Arsenic in energy bars!

2:59 p.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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According to a new report from Consumer Reports, there is arsenic in brown rice syrup, which is used as a sweetener in energy bars and baby food. Here is a CNN report and from Food Safety News. Brown rice syrup is used in a number of organic products in place of high fructose corn syrup. When we saw the report, Barb and I went through our supplies of backpacking food and discovered that brown rice syrup is the FIRST ingredient in many energy bars and the "gum drop" energy chews. Apparently a lot of the arsenic comes from fields that were used for other crops over the years and treated with various pesticides. These pesticides are now in the soil. When brown rice is grown, apparently the rice takes up the arsenic from the soil, even when the farmer is growing the rice organically. Supposedly, the amount of arsenic is quite small. However, brown rice is one of our major ingredients when we do Mexican and Chinese dishes (which we do a lot).

Nothing is safe anymore!

4:44 p.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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Group A human carcinogen.

Looks like this was a known issue for at least a few years:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892142/

First I have heard about it, good to know!  Thanks Bill!

2:04 p.m. on February 18, 2012 (EST)
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I am just simply going to stop eating.

8:08 p.m. on February 19, 2012 (EST)
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Drat!

I already have to limit my intake of certain local fish / shellfish because of Mercury.

Thanks for the information Bill S.

9:40 p.m. on February 19, 2012 (EST)
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I have a slogan that goes like this: "Eat carrots while it's healthy" In our society they find every day something that is unhealthy, even the things we thought were the most healthy of all. But I take it easy! Worrying could make stress to the heart ....

10:24 p.m. on February 19, 2012 (EST)
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If I was 20, I might care, today, not really. I heard a story about this on NPR. The expert was saying, essentially "so what, brown rice is good for you and the contamination is minimal." Most food is contaminated with something bad for you, but the amounts are usually so small as to be unimportant.

5:10 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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Bill - It's not just from historical pesticide use.  Arsenic is widespread and naturally occurring in soil all over the place.  When I used to analyze soil samples in the Bay Area, they were typically around 5 ppm arsenic, all naturally occurring.

8:08 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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What!?!!?! Are you telling me that the media are not 100% truthful and accurate in their stories? I mean, we are all rapidly dying from the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and just plain associating with other people! Surely you aren't telling me that the media exaggerate and pick topics that are sensational, just to sell papers and gain audience share???

I guess, though, I can take comfort in knowing that the greatest cause of death is being born.

8:20 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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When I start hallucinating from eating too many energy bars I will start worrying...

Then again. ;)

1:35 a.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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OK, so if it's grown organically, we think it's safe. But we have to dig a bit deeper. Where do the seeds come from, what's in the soil and where does the fertilizer come from? Certainly, many of these known harmful chemicals occur naturally. Sometimes in the most innocuous ways. ( the fish in Williston Lake BC contain high levels of mercury, from the trees that were flooded when the lake was formed. All naturally occurring.)

A number of years ago I was curious about a biological issue with drinking water. Giardia. So I did the research and produced an article. Solid fact based studies determined that there were twice as many giardia cysts in SF's water supply than in the 1000 Sierra lakes tested.

As Bill says, the media is partly at fault. I also believe our own paranoia is also at fault. I am more likely to treat my water from a Sierra lake than the tap in SF, but I am more likely to get sick from the latter.

10:00 a.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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Anybody remember this:

Miles Monroe: Where am I anyhow, I mean, what happened to everybody, where are all my friends? 
Dr. Aragon: You must understand that everyone you knew in the past has been dead nearly two hundred years. 
Miles Monroe: But they all ate organic rice! 

or this:

Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk." 
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties. 
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge? 
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true. 
Dr. Melik: Incredible. 

12:05 p.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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Arsenicals, a class of insecticides no longer in use in the USA (banned), may still be used in other countries. 

Organic does not mean pesticide-free.  

Organic growers are allowed to use all sorts of chemicals which can actually leave higher residue levels on foods than conventional chemicalls. Locally grown food, allowed to vine-ripen, will almost always give you healthier food no matter how it is grown though.   My wife's family owns orchards and my degree is in agriculture so I get to deal with this issue a lot. 

