E. Coli: FDA Will Allow Spinach, Lettuce To Be Irradiated

For the first time ever, the FDA is going to allow manufacturers to irradiate produce at levels that can kill bacteria that causes food-borne illness, says the New York Times. The produce in question, spinach and iceberg lettuce, have, in recent years, been linked to widespread outbreaks of serious illnesses.

From the New York Times:

Advocates for food safety condemned the agency’s decision and asserted that irradiation could lower nutritional value, create unsafe chemicals and ruin taste.

“It’s a total cop-out,” said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch. “They don’t have the resources, the authority or the political will to really protect consumers from unsafe food.”

Dr. Laura Tarantino, director of the Office of Food Additive Safety at the F.D.A., said the agency had found no serious nutritional or safety changes associated with irradiation of spinach or lettuce.

“These irradiated foods are not less safe than others,” Dr. Tarantino said, “and the doses are effective in reducing the level of disease-causing micro-organisms.”

The government has long allowed food processors to irradiate beef, eggs, poultry, oysters and spices, but the market for irradiated foods is tiny because the government also requires that these foods be labeled as irradiated, labels that scare away most consumers.

“People think the product is radioactive,” said Harlan Clemmons, president of Sadex, a food irradiation company based in Sioux City, Iowa.

What do you think? Will you happily eat irradiated spinach?

F.D.A. Allows Irradiation of Some Produce [NYT]
(Photo: smcgee )

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. jswilson64 says:

    Mmm produce. Now covered in a layer of _sterile_ dirt.

  2. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I might not have a problem with irradiation in theory. However, I’m worried that in practice that the industry would use it as an excuse to slip even more as far as how clean our food is and that the irradiation itself might not be done properly.

    Can’t they just stop getting poop all over everything?

  3. SkokieGuy says:

    Of course we all blindly trust the FDA, right?

    An alternate point of view: [www.organicconsumers.org]

    Some choice morsels:
    · The longest human feeding study was 15 weeks. No one knows the long-term effects of a life-long diet that includes foods which will be frequently irradiated.
    · There are no studies on the effects of feeding babies or children diets containing irradiated foods, except a very small and controversial study from India that showed health effects.
    · Studies on animals fed irradiated foods have shown increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage. Some possible causes are: irradiation-induced vitamin deficiencies, the inactivity of enzymes in the food, DNA damage, and toxic radiolytic products in the food.
    · The FDA based its approval of irradiation for fruits and vegetables on a theoretical calculation of the amount of URPs in the diet from ONE 7.5 oz. serving/day of irradiated food. Considering the different kinds of foods approved for irradiation, this quantity is too small and the calculation is irrelevant.
    · Even with current labeling requirements, people cannot avoid eating irradiated food. That means there is no control group, and epidemiologists will never be able to determine if irradiated food has any health effects.

  4. nicemarmot617 says:

    Is it just me or does irradiated food often taste funny?

  5. Mr_D says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: That’s basically my view. They can shoot food as full of microwaves as they want, but that’s no excuse for sloppy food safety.

  6. ArmyOfFun says:

    I don’t have a problem using a microwave which I feel is analogous (though not equivalent) to irradiating food.

    As long as the food is properly labeled, I don’t see what the problem is.

  7. SkokieGuy says:

    @ArmyOfFun: Labelling, (which is unlikely) AND some way to insure that there is still choice.

    I use a microwave too (sparingly), but my concern is that irradiation will be come the defacto processing and no alternatives will be available for many classes of products, (try to buy common spices that aren’t irradiated)

  8. sleze69 says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: @SkokieGuy: @nicemarmot617: Interestingly enough, humans have been irradiating food for thousands of years. How? FIRE. Every time you COOK something you are irradiating it.

    There is nothing wrong with irradiated food.

  9. OnceWasCool says:

    Other countries have been eating irradiated food for years. It is such a low power thing that kills pest and other things like E. Coli that we don’t want in our food. It was either the History channel or the Discovery channel (I think) they showed how they do that. There is a giant pool of water and the food is lowered into it. The Radiation is applied for just a second and the food is removed, safer than when it was put in. The guy doing the story even drank a glass of water out of the pool.

    Here is why I don’t have a problem with irradiate food. They hire Illegals to pick the food in the fields. They urinate, defecate, cough, spit and lord know what on the food they are picking. Just washing with water doesn’t do enough for me.

