Beware of chemically treated food and kitchenware

Beware of chemically treated food and kitchenware
Recently, thousands of mangoes were destroyed by the food and drug administration (FDA) in Maharashtra. Reason? These mangoes were artificially ripened by the usage of a chemical called calcium carbide. Even though banned, this chemical can be found being sold near every fruit market. It is sold in the form of a powder. To use it, the trader places the powder in brown paper bags, and puts these bags in the mango crates. The chemical reaction leads to an increase in heat in the crate, leading to the untimely ripening of the mangoes.

Calcium carbide is harmful to human health, and yet is used with impunity. Vendors say they have been using them for years and cannot understand the furore against its usage suddenly. The European markets are not keen on importing mangoes from India because of the usage of this and other such chemicals.

Our grandparents and great grandparents didn’t have chemically treated food and chemically enhanced kitchenware, therefore, their diets and cooking practices exposed them to fewer toxic hazards. Because of the immense demand for more and more food, farmers and factories resort to any method to satisfy this demand. Pesticides are sprayed on plants, antibiotics are used on chickens and hormones are injected into cattle. All of these contaminants become a part of our bodies.

We need to be aware of not just the effect of these chemicals on our food, but on our health as well. The containers they are stored in can also leach chemicals into the food products. Bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical known to increase the risk for breast cancer, can be found in reusable plastic food containers and even in the lining of beverage cans. Phthalates, endocrine disruptors, which lead to early puberty in girls, can also be found in some plastic food containers. Styrene can leach from food containers made of Styrofoam too. These are commonly used to store eggs and also used as disposable carry out containers. Styrene is thought to be carcinogenic.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), six years ago, more than 51,900 infants and children in China were hospitalised for urinary problems, possible renal tube blockages and possible kidney stones related to the consumption of melamine contaminated infant formula and related dairy products. Six deaths among infants have been confirmed in mainland China. Countries have also reported finding melamine in milk containing products, dairy and non-dairy products manufactured in China.

Melamine is an industrially synthesised chemical used for a wide variety of applications, such as laminates, coatings and plastics. Melamine coated plates, mostly manufactured in China, have flooded the Indian market in the past few years. They are brightly coloured and so cheap, and as a result, they are picked up in the droves by customers. In case you or your friends have them, throw them away. They can be very harmful to your health.

The WHO says that human exposure to chemicals at toxic levels are known or suspected to be involved in causing cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney and liver dysfunction, hormonal imbalance, reproductive disorders, birth defects, premature births, immune system suppression, musculoskeletal disease, impeded nervous and sensory system development, mental health problems, urogenital disease, old-age dementia, and learning disabilities.

Whew! That’s a long list. So be careful of what you eat, and also what you eat it in. And don’t forget to try out this smoothie, which is alkaline and awesome.

Green Power Smoothie

Ingredients: 1 cucumber, 3 kale or spinach leaves, handful of fresh mint, handful of fresh parsley, half inch piece fresh ginger, 1 avocado, 1 cup coconut water, Juice of one lemon, 1 tsp of agave

Method: Wash everything, chop and place all ingredients into a blender. Blend till absolutely smooth. Dilute if necessary and enjoy the healing powers of this drink.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

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