 

***Disclaimer!!  I work for a chemical manufacturer in the renewable energy industry.

1:11 p.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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I think at the base, it comes down to knowing where your food comes from. That means buying locally grown when possible, but also knowing the details of that source. The sad thing is we have come to expect bigger redder apples, etc., and yet an apple of today has half the nutrients of an apple in 1940. We've made it more attractive and it grows faster, but it isn't as good for us.

6:33 p.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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BigRed said:

Anybody remember this:

Miles Monroe: Where am I anyhow, I mean, what happened to everybody, where are all my friends? 
Dr. Aragon: You must understand that everyone you knew in the past has been dead nearly two hundred years. 
Miles Monroe: But they all ate organic rice! 

or this:

Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk." 
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties. 
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge? 
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true. 
Dr. Melik: Incredible. 

 Yes! I remember that conversation, but I don't remember the name of the movie.

6:43 p.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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I have been an active gardener for several years now. I can't grow enough.


02victory_garden.jpg

3:01 p.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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NPR carried a story on this today (not too soon):

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/02/147781035/high-levels-of-arsenic-found-in-rice

I called the folks at Clif Bar to ask whether they test for arsenic and was read a prepared statement that included such platitudes as the arsenic levels were no higher than found in chicken and that their products are safe. So I guess I'm not in a hurry to throw away my supply but it's disconcerting. I welcome learning from the FDA recommendations when available.

At minimum I would expect source testing and information on arsenic levels on the package.

11:35 p.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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like Dr Reaper i grow some of my own food, we are scaling back this year but last year planted about 2 acres. i have never used anything stronger than sevin dust, and even that very sparingly on leaf crops. not because i dont think there are safe chemicals out there but because i am not going to feed it to my family and freinds, my grandkids in particular. one thing i can witness to is this, the average consumer would have a fit if they bought a dozen ears of corn and found corn worms in five of them but that is very possible without some chemical prevetion. my wife and me don't think anything of it we just use a nail brush to clean the silks out and pay extra attention to the trail the worm made but your grocer or local eatery would throw it out. same with beans, some insects excretions are sweet from the plants juices and the ants come to feed on those excretions, the result is blemishes that make the bean unattractive and there for unfit for sale to most americans but they will eat the ugliest cow in the feed lot who has been pumped full of growth hormones and drink the milk from the cow who passes all the hormones she has consumed on to them. child hood obesity?? i wonder why. now dont get me wrong i am not opposed to using pesticides and herbicides in a safe manner but i dont trust the goverment to decide what is safe and am extremely suspicious of farmers who grow corn that is inedible until it has been processed into corn syrup and seed and chemical companys who file suits on small farmers growing open pollinated crops for suposedly contaminating there gmo seed from neighboring feilds, it looks to me like the suits should be leveled the other way but the small farmer dont have the denero to compete with big ag. yes there are alternatives, neem oil, mineral oil on corn silks, soaps and pepper based solutions but i leave home before daylight and get home after dark and just dont have the time so like the old timers used to say, one for the cut worm, one for the crow, one for the maggot and one to grow. ok i'm off the soap box...NEXT!!!

earl.

12:57 p.m. on March 3, 2012 (EST)
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Often, I think as consumers, we buy food that "looks" good, even though that may have nothing to do with how healthy it actually is. "Food Inc" is a good, if disconcerting, film about where our food comes from, and how our food is produced.

10:11 p.m. on March 3, 2012 (EST)
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So have any of you gardeners had any testing done for arsenic? How about lead? Just curious.

12:52 p.m. on March 4, 2012 (EST)
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phraber - I can tell you this. Once you taste the food you grow. You will know the food in the store isn't top shelf.

I have a bad case of crows right now also... They keep swiping my strawberry's. I have to rig up some chicken wire to keep them back.

As far as arsenic goes I had my soil put together by a local science teacher and I have not amended it yet. I do square foot gardening.

My aquaponics system is the best producer and it has no arsenic in it. I do have to add iron for the plants.

2:43 p.m. on March 25, 2012 (EDT)
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Dr. Oz also has half of America convinced apple juice is poisonous...quacks are everywhere these days!

9:52 a.m. on March 26, 2012 (EDT)
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Arsenic is like "The Force"

October 22, 2014
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