Thursday, March 1, 2012

Arsenic found in baby formula? Grow your own food!

I saw the interesting juxtaposition of tweets below that appeared side-by-side in my twitter machine.  The first tweet is a "Food Safety" concern.  Generally, finding poisons like Arsenic in food is a big concern, that is currently known as "Food Safety", which has to do with various chemicals that find their way into the food we eat.  The second tweet is a simple reminder that gardening season is starting.  It may not be obvious, but the second (gardening, and growing your own food) is a solution to the first (food safety concerns like arsenic).

How?  To my mind the issue with food safety is the industrialization of the food system.  Maybe a food processing factory is having to spread arsenic to kill rats and the like, and then the arsenic finds its way into the food being processed in that facility.  On the other hand, when growing your you control what goes into that food.  Of course the gardening supply store does have a selection of poisons whose niceified name is "pesticide", so even growing your own food you can pour various -cide's (a.k.a. poisons) on the garden.  Doing so is your choice, and alternatively its your choice to use organic gardening practices.  The thing about industrialized food is you don't have any choice, because the choices are made by businesses who don't have your best interest in mind.

Let's remember some history.  The Food and Drug Administration came into being because of food safety scandals over 100 years ago.  Businesses at that time proved over and over they were willing to sell poisonous crap food to people, while paying off inspectors to stamp the food as safe even when it wasn't.

What isn't clear from the "Arsenic" article linked below is the amount of Arsenic found in food.  Is the amount well below the level the FDA considers to be safe?  That is, for all these extra bits finding their way into food, the FDA has safe levels.  Scientists have found that, supposedly, small amounts of poison are safe to eat, while large amounts are not.  It of course varies on the poison in question.

Even so, there are doubts over the actual safety of the levels the FDA considers safe.  Chemicals have a way of bioaccumulating, not just in our own bodies but in the environment.  If we eat foods laced with tiny amounts of poison, some of the chemicals bioaccumulate over time to build up to a dangerous amount.  The bioaccumulation occurs in the environment, as chemicals find their way into rivers or lakes, are eaten by the animals there, who in turn are eaten, each time the chemicals laced into this animals bioaccumulate to dangerous amounts.