You’ve probably read the headlines that have been making the rounds, warning us of arsenic in our rice–yes, even organic rice!
Sadly, the news is true.
Arsenic is a mineral that naturally occurs in the earth. It’s been used throughout history, both as a medicine and as a murder weapon. In some places around the world, arsenic contamination levels are high enough in water and food to cause lung, bladder, and skin cancer epidemics. Things aren’t quite that bad here in the US, but it’s bad enough. Government regulators and scientists have known for a long time that there’s the threat of arsenic in water and food in the United States, but a couple of reports came out recently to remind us all of the risks we’re taking by eating a familiar old staple. Plain old rice.
Rice tends to have higher concentrations of arsenic than other fruits and vegetables that we eat. In fact, research is telling us that a half cup of rice contains enough arsenic to cause pretty great concern.
Why does rice have such high arsenic levels?
One of the reasons rice has so much arsenic is that some fields it’s grown in have been heavily treated with arsenic-based pesticides. Rice is also very absorbent and it tends to soak up a lot of the arsenic that is naturally occurring in the soil. This means the arsenic is right there in the grain of the rice, not just on the outside of it.
The FDA is trying to figure out which fields are most heavily contaminated and what regulation policies and procedures should be put in place, but while they do that, we should all consider how much poison we’re willing to ingest while we wait to find out how much is safe.
Personally, I don’t think you can get away with even “just a little” poison without suffering some consequences.
I’ve always recommended eating brown rice, but in light of this new research, I would have to suggest avoiding rice altogether and using quinoa, barley, or bulgur wheat in its place.
What about baby? Try to introduce avocados, bananas, squash, and sweet potatoes as baby’s first solid food rather than rice cereal.
If you’re not willing to give up rice, here are some suggestions for you to make it a bit safer, at least until the FDA figures out what it’s going to tell us:
• Limit your rice consumption
• Rinse, rinse, rinse. Boil your brown rice in lots of water like you would pasta. Apparently, by taking this step, you lower the amount of arsenic by 30-40%. This won’t work with white rice, but we shouldn’t be eating that stuff anyway.
• Watch other rice-based foods. With gluten-free everything appearing on the shelves, nowadays, there’s a lot of emphasis on rice-based replacements. Look for products that also contain no rice if you’re gluten sensitive.
• Avoid brown rice syrup. Read those labels, people! If you see brown rice syrup, don’t buy it.
• Avoid rice milk.
So what do we think? Will you be avoiding rice from now on? Tell us your opinion here!
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