  10. SkokieGuy says:

    @sleze69: Thank you for sharing your scientific expertise with us!

    Yes, and a 9 volt battery and a bolt of lightening are both forms of electricity, so therefore the same.

    @OnceWasCool: If you don’t have a problem with irradiation, that’s awesome. I’m sure since the show you watched had access to a processing facility, it was a fair and balanced report and the processing company had no interest in presenting the information is a somewhat skewed light.

    As long as ALL irradiated food is labelled AND there are easily available non-irradiated choices for those who prefer to avoid these types of food, I have no problem with it.

  11. ironchef says:

    irradiated food is harmless.

    I bet some of the raw food types freak out about microwaves too.

  12. darkryd says:

    Better solution – start growing and shopping locally.

  13. Oxzimmaron says:

    My brother won’t eat food that is microwaved, or should I say, food that he KNOWS has been microwaved. He eats in restaurants all the time and has no way of knowing for sure then. He also fears air conditioning. Mom had to beg him to use it in his car when he took her to the store this summer. I don’t know how he feels about irradiation, but I could guess. I’m thinking of buying him a whole roll of heavy duty Reynolds wrap this Christmas so he can make a full suit to go with his hat.

    As you might have guessed, I have no problems with irradiation (or microwaves).

  14. JustinAche says:

    Reason # 21 why I will buy and eat radiated food? 28 Days Later…only the radiated food lasted those 4 weeks, hah

  15. Xerloq says:

    @SkokieGuy: He’s technically right, so why get down on him? I agree it’s much more fun to imagine sinister Big Food shoving spinach through the dregs of a nuclear waste facility, but that’s hardly what we’re talking about here.

    By the way, the energies from cooking and ionizing radiation are closer than the voltage/amperage of a 9V versus lightning.

    The best way to control this (and cheapest way) is to keep a garden. I’ve got about 40 lbs of summer squash – takers?

  16. What about the Jalapeno peppers and tomatoes?

  17. sir_pantsalot says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Mexican sewage on Mexican produce is the way of the future. You might want to get used to it.

    Kind of like War of the Worlds but with a different ending where the invaders kill us with their germs and diseases instead of the other way around.

  18. Sunflower1970 says:

    Nope. Won’t touch irradiated food. Sounds gross, and I don’t know what the side effects are. At this point, I don’t trust the FDA since they can’t even keep the food safe as it is now, how can the say this is safe? I’ll grow my own veggies (which I’m already doing), and I don’t use a microwave all that often. (preferring the taste and texture of oven and stove cooked foods)

  19. yasth says:

    The real concern about irradiated food (which is so insanely safer for you that it isn’t funny, sickness and death from food are under reported sickness drastically so) is that it is too good, it really does kill off the bacteria. Which means you aren’t exposed to it, your immune system is weaker etc.

    Irradiated enzyme and vitamin damage and other stuff is just psuedoscientific talk for the most part.

  20. tevetorbes says:

    @SkokieGuy:

    Neither a 9-volt battery nor a bolt of lightning is a “form” of electricity- thank YOU for sharing your scientific “expertise” with us.

    As for sleze69‘s comment, while it is probably an oversimplification of the issue, it is TECHNICALLY (and scientifically, for that matter) correct and got a chuckle out of me.

    The knee-jerk reaction for most people is “radioactive” and “radiation” and “nuclear” = bad and do avoid. The fact of the matter is that a fire produces radiation that is not harmful in small doses. Case in point: if you want to stay warm, collecting infrared photons from a safe distance (say, 2 feet) with your hands is a great way to do so.

    Yeah, so I think sleze69‘s point was that sure, radiation CAN be bad, but not all forms are bad, and just because someone uses the word “radiation” shouldn’t elicit an immediate response of panic and hysteria.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong- don’t want to put words in people’s mouths.

  21. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    Honestly, why on earth can’t they just label the stuff???? I want to know what’s in/been done to the stuff I choose to buy. PLEASE.

    Also, the longest study done was 15 weeks???? What the …..????

  22. Red_Eye says:

    Yes, wonderful now the spinach growers will be able to fertilize their fields in much more common forms of feces such as human and still be able to make it safe to eat! Rock On!

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    How about rather than creating a wastefully high energy, yucky and potentially long-term health threatening “solution”, they actually fix the problem: outlaw the vast vats of fecal-laden water that some Big Agra factories bath their greens in?
    Kind of whacky, I know but…

  24. crashfrog says:

    @SkokieGuy: Studies on animals fed irradiated foods have shown increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage.

