- Food and Cooking
Ways to prevent toxins in vegetables
In today’s world, all our vegetables are exposed to rain, sun, dust, diseases and pests. To keep their vegetables from being destroyed by pests and diseases, the farmers have no choice but to resort to using agricultural chemicals. However this gives rise to the problem of chemical residues in our vegetables. Hence, we need to really learn how to clean our vegetables well and to ensure these toxins are removed before consumption.
with saline water
Add some salt to the water, then wash your vegetable in the saline water. The water will help remove soil, dust and other impurities while the salt will kill pests such as insects, earthworms or tiny snails which will die and float to the water surface. In fact, the saline water can also help to prevent browning of light-colored vegetables such as brinjals.
with acidic water
To make the water acidic, add some lime juice or vinegar to the water. Washing your vegetables in acidic water will help to kill off some soil microorganisms which are unable to survive in acidic conditions. This can also help to retain the fresh look of some vegetables such as beansprouts and lettuce. Using an acid rinse for vegetables is specially suitable if you intend to eat your vegetables raw.
with commercial wash
There are available different types of commercial wash. There are vegetable-wash liquids that can help to remove chemical residues. There are also the vegetable sprays to prevent browning in vegetables and to maintain freshness and crispiness. Some vegetable sprays contain sulphur dioxide which is helpful in preventing browning. However those who are allergic to sulphur dioxide may encounter hives or stomachaches.
Commercial wash are definitely much more convenient to use however it is more economical to use home-made rinses which are just as effective.
- Blanching in hot water–
blanch the vegetables in hot water to further reduce the residues.
Note: Never use soap to clean the vegetables. Using soap will only introduce more contaminants to your vegetables.
- Limit use
There are three classifications of pesticides depending on what they kill – fungicide, herbicide and insecticide. All three contain poisonous chemicals and high concentrations of these chemicals can cause very serious health hazards. Hence, farmers have to be aware about these facts and to ensure that they follow very strictly to the low levels usage guidelines set by the governments in order to make the vegetables safe for consumption.
Some of these pesticides, which are contact poisons, can remain on the surface of the leaves after being sprayed. Some contact residues can be washed away but some cannot depending on the type of pesticide used, the levels of residue and the washing method.
Then there is the systematic pesticides that does into the plant after spraying and is hard to remove even after multiple washings. For such cases, farmers should only use systemic chemicals that has shorter active periods and should leave a grace period between the spraying time and the harvesting time to allow enough time for the chemical to break down.
Some of the ways to remove these chemical residues as much as possible are:
a. Soaking in water – soak the whole plant in water and rinse it with running water for as many times as possible. Avoid cutting the vegetables into small pieces to prevent the nutrients from leaching into the water.
b. Scrubbing with a brush – for melons or cucumbers, use a small brush to scrub the skin then wash thoroughly with water.
c. Throwing away outer leaves – for lettuces and cabbages, peel away the outer leaves and discard.