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Here’s why you should disinfect fruits and vegetables before consuming them

As the number of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases surge across the world, people are paying greater attention to their health and what they are putting in their bodies not only to boost their immunity but also to lead longer lives. Any fitness magazine or doctor you consult will always offer one health advice which is to consume as many fresh vegetables and fruits as you can. There are several health benefits associated with consuming fresh fruits and vegetables. For starters, they are a good source of vitamins and minerals like potassium, vitamin C, and folate. Being rich in dietary fibre, their regular consumption can reduce your chances of developing ailments like bowel cancer and heart diseases, and they are also helpful in weight loss.

Fruits and Vegetables, Image credit:

At the same time, the excessive use of pesticides in agricultural practices worldwide has been a cause of dwindling health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Pesticides can trigger short-term as well as chronic side-effects in humans due to years of exposure. For instance, the acute side-effects of pesticides include stinging eyes, nausea, diarrhoea, and blisters. On the other hand, exposure to pesticides can also result in chronic conditions like birth defects, cancers, neurological toxicity, reproductive problems, and disruption in one’s endocrine system. Pesticides are known to weaken a person’s immunity, which in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak is a huge concern. Medical experts have maintained that people with pre-existing conditions or co-morbidities like diabetes and lung ailments are more susceptible to Covid-19 than those who are not.

To promote the reduction in the use of pesticides in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have developed the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management. The guidelines set parameters for use of pesticides in farming and are meant for civil society, private sector enterprises and other stakeholders. The guidelines promote best practices in the management of pesticides, right from their production to their disposal.

Given how harmful pesticides are to your health, you must disinfect and sanitize fruits and vegetables before consuming them. It also helps in protecting against any harmful bacteria and viruses that maybe inhabiting the food items. One of the oldest and effective ways to disinfect your fruits and vegetables is to wash them with water. That being said, this trick also has a drawback as it often leads to water wastage. If you are worried about the water that you might be wasting by simply putting them under running water, rest assured that there are some eco-friendly ways to do the same task. Here are some eco-friendly ways to disinfect your vegetables:

  • Cold and running water: This is the most common method of cleaning your greens. Put them under cold and running water and wash them. If the fruits and vegetables are firm, you can remove the dirt by rubbing them. Repeat the process, till you are satisfied. For leafy greens like spinach and lettuce, soak them in a bowl of water for a few minutes and then rinse them.
  • Solution of vinegar and water: You can also prepare a mixture using 10% white vinegar and 90% water to disinfect your fruits and vegetables. Soak the greens in the mixture for over 20 minutes and then wash them with regular water.
  • Salt/baking soda solution: Another way to rid fruits and vegetables of chemicals is to soak them in a solution of water and soda or baking soda. The solution can be prepared by mixing a teaspoon of soda/baking soda in a litre of water. While vegetables can be soaked for two to three minutes, remember to soak fruits for at least 30 minutes as they take longer to disinfect.
  • Blanching: In this method, you soak the fresh produce in hot water for over three minutes and then immediately put it in cold water.
  • DIY vegetable spray: You can also make your own organic spray to disinfect your fruits and vegetables. All you need for this spray is a cup of water, a tablespoon of lemon juice and two tablespoons of white vinegar. Mix these ingredients and store them in a non-plastic container. Smear the solution on fruits and vegetables using your hands and then wash them with water.

Apart from these eco-friendly ways, you can also buy a host of appliances available in the market especially for disinfecting fruits and vegetables. For example, ozonisers are very effective in removing pollutants and pesticides from not just fresh produce but water as well. Prestige’s Clean Home Ozonizer POZ 1.0 uses ozone purification technology to rid fruits and vegetables of pollutants and chemicals, without stripping them of nutrients. This ozoniser also deodorizes meat and seafood. 

Ultrasonic cleaners are another alternative that you can use to wash fruits and vegetables at home. Their inner body is usually made of stainless steel and is preferred as they can remove chemicals even from hard-to-reach places on a fruit or vegetable’s surface. For those looking for Indian brands, Kent’s Tabletop Vegetable Disinfectant is a great choice. The device uses ozone disinfection technology to remove bacteria, germs and other toxins from fresh produce.

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