    Every animal study has these results – kidney damage, tumors, and reproductive failures. Partly it’s the result of the mass quantities the animals are force-fed, and partly it’s the simple fact that in the animals they use – rats, mostly – these conditions are inevitable if they’re kept alive long enough.

    Sure, they sound scary – “irradiated foods are going to shrink your nads!” – but you get the exact same results from normal foods, GM foods, organic foods, or whatever.

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    @jswilson64: not dirt. Tasting dirt is fine, as any five-year-old boy will attest. It’s shit that’s the cause. So this “fix” is to have our vegetables covered in a fine, sterile layer of shit.
    Yum!
    I’m optimistic that labeling requirements will hold for this? Please?

  26. SkokieGuy says:

    @tevetorbes: To simply have a knee jerk reaction that anything “radioactive” or similar is automatically bad is of course simplistic.

    In my first post I put a link to an alternate point of view. While it is from an organic site, who certainly has an agenda, they provide very clear and specific criticism of the FDA’s approval process and the studies that supported it.

    The fact that we cook food with fire is a laughable basis for accepting this newer technology as safe, so my apologies for going overboard on criticizing it.

    To everyone who is certain that this type of processing is safe, what are you basing your opinion on?

    I wear no tinfoil hat (although it would nicely hide my bald spot), but questioning authority and not trusting our government to safeguard our health (or much else) is not an unreasonble position.

  27. crashfrog says:

    @Trai_Dep: outlaw the vast vats of fecal-laden water that some Big Agra factories bath their greens in?

    There’s nothing like food to get people all mixed up. “Big Farma” are the guys using synthetic, chemical fertilizers. Organic farms are the ones who have to use manure and biosludge (fertilizer processed from human sewage), because the clean, synthetic fertilizers can’t be used.

    If you’d like less e.coli on your food, stop growing it in stuff that comes out of buttholes. Stop buying organic.

  28. crashfrog says:

    @SkokieGuy: To everyone who is certain that this type of processing is safe, what are you basing your opinion on?

    Sound sciences, like biology and physics. A decade of practice in several Western countries.

  29. Ein2015 says:

    [en.wikipedia.org]

    According to the above, nobody knows if it’s harmful for us.

    Oh well, there’s so many chemicals and unnatural things in what we eat all the time that eventually (hopefully?) we’ll adapt to it. Until then, we’re at least surviving okay.

  30. SkokieGuy says:

    @crashfrog: And what studies, based on these sound sciences are you refering to? Long-term double-blind studies performed on humans? I am not aware of any. Please change my mind and let me know of links to scientific data.

    Realize that since most irradiated food is not labeled, the fact that it has been used for decades is absolutely no measure of safety. If you are unable to determine whether a population did or did not consume irradiate food, you have no way to determine any causal relationship to a decline in health or illness. That is exactly why the industry is trying so hard to avoid mandatory labeling and that is one reason I think labeling should be mandatory.

    Regardless of our opposite positions, do you have a problem with the two things I am suggesting; labeling & that non-irradiated alternatives remain available. Can you really make the case that providing LESS information or reducing choices is a desirable? (Especially on Consumerist!)

    I don’t want to be the loudest voice on this thread, so I’m done.

  31. Parapraxis says:

    @crashfrog:

    True. I’d recommend most of these people in the thread look up Norman Borlaug.

    A lot of it is due to misinformation. For example; know what an NMR is? Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Saves thousands of lives.

    However, the word nuclear scared too many people. So now they call them “MRIs”

    Microwaves? Nothing “nuclear” about it. It shoots microwave electromagnetic waves that induces rotational energy into electrons and the bonds between molecules of water.

    Don’t believe me? Put a dry sponge in the microwave and heat for 1 minute. Won’t heat up very much.

    Now wet the sponge, microwave it, and see how hot it gets.

    there is a LOT of misinformation out there.

  32. IAmMarchHare says:

    So, does this mean that my spinach will now give off a healthy green glow when the lights are out?

  33. Preyfar says:

    I’d probably be worried about irradiated food… if I didn’t have to breath in recycled office air, smog, dust, strange body odors from co-workers, bisphenol in my beverages and all the other daily pollutants that enter my body.

    What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And when it comes to irradiated food, what doesn’t kill you makes you glow.

