Atop a fruitseller’s cart in the plush CR Park is a carton of apples. They look ripe, juicy and are exorbitantly priced at Rs150 a kilo.
But it takes a trained eye to see through their lack of nutritive value.
“It’s not just the vegetables. Fruits too have a lot of artificial colouring and waxes to make them look presentable. It takes a lot of experience to tell the genuine from the fake,” says homemaker, Vanita Arora.
Arora picks out apples and grapes from their cartons and quickly separates the glazed from the genuine. She continues, “I have an understanding with the seller here. If I find a fake, I come and return it.”
While there are few who are adept at telling the genuine from the fake, not many are worried about the product at hand. The Delhi High Court’s decision to crack down on retailers and wholesalers has not managed to create any frenzy among retailers or consumers.
“Who cares about any such ruling? Pesticides have always been used and will continue being used in future,” says Amar Nath, a vegetable retailer at the INA Market.
While some are impervious to the crackdown, others feel that the matter must be addressed at the grassroots.
Delhi receives its vegetables and fruits from Azadpur market, Asia's biggest wholesale hub for vegetables and fruits. Its volume of transactions translates to roughly Rs600 crore per year.
Depending on the season, typically around 500 trucks each of potatoes and onions arrive at the mandi every day. Wholesale traders there claimed they were clean.
“In any case only parval (a vegetable) requires artificial greening and that happens in UP and Haryana. Fruits might contain artificial colouring but that does not happen in Delhi,” said Jaikishan Saini, member of Agriculture Produce Markets Committee at Azadpur.
Clearly, not everyone in the city is willing to admit the toll that consumption of veggies takes on its citizens’ health.