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How to remove chemical residue in vegetables

Would you believe that by soaking your vegetables in a solution of two teaspoons of vinegar in a liter of water you can remove up to 80 percent of the pesticide residues?

Yes, that’s one of four easy ways you can remove pesticide residues recommended by Dr. Susan May F. Calumpang of UP Los Baños. She and members of her team have found that out in a research project funded by PCAARRD, an agency of the Department of Science and Technology. The study was aimed at establishing mitigating measures to minimize pesticide residues in intact and fresh-cut vegetables and sprouts.

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  • CONVENTIONALLY GROWN VEGETABLES IN THE MARKET – Photo shows a wide variety of pinakbet-type vegetables in the market. Most likely a lot of them were produced the conventional farming way. That means the farmers must have sprayed their plants with chemical pesticides to protect them from pests and diseases. In the process, if the plants were sprayed just a few days before harvest, the vegetables could be loaded with chemical residues which can be removed in easy ways suggested by Dr. Susan May F. Calumpang of UP Los Baños.
  • DR. SUSAN MAY F. CALUMPANG, UP Los Baños scientist specializing in chemical ecology
  • FINGER PEPPER FOR SINIGANG – The finger pepper which is often used in ‘sinigang’ and other dishes is prone to pest and disease problems so that farmers have to spray their crops with pesticides. That could result in pesticide residue if the farmers spray their plants just before harvest. Now, Dr. Susan May F. Calumpang of UP Los Baños has four easy suggestions to reduce chemical residues in the vegetables we cook.
  • WINGED BEAN IS HIGHLY NUTRITIOUS – The winged bean popularly called ‘sigarilyas’ is a vine crop that is a favorite for whipping up different vegetable dishes. It is claimed to be one of the most nutritious vegetables but it is also susceptible to insect pests so that farmers have to spray their plants with pesticides which could result in chemical residue in the fruits.
  • EGGPLANT PRONE TO BORERS – Eggplant is one crop that is very susceptible to stem and fruit borers causing a lot of losses. To minimize borer attack, planters often spray their plants frequently to control or prevent infestation resulting in chemical residues in the fruits.
  • CAULIFLOWER FOR CHOPSUEY – Cauliflower is a favorite for chopsuey and other dishes. Like most other vegetables, the crop is also attacked by insect pests and diseases forcing the growers to spray insecticide and fungicide that often results in chemical residues.
  • SALAD GREENS – The research team from UP Los Baños headed by Dr. Susan May F. Calumpang recommends that salad greens like lettuce should be washed thoroughly before preparation to reduce pesticide residue. One way is to first wash the vegetables with a solution of 10 drops of liquid detergent in one liter of water. Afterwards, rinse the vegetables in running tap water. This can reduce insecticide residue by 67 to 88 percent as per their study.

The research team now suggests four very easy and simple ways of removing pesticide residues in vegetables. Here they are:

1. Mix two teaspoons of vinegar into 4 cups of water and use this for soaking your vegetables for two minutes. This can reduce insecticide residues by up to 80 percent.

2. Mix 10 drops of liquid detergent into one liter of water and use this to wash your vegetables. Afterwards, rinse the vegetables in running tap water. This can reduce insecticide residues by 67 to 88 percent.

3. Boil vegetables. Insecticides are destroyed and broken down when they react to heat and water.

4. Broiling or grilling vegetables is another way of reducing pesticide residues. Eggplant is one vegetable that is usually broiled or grilled.

VEGGIES FOR SALAD – The research team recommends that fresh vegetables used in salads should be washed thoroughly using the above procedures if they have not been exposed to heatr.

By the way, Dr. Calumpang, who is assistant to the UPLB vice chancellor for research and extension, specializes in chemical ecology which is the study of chemicals that affect insect behavior. Her studies, in collaboration with other researchers, have already resulted in pest control techniques that can be used to protect crops without the use of chemical pesticides.

One example: The placement of leafy stalks of “Tagbak” (about one meter long) in rice fields can reduce green leaf hopper infestation which is the vector of the very destructive tungro virus to rice. Tagbak is a wild member of the ginger family found in many places in the country.

AGRI-BAZAAR CUM AGRI-KAPIHAN – The monthly three-day Agri-Bazaar cum Agri-Kapihan will be held on October 21-23 at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

This is a project of Agri-Aqua Network International (AANI) which specializes in technology transfer, weekend market development and farm tours.

The event is where Friends of AANI display their farm produce and other specialty products for sale to the public at very reasonable prices. It is also a venue for free lectures on timely topics in farming and gardening, health and wellness products, fish culture, livestock and poultry and many others.

EXOTIC FRUIT TREES – Planting materials of exotic fruit trees will be available at the agri-bazaar. These include grafter rambutan, durian, longkong and duku lanzones, imported pomelo varieties, imported makopa, chico, Golden Queen and other imported varieties from Thailand and Australia. See you there!