our food as we eat it.
  5. Additives that are deliberately added to food, such as flavors, colors, preservatives, etc.
  6. Additives are deliberately added to food in order to provide some useful purpose, such as preservatives, flavors, etc.
  7. Chemicals may be produced by moulds which contaminate crops during storage, such as aflatoxins.

But, a major part of the chemicals that are found in fruits on a daily basis are the ones put in there deliberately. A perfectly horticulture practice defines the process of inducing unripe fruits to ripen by adopting various techniques. Various techniques are being experimented and evolved by the fruit growers and sellers to ripen fruits. This has been practiced for centuries and serious concerns are being expressed for the safety from some of them. There is certainly nothing wrong or unethical with this practice if done in proper sense. The ideal way to ripen the fruits is to keep them in containers, open or packed, and let them ripen. As it is seen, the process is great for home use and not on the commercial scale. This issue has become a cause of concern because nowadays a lot of the fruits and vegetables are not ripened by natural processes.

A variety of chemicals are used in this process but the ones that are used majorly are calcium carbide and 2-chloroethyl phosphonic acid, as a recent discovery indicates. These days the process is used widely by the Indian farmers and even vendors for ripening mangoes. Their use to ripen other fruits and vegetables to make them seem healthy is a well known fact. Even the FDA has not done much to ensure 100% precaution for the same. This known burden due to chemicals is considerable. With the advent of pesticides, going for organic food cannot be sighted as a perfect option as well. This concern needs to be expressed and acted upon soon. At least before we see fatal diseases spreading like wildfire due to the ignorance we show towards this issue.