  34. johnva says:

    How about we allow irradiation AND require companies to use proper sanitation standards? This isn’t an either/or thing, but a layered defense against contamination.

    I’m actually surprised at how many people here are so opposed to irradiation.

  35. theora55 says:

    Meat is already irradiated. It’s not on the label. Irradiated produce won’t be labeled because consumers are not considered capable of deciding for themselves whether they want to eat irradiated food.

    In Maine, Oakhurst Dairy was sued by Monsanto for accurately stating on the label they don’t use milk from cows fed Bovine Growth Hormone. The dairy won.

    As a consumer, I want to choose. Irradiated spinach will probably be cheaper and many buyers just won’t care. I’ve reached the point where I don’t trust grocery sellers, because they prefer to hide facts, like radiation, hormones, etc. I want to be able to decide for myself. I might decide that irradiation is okay, but I want to have the choice. Labeling is *good*.

    Consumer protection had pretty much died, then along came The Consumerist. Perhaps legislators will figure out that lots of voters want consumer protection.

  36. Keter says:

    The thing that has me worried is the wording I heard on a news story last night that said that the FDA was considering letting the labeling requirement for irradiated foods slip. You can wash off dirt and germs, you can’t wash off the chemical changes induced by radiation. Time to source locally or grow my own. (I’m not affiliated, and will probably build my own version rather than buy this, but this is a great idea for gardeners who have little space or poor soil to work with).

  37. Jigen says:

    Wegmans will lie right to your face about irradiated beef, claiming there is absolutely no radiation used or given off in the process.

  38. Dobernala says:

    Can you tell that food has been irradiated? Is it detectable with a Geiger counter?

    I’m pro-organic and pro-natural but nonetheless have a hard time seeing whats wrong with irradiation.

  39. Fallom says:

    @SkokieGuy: You’re the kind of guy who thinks cell phones use magically different radio signals than FM stations, right?

  40. Stile4aly says:

    Arrgh. Irradiating food doesn’t make food radioactive. This isn’t The Hulk, for God’s sake! There is absolutely nothing unsafe about irradiated food.

    Here’s what irradiating food does: It damages the DNA of the microbes on the surface of the food so that it cannot survive. The type of radiation source used is not deeply penetrating, and indeed would be stopped by a sheet of paper. It only affects the surface of the food.

    Now, let’s say that it did effect some genetic damage to some of the cells of the spinich itself. It doesn’t matter anyway because you digest it and break it down to monomeric forms. You don’t have full DNA strands roaming around your intestinal tract, you only have the individual nucleic acids.

  41. Gokuhouse says:

    It is a sad day when the great FDA states that irradiated food is no different than any other food. I for one will do all I can to avoid this at all costs…and at times like these, any extra cost hurts the wallet!

  42. johnva says:

    @theora55: I agree that labeling is a good thing – to a point. I can see arguments either way. The rBGH thing wasn’t a food safety measure; it was just a profit-increasing measure. And in that case the small dairy simply wanted to advertise that they DID NOT use it, vs. forcing others to label that they do use it. So in that case, I think it was more of a free speech issue. Some anti-irradiation activists wanted irradiated food to be labeled with giant nuclear symbols. That would have just about killed irradiation off, so I don’t believe it’s fair to require something misleading like that for a safe process that’s designed to increase food safety.

    So basically…I think companies should be free to advertise that they don’t use irradiation, but I don’t think that companies that do use it should be forced to put giant warning labels on food when there isn’t scientific evidence that it’s unsafe.

  43. ianmac47 says:

    Will this irradiated food be labeled? Will irradiated food be sold as organic?

  44. Trai_Dep says:

    @crashfrog: It’s the processing factories that have risen in the past decade – both for meats and for veggies – that have made what used to be isolated, localized, minor contaminations into continent-spanning health crises that threaten – literally – millions. It wasn’t a problem before since one bad leaf (or cut of beef) only infected a small batch of processed food.
    Now, one contaminated piece is mixed with metric tons of fine pieces that are distributed nationwide. And the only entities that can afford these vast processing factories are Big Agri (or beef, or…)
    That’s the problem and that’s what the (let’s face it: Republican) government refuses to fix, because of blind ideology, incompetence or legalized corruption. Gods forbid that businesses are told that poisoning consumers can’t be part of their business plan.

  45. Orv says:

    @Dobernala: No, it’s not detectable with a Geiger counter because the food is not radioactive.

