It is quite possible that the vegetables you and I buy from the local sabzi mandi, are laced with pesticides. Consumers are increasingly becoming concerned that these harmful chemicals are present in a worryingly high dose. Before cutting or cooking any vegetable, we are taught to thoroughly wash them with tap water, so that these chemicals get washed away, making the vegetable safe for consumption.
However, a study conducted by Sudhakar S Kelagiri, a student of the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTASU) in Hyderabad found that tap water was ineffective in ridding the vegetable of excess pesticide residue.
The New India Express (TNIE) reports that he has reportedly found a more effective method which can be used to clean vegetables at home.
In the study, published in the Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies, Sudhakar found that tap water was only 17-39% effective in ridding vegetables of pesticide residue. In comparison, mixing 160 ml of acetic acid (commonly found in vinegar or bought over the counter) with 4gms of baking soda and lemon juice from 4 lemons in 4 litres of water, followed by washing the vegetables with tap water could reduce the amount of pesticide residue in vegetables by 55-76%.
Titled ‘Veggy wash,’ this formula for washing vegetables was developed by the All India Network Project on Pesticide Residues at PJTSAU.
“The effectiveness of Veggy wash was checked on five pesticides—Dimethoate, lambda-Cyhalothrin, Flubendiamide, and Profenophos which are widely used by farmers on the tomato, a vegetable that finds high usage in Indian cooking as well as in salads for raw consumption. While the tomato was the main focus of the published study, these five pesticides find wide usage in other vegetables as well,” reported TNIE.
One major pesticide, Profenofos, which is used in a variety of vegetables, is listed as ‘moderatley hazardous’ by the World Health Organization, while the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee, a body under the Government of India, has not recommended its use.