Unseasonal Fruits And Vegetables Flood Guwahati Markets
Gone are the days when the local market was filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables only. Today, the bounty of produce in the vegetable markets of Guwahati includes broccoli in the month of July and watermelon in the month of December. Basically, you can have any food at any time!
“Earlier, we used to wait for winter season to eat vegetables like mustard green (sarso saag) and coriander (dhaniya), but now these leafy vegetables are available in the market round the year. It might be due to the advancements in technology which also explains the sharp rise in prices of fruits and vegetables,” exclaimed Mitali Gogoi Dutta, a Guwahati-based food blogger and Assamese food expert.
Speaking to G Plus about the availability of unseasonal food products in the market, LR Nampui, food safety official of Kamrup (M) said, “The foods that are available to us round the year are made available through various processes like cold storage and cannot be compared to freshly produced food items.”
Off-season foods have to travel much longer as compared to seasonal fruits and vegetables - well over 1,000 kilometres - to reach the local markets. This leads to higher amounts of wax coatings, preservatives and ripening agents in order to make them look fresh and healthy.
Nampui informed G Plus that there are a number of cold storages set up in and around Guwahati where vegetables like potatoes are preserved for as long as 6-8 months. He added that foods are also being made available in the market through vertical farming and cross-breeding.
While many people enjoy consuming fruits and vegetables all year round, others only enjoy fresh seasonal produce. However, unseasonal food items come with side effects.
“Everything has a limited life span, including fruits and vegetables. If you try to preserve them for longer than usual, they are bound to lose nutritional value and develop bacteria and fungus. Such food items, when consumed, have harmful effects on health. Some of the side effects of unseasonal fruits and vegetables are diarrhea, vomiting and food poisoning,” informed Dr Ganesh Saikia, Joint Director of Health Services.
Speaking about preserving food using cold storage, Saikia said, “Cold storages essentially have a temperature of 2-8 degrees to save the food items from rotting. However, even in cold storage, edible items should only be kept for a limited time.”
Hence, while it may seem like a luxury to have any food we want, anytime we want it, eating foods in season offers many benefits. It provides more nutrients, reduces chemical exposure and most of all, saves money as the sellers charge exorbitant amounts for unseasonal food items owing to its dearth in the market.
“Cold storages essentially have a temperature of 2-8 degrees. However, even in cold storage, edible items should only be kept for a limited time,” Dr Ganesh Saikia, Joint Director of Health Services.
FSSAI, SPHL tightening noose around adulterated food
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) along with the State Public Health Laboratory (SPHL) is tightening the noose around unhealthy and adulterated food in the city. In an effort to improve the quality of food being sold in the market, the food safety regulators have been carrying out regular drives in Guwahati.
Regular drives are being conducted against adulterated food items in the city. Be it mangoes, watermelons, oranges, milk or water, officials are checking the edibles for harmful chemicals and destroying them on the spot if found adulterated. Officials have also served closure notices to restaurants, sweet shops and arrested vegetable, fruit sellers for selling chemically treated products.
“We have been conducting regular drives in Guwahati. It has been observed that certain chemicals like carbide are used in fruits to artificially ripen them. However, we haven’t yet observed the use of chemicals in fruits that had been infused to preserve them,” informed LR Nampui, food safety official of Kamrup (M).
He added that such drives will continue and if a person is found to be selling substandard food items or those that have adulterants added (so as to render it injurious for human consumption), he/she shall be punished.