  46. johnva says:

    @Gokuhouse: The WHO, in reviewing a huge number of studies on the safety of food irradiation, has concluded that there is no evidence to suggest it causes harm.

  47. Orv says:

    @tevetorbes: It’s a bit disingenuous to compare infrared radiation from a fire with gamma radiation from a nuclear source. One will make you pleasantly warm, the other will destroy your DNA. That’s why it works to sterilize food — it destroys the microorganisms’ RNA and DNA, killing them.

    However, I have no reason to think irradiated food is unsafe. The food never comes in contact with the radioactive source, so it can’t be contaminated by radioactive material. There have been accidents at irradiation plants with workers being exposed to doses of radioactivity, but to my knowledge there has never been an incident where food was contaminated. The same process is also used to sterilize bandages and surgical tools.

    My main concern is it might lead to sloppier food handling practices. It’s all well and good to know that the shit on my food is sterile and won’t make me sick, but I’d rather have food with no shit on it to begin with.

  48. Dobernala says:

    @Orv: Its just a matter of degree between “pleasantly warm” and “cooked”.

  49. AtomikB says:

    I prefer to eat food that’s not irradiated. I shouldn’t have to justify my preference to the FDA or anybody else.

    Food producers favor irradiation because it’s cheaper than maintaining hygenic facilities for processing. They don’t want to label their food as irradiated because they know that most people prefer clean, non-irradiated food, but they don’t want to lose market-share for their extreme cheapness.

    I’m the customer, give me what I want!!!

  50. johnva says:

    @Orv: I totally agree. Irradiation is not and should not be an excuse for otherwise improper food handling. And legally it isn’t; all the other food safety regulations still apply. But as long as the government still stringently enforces the other rules, I think adding irradiation could be a good thing. I don’t believe there are any harmful effects from eating irradiated food, and it’s been used extensively in other countries. And like I said, the WHO has concluded that it’s perfectly safe. I’m much more inclined to believe the scientists who wrote all the articles the WHO reviewed than I am to believe anti-irradiation activist groups, some of whom have a history of spewing anti-scientific nonsense.

  51. johnva says:

    @AtomikB: On what basis do you prefer not to eat it? Do you think it’s dangerous?

  52. Comms says:

    So instead of regulating the industry you’re adding another step to the process?

    wow

  53. Parapraxis says:

    @AtomikB:

    Even perfectly treated meats can be harbingers for incredibly virulent strains of bacteria.

    Food safety regulations MINIMIZE the possibility of infection. It would be ridiculous to claim that some magical method would ELIMINATE it. It is a combination of hygenic practices, irradiation (YES, irradiation), and proper temperature storage that makes food safety what it is today.

    You can’t just ignore the health benefits of irradiating food just because you don’t agree with how it’s done.

  54. ChuckECheese says:

    But maybe the radiations will give us all superpowers. That’s a plus, right?

  55. Sherryness says:

    Anything that is grown outside has a good chance of being pooed on by a bird or peed on by a badger or something. And you can’t get ride of the potential disease this can cause by just washing it off. Because if bird poo sat on spinach in a field for a week, salmonella (or any disease that might have been in the poo) will have crept into the pores of the leaves multiplying and multiplying. So you can wash the poo off after the spinach is harvested, but the spinach is still infected and will make someone sick. Irradiation is fine by me – I will actually eat more salad and raw vegetables if I’m able to choose irradiated versions. And of course will still wash it to get rid of any residue.

  56. Sherryness says:

    @ChuckECheese: I already have super-powers – invisibility while driving! That’s my explanation for people pulling out in front of me all the time and making me slam on the brakes….

  57. crashfrog says:

    @SkokieGuy: Regardless of our opposite positions, do you have a problem with the two things I am suggesting; labeling & that non-irradiated alternatives remain available.

    None whatsoever. The only thing I have a problem with is pseudoscientific fear-mongering.

  58. provolone says:

    I don’t have any issues with irradiation. I don’t honestly know whether the methods used are safe or not, but it does seem comparable to a microwave.

    I use my microwave often. However, on occasions when I get shit on my food, I always throw the food away as opposed to making it safe to eat in my microwave. Of course, I am very careful not to get shit on my food in the first place, so it never happens.

  59. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @theora55: When I grow up I want to go to Bovine University.

