Saturday, August 23, 2008

Radioactive spinach?? Probably not...

Michael Pollan, or his books I should say, taught me something interesting about the produce and leafy greens we eat today: they aren't nearly as nutritious or packed full or antioxidants as say... a weed. Or as they were decades ago. Consider the following:

In order for a plant to survive in nature it has to stand up to pests and protect itself. In order for a plant to survive an prosper in the US food market, it has to be palatable - sweet even. By over-fertilizing, creating monoculture farms and over-producing certain plants, over time we have diminished the nutritional value (antioxidants etc) by doing for spinach, lettuce, and many others, what weeds do for themselves, thus making the manufactured produce more susceptible to disease and leaving self-sustaining plants far richer in nutritional value than the mass produced, widely-shipped varieties we find at the grocer.

What I am getting at here, is that the nutritional value of the produce most Americans consume (i.e. not from local farms) is already low and this latest news about FDA approval for zapping produce with radiation in order to kill/manage dangerous micro-organisms like Salmonella and E. coli sounds like treating a symptom of a much larger problem. Not to mention, the process lowers nutritional value even more and, well, it sort of freaks me out.

Read about the irradiation of produce in the NY Times:

Health / Health Care Policy
F.D.A. Allows Irradiation of Some Produce
Published: August 22, 2008
The change in policy for fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce marks the first time the F.D.A. has allowed any produce to be irradiated at levels needed to protect against illness.

However, I should also point out that there are good arguments in favor of this irradiation. Check out here:

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