Contributed by Kizito Ambe

These days, its common knowledge that organic food is healthier and this explains why many people are ditching junks and switching into the healthy living lifestyle. This is however typical in developed countries where government regulations discourage the excessive use of fertilizers and other additives. Recall that public health experts have continuously cautioned on the alarming rate of certain illnesses including cancer, which are associated with toxic chemicals used in cultivating food. Well, it becomes tricky for those living in developing countries like Cameroon, where bureaucracy and corruption have eaten deep into most sectors including the Public Health Ministry. It may however interest you to know that the idea of agricultural produce quality control pretty exists only on paper in most developing countries. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to secure your own health by controlling the quality of everything you eat. After all, health is wealth.

Even though it is a given that the causes of cancer are many and varied, I still strongly belief that everyone’s poison comes from what they eat. A lot of people are either so ignorant or they turn to neglect the important tips that should be taken into consideration when buying food items. For example, what do you take into consideration when buying fresh tomatoes from the local market? Do you chose quality over quantity? It’s such a shame and an unfortunate situation that, most people prefer quantity over quality. Well, rest assured that isn’t a smart move at all and it’s more like being penny wise and pound foolish. Instead of paying attention to quantity, you should rather prioritize the aspects that relate to how the tomatoes were grown. Are the tomatoes, organic or inorganic? Of course, you should choose the organic ones because they will definitely guarantee optimal health and possibly long life. Remember you live just once, so you’ve got to invest to guard your life jealously.

Personally, I have observed buyers getting tomatoes which are still stained with pesticides from the farm without even winking. I actually cringe each time I see somebody wipe these chemicals with their hands, a piece of cloth or even a small quantity of water and consume. To tell the truth, that is an unhealthy lifestyle and it doesn’t matter if you consume it fresh or cooked.

Perhaps if we understand that the biggest companies producing pesticides are also the largest producers of biological warfare weapons, we will learn to take out the time to choose the right fruits and vegetables. That said, permit me to give you some guidelines that will protect you from being a victim of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. There are shreds of evidences that the constituents of the atomic bomb that was used back then are being used in making pesticides in diluted quantities. You can therefore follow these three guidelines to reduce the risk of consuming fresh pesticides:

  1. Pre-harvest interval: All chemicals have what is called a half-life; which is the time required for a chemical quantity to reduce to its initial value. Pesticides which are chemicals used to kill pests are designed to completely disappear after their use, and each pesticide has labels that indicate the mode of application. Thus, if the chemicals are not used rightly, they produce nothing but poison. You should therefore make it a duty to always ask the farmer or vendor when last his/her produce were sprayed before being harvested. If the answer is anything less than 6 weeks, do not buy.
  2. Be vigilant of chemical residues in the form of colors on crops in the market. As a matter of fact, you should consider veggies and fruits with colorful patches as poison. Do not buy them!
  3. Above all, how the vendor displays his/her products can tell you how much he cares about what he is selling. If the seller dumps his produce nonchalantly in the mud, do not buy.

Of course, there are several other factors you could consider but these three are enough to guide you in buying the right foodstuff that will not result in health hazards in the long run.