  60. @crashfrog: I know someone who did animal studies, and she told me rats almost always die of cancer. It’s if they die of cancer sooner then they should that they say it could cause cancer. Most people balk when they realize that they almost always die of cancer eventually.

  61. Pithlit says:

    As someone who is still weak from a recent horrible bout of salmonella, I say bring on the irradiated food. It’s about damned time we caught up with the rest of the industrialized world on this. It’s ridiculous that we let unfounded fears hold us back on this. Ooooh, it’s radiation! That word sounds scary! Our food’s gonna glow! They haven’ done studies! They should have decided to rename it something way back in the beginning, like they did with MRIs and microwaves, and maybe we could have prevented some needless deaths. Welcome to the 21st century, everyone. And I say let companies advertise that they don’t use irradiation if they want, but I see no need to force companies to label. That’s ridiculous. If people are so damn fearful of technology that makes us all safer, let them grow their own damn food. Making them label it as if it’s something dangerous is only fear mongering. You claim that we don’t know the effects (which isn’t true, but whatever), but we DO know the effects of e-coli. In children and the weak, it shuts off their kidneys, and they die. I sure will love feeding my kids fresh spinach again.

  62. Orv says:

    @Git Em SteveDave displays attention-grabbing vanity: Yeah, my sister raises rats and several of them have died of mammary tumors. It’s very common.

  63. johnva says:

    @Pithlit: Specifically regarding your “no long-term studies” point: that seems to have become a rallying point for all kinds of whackjobs and anti-scientific luddites lately. It’s a favorite tactic of the anti-vaccine morons too. And in most cases where it’s waved around, it’s simply not true. I think that a lot of people are simply afraid of the rapid progress of science and technology, and react fearfully and defensively instead of informing themselves. Not all opinions on a scientific controversy are equally valid: those of non-scientists are barely worth even listening to at all. Now if only we could get the news media to actually weight coverage of things like this based on the scientific credibility of the person making a statement…

  64. Robobot says:

    This could easily trigger the second coming of the organic food-pricing movement. Now retailers will get to charge 3x as much for non-irradiated greens, just like they do for a lot of organic produce.

    I’m no scientist, so I’m not about to condemn or embrace irradiation. All I know is that a lot of people are strongly against the practice and they will pay out the nose to keep away from it.

  65. crashfrog says:

    @Git Em SteveDave displays attention-grabbing vanity: Yeah, exactly. My wife had a pet rat; all it did was sit around, chew cardboard, and eat mandarin oranges (like they were rat-sized watermelons, it was hilarious.) Guess what it died of? By the time it died there was more cancer in her rat than rat. ZOMG! Mandarin oranges cause cancer!

  66. AtomikB says:

    @johnva:

    If I was offered a choice between an irradiated vegetable and a non-irradiated vegetable, I would choose the non-irradiated one. I’ve eaten (mostly) non-irradiated food all of my life and I’m healthy and happy. I don’t percieve a need to expose my food to lethal radiation, whether or not it is safe, or whether or not it can decrease my chances of eating bacteria from .001% to .0001%. Just because this additional processing step won’t kill me doesn’t mean it’s necessary or desirable for me or my family. Like I said, it’s a preference. I live in a free country and I should have a right to know and decide what I’m going to eat.

  67. johnva says:

    @AtomikB: I don’t believe anyone has said that you should be forced to eat irradiated food. Actually, you probably already do, without knowing it (even if it’s just spices). But your reasoning is rather poor, I have to say. You don’t actually think that you only have a 0.001% chance of “eating bacteria” when you eat something, do you??

  68. Parapraxis says:

    @AtomikB:
    actually, in most events, a reduction of ten times in magnitude is DEFINITELY enough to warrant a change in policy. (see airbags, seatbelts)

    Let’s use your numbers:

    A reduction in the exposure to virulent bacteria from .001% to .0001% can mean the difference to about 297,000 people. (Assuming the population of the United States is 300,000,000 people)

    Factor in the quantity of aged and babies (1/3, to be conservative), and you’ve got about 99,000 people who wouldn’t be exposed to bacteria.

    And this is based on your own “number”.
    Maybe you need to think about this a little more.

  69. AtomikB says:

    @johnva:

    I think it’s fine to irradiate food as long as it’s labeled as such, so that I can choose whether or not to eat it.

