Thengaai, Maangai and We?

My mom would fetch me from school every day till I turned ten. On our way back, she would get me something to eat or drink. Most often she would stop at a juice shop and buy carrot juice for me. Like all 9 year olds, I felt she was being cruel to me :- ) So when the summer season arrived, I told her I no longer wanted carrot juice and I pestered her to get me Mango juice instead. She hesitated and told me that in shops like these, they camouflage the taste by adding extra sugar and it is not healthy. That was the first time I heard the word camouflage, so I remember this incident clearly.

20 years later, even today I do not buy mango juice from juice shops though I love the taste. Nowadays we read so much about wax coated apples, artificially ripened melons, mangoes and bananas. One no longer believes food can be 100% poison free. But I always felt that tender coconut was the safest. Loaded with minerals, elaneer (coconut water) seemed the best choice until I learnt that not even coconut trees are spared.

This happened at my aunt’s place. The coconut tree in their house had some infection and it was not fruiting properly. Apparently this was happening in a lot of places in and around Coimbatore. My Aunt found out that Agri University had people who would visit the house, check the trees and take care of it. So she called up this person who came, inspected the tree and injected chemicals and pesticide into the tree. She was then instructed strictly not to consume the first batch of coconuts in that season.

Since this was happening in their house, they were careful. But tell me, would someone, who wants to sell coconuts to make money be bothered?  They would just ignore the warning and sell the produce.  As consumers, what do we do?


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