Are you eating safe?

Posted on Jul 17, 2014 in The Seattle Globalist. To find the Main article, Click THIS LINK


I was walking in a street of Dhaka. I saw a vendor with some berries. They were looking delicious. But suddenly a thought came to my mind; I had read an article about the formaldehyde-a chemical used for keeping foods for a certain time. After staying in Seattle for 5 weeks, every day I have gone to the District Market and take organic apples and thinking if I have them in Dhaka.

“I take an organic banana every day,” says Michael Levkowitz, a University of Washington student. 25% of his daily food items are organic. “As I cannot afford to buy organics every day I farm some vegetables,” says Meredith, a student of International Agriculture.

So what is organic food? And why does it matter?

According to Huffington Post, Newcastle University study said, organic foods have more anti-oxidants-(It’s a type of vitamin) they are grown up with less pesticide. The term organic means the way agricultural products are grown and produced. Beyond eating more fruits, vegetables, there is a question of food safety. Organic foods are grown up with natural fertilizers. Pesticides also controlled naturally. But just because organic food is available in Seattle—it doesn’t mean everyone can access it.

People here like organic foods more. Kailyn a student from Seattle said that 50% of her daily foods are organic. But most people like young students said as organics are more expensive so they do not try it.

Regular fruits: may I or may not I?
“I live happily off wholesale organic thinks stocked up from cheapest locations. But if it’s already foreign and affordable just as inorganic, I buy whichever is best by the situation”, another UW student Charles Warner said.  Organic foods are often more expensive than the conventionally grown food. Farmers and vendors tell that organic things take more time and effort. Many students of UW and other international students think so. And the price isn’t the only concern; some consumers worry the organic label doesn’t do enough.

I’m going home in 2 wks. How can this new knowledge help me eat more healthily on the streets of Dhaka. “What should I eat? If I take beef it might be contaminated with some vaccines for the cow. And the dairy farms would tell they just use the vaccine only to grow their cows up. How come?” said Mitu, a student from the University of Dhaka. Not only meat but also fish, fruits, vegetables all of them are contaminated. Their fertilizers and pesticides contaminate some of them. Some of them are contaminated when they are kept to ripe, some others when farmers use a chemical to make them good looking!

Organic foods getting expensive
Shahria Hossain Ria, a journalist from television media in my country, she has made a lot of report over this problem. She told that the berries we eat every day are mixed with 100% formaldehyde. Again mangoes, tomatoes, litchis, watermelons everything is contaminated with formaldehyde.

In Bangladesh, there is something common with the USA in the sense of food. Vendors and sellers who sell fruits and vegetables without formaldehyde want a very high price. But there are so many people who do not have much money to buy food. Again there is not enough labeling in Bangladesh.

There are some strict laws in the USA for food safety. One of them is the Pure Food and Drug Administration. Like that The constitution of Bangladesh has an article 15, which provides the provision for basic necessities including food. There is another article 18 (1) for rising of the level of nutrition and improvement of public health. The government takes some initiatives like the mobile court, the law imposing etc. But this is not a fruitful effort.

Will this situation change ever?
We can take an initiative for using bio-fertilizer with the cow dung, compost garbage etc. We could use the pesticides, which are much more natural and a large amount of water like the community far in the USA.
So will I eat those berries next time I see them? Not sure, gonna get my feel of organic ones in the next two weeks.

Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies. Before joining here, she worked as a lecturer in Journalism & Media Studies at Stamford University Bangladesh.
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