    Obviously I eat all kinds of bacteria all the time, most of which is harmless. My point is that I’ve never gotten sick from e-coli or salmonella or other dangerous bacteria in my vegetables, and the odds are that I never will — even if I never eat an irradiated vegetable. So this additional safety step is largely unneccesary and I want the option to eat food that hasn’t been irradiated.

    My concern is that once irradiation is declared “safe” by the FDA (and I’m sure it is safe, in the sense it won’t make me sick or dead), food processing companies will irradiate everything and not be required to label it. If that were the case, I would no longer have a choice as to whether my food is irradiated or not, because I would have know way of knowing.

    I just want to have a choice, and like I said before, I shouldn’t have to justify my preferences to the FDA or anyone else.

  70. Miguel Valdespino says:

    There will always be studies that say it’s gonna kill you right away and studies that say you’ll live 20 years longer. The trick is to look at the mass of literature. That’s why the WHO has accepted this as safe.
    .
    For those insisting on long term human studies, that’s not likely because no matter how long the study is, people will say, “Well, it’s not long enough”. If they have a sixty year study, then they’ll say they need multigenerational studies.
    .
    I also hope people compare the mysterious danger that has been mildly suggested by some studies to the very real danger based on the contamination that exists today. A danger that is absolutely proven and has a body count.

    I like labelling. However, that makes it really easy for a vocal minority to use FUD tactics to scare people off of this. Which is what the majority of irradiation oppoents use. (luckily there has been a more rational discussion here) If the scare-mongers succeed in limiting sales of this, they won’t use and food will stay as dangerous as it is now.

  71. crashfrog says:

    @AtomikB: If I was offered a choice between an irradiated vegetable and a non-irradiated vegetable, I would choose the non-irradiated one.

    So let’s label the non-irradiated food, and make sure the label is a big biohazard symbol, and make sure there’s a big red alert informing you that, according to the Surgeon General, eating non-irradiated vegetables can expose you to a significantly greater risk of food-borne illnesses.

    How can you object? I mean, since it’s just about informing the consumer, right? Allowing them to make their own choices? Fearmongering with big scary labels has nothing at all to do with it, right?

  72. OnceWasCool says:

    People should avoid drinking organic unpasteurized apple juice and cider. Pickers are not suppose to pick up apples that are on the ground since deer and other animal fecal mater (do do for those who live in Tennessee) on the ground will contaminate the apples. “Mexicans” are paid by the basket. So there are rules and there are what people do.

    To be safe, irradiate them before processing to eliminate the danger of another outbreak.

  73. dangermike says:

    What nobody here is stopping to think about is just how much irradiated food will help the environment. Just think about the energy and materials savings we’ll reap with the obsolescence of the refrigerator light bulb!

  74. johnva says:

    @Parapraxis: In reality, the risk posed by foodborne illness far exceeds any risk caused by food irradiation (which, if you believe the scientists, is mostly an imaginary risk). But yeah, he was just making up numbers to justify his gut feeling.

  75. AtomikB says:

    @crashfrog:

    Food should be labeled with the goal of informing consumers, not scaring them. If they want to label irradiated food as “certified sterile” or something less scary, that would be fine. If they want to label non-irradiated veggies “may contain live hazardous bacteria”, that would be perfectly accurate, and would not deter me from buying that vegetable. I already know that washing and cooking food is frequently necessary to make it safe.

    My safety is ultimately my own responsibility — so I should be able to make my own choices about what kind of food I want to eat, based on accurate information about that food.

  76. johnva says:

    @AtomikB: You’re still using very poor reasoning. The mere fact that you think you haven’t gotten sick from one of these illnesses is not a valid public health argument (actually, you may well have gotten mildly sick with one of them in the past without knowing it); it’s anecdotal evidence. Over the whole of the population, irradiation likely provides a large net safety benefit.

    Look, I’m just questioning your reasoning. Why do you care about whether there is a “choice” if you don’t think there is anything wrong with irradiation from a safety standpoint, AND you believe that it could actually reduce the chance of foodborne bacterial infection? I think producers should be perfectly free NOT to use irradiation, if they choose not to. But I think it should be more along the lines of how organic food or rGBH-free dairy labeling works now: the companies that don’t do it should be free to label their product that way, but we shouldn’t force scary radiation labels on everything else.

  77. johnva says:

    @AtomikB: We could extend your logic about “choice” via labeling. Should producers have to disclose every aspect of how food was produced and handled at every step in the process, on the label, in the name of “choice”? Even if all the scientific evidence shows