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Chemicals are on your fruit and vegetables? I was shocked

Today I was searching for information on how to grow papaya. I came across what looked like a useful video. But as I got into it, I realised it was the recipe for chemical soaked papaya. Papaya grown in chemical fertilizers, sprayed heavily with pesticides and soaked in chemicals to ripen the fruit so that it looks the part on the shelf.

Initially I thought WTF - what a useless video! But then I realised something. This video showed me something really valuable, something that is usually hidden away. It gives a behind the scenes look at how conventional (non-organic) vegetables are grown. So why is this important?

Because everyone these days knows that pesticides are sprayed on food - but do nothing about it!

Conventional (non-organic) food still dominates our supermarket shelves. Thats because its way easier, cheaper and more convenient to do what you have always done and buy conventional fruit and vegetables from the supermarket. Especially because pesticides on your food don’t instantly make you sick.

Its out of sight and out of mind.

For some reason I think this is something you need to see with your own eyes before it really hits you and makes you do something about it. You need to see what a ‘bit of pesticide’ actually looks like in reality. 

See it for yourself..

I found this video to be a really good reminder of the purpose behind patchtotable.com - and why organic and nutritious food is so critical for good health. It had an impact on me, so I thought it might have an impact on others and spark action, which is why I decided to share it here.

Rather than watch the whole video, I have picked out the most relevant bits:

Papaya is a super food

The video starts off great and got me in. It talked about how Papaya is a superfood and is highly nutritious.

  • More vitamin C than oranges
  • improves digestion
  • helps to heal gastric ulcers
The golden tears tree

Papaya originated in Chile before it spread to the rest of the world. It then goes on to explain the folklore of how papaya came about:

  • A Spanish captain who arrived in Chile fell in love with the chiefs daughter
  • A jealous warrior killed the captain
  • The chiefs daughter shed so many tears - that trees began to grow which grew fruit in a teardrop shape
  • This fruit was called the golden tears tree - and became known as the fruit of good health.
Basic requirements for growing papaya

The video then steps through the basic requirements for growing papaya:

  • Soil with good drainage and a PH of 6-7
  • Temperature of 22 - 33 °C
  • 1,800mm rainfall / irrigation
  • Grown below 800m above sea level

Source: TvAgro

Growing ingredients

The key ingredients for a good crop of papaya:

  • Chemical fertilizers, 100-200g per day
  • Pesticides every 8 days to prevent mites and other pests
  • Spraying weeds around the papaya trees every month
Ripening Agent

A ripening agent (Maturant) is used before the papaya's are shipped. For this, the papayas are immersed in a mixture which accelerates the ripening of fruit. This allows the papayas to be picked prior to full ripening, which makes shipping easier without causing damage.

Source: TvAgro

Based on the milky colour of the water the papaya is soaked in, it is likely to be Ethephon, which is listed in the Pesticide Database as a Cholinesterase Inhibitor. This means its linked to impaired development of the nervous system (neurological development) during pregnancy and in infants, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Parkinson's disease. An organisation called Apple and Pear Australia states that Ethephon is one of the most widely used plant growth regulators in the world. Its used for apples, grapes, oranges, mandarins, pineapples, stonefruit, sugarcane, tomatoes, macadamias, olives, bananas, mangoes and barley to name a few. The use of Ethephon in this way has been reported as a problem in Vietnam and according to this article, Ethephon is approved for use on plants and not directly on fruit, as it contains substances that are toxic when consumed directly.

Video:

Papaya is a super food (0 mins and 20 seconds)

The golden tears tree (0 mins and 40 seconds)

Basic requirements for growing papaya (3 mins 30 seconds)

Growing ingredients: 

- Chemical fertilisers (8 mins 14 seconds)

- Pesticides (10 mins 30 seconds)

- Spraying weeds (11 mins 30 seconds)

Ripening Agent (14 mins)

Conclusion

This video is based in Columbia, but the chemicals used would be similar anywhere in the world. And while regulations are often stricter in Countries such as the USA and Australia, many of the frozen fruit and vegetables we eat come from all over the world - such as frozen mangoes and berries.

Now that you have an idea of what goes into growing conventional fruit and vegetables, you can no longer bury your head in the sand. It might just play enough in the back of your mind to start thinking about where your fruit and vegetables come from, how they were grown and maybe even encourage you to grow your own food. Growing your own food does take some effort and organic produce does cost extra. But when you look at all the hidden costs from health and environment impacts, I think the payback is pretty good.

Thoughts? - I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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