So,-you’ve checked out all the ingredients for the meal tonight, to be sure that you’re not going to accidentally poison your gluten free child with wheat – but you might just have missed something …
Green Fertility points out a recent story in the New York Times about carcinogenic arsenic contaminating rice fields in southern-central American states, due to years of using arsenic as a pesticide when the fields were used to grow cotton.
I know that we see one scare story after another, until it becomes difficult to remember whether you’re supposed to be eating butter or not this week – but this story is disconcerting. The researchers (from the University of Aberdeen) note that some groups of people eat more rice than the average – and of course coeliacs (or celiacs) are some of them. Result: their exposure may exceed the established “limits” for arsenic intake.
We all know that arsenic is a poison from reading murder mysteries – in the stories, people collapse and die instantly. Taken at lower levels, arsenic is carcinogenic, and can cause skin, reproductive, developmental and other disorders.
We have rice in our cupboard – yes, American long-grain, but also Thai fragrant rice, a couple of different risotto rices from Italy, and some short-grain pudding rice. I might just have to check the label on the next American rice I buy, but it will only say ‘Product of USA’, not ‘Contains Arsenic’. Is this story likely to impact the sales of rice from Arkansas and Louisiana? I suspect only if it is taken up by a famous chef or other celebrity pundit.
In the meantime, I’m going to go and plant a vegetable garden – I know where the soil in my garden has been. Rice-growing, though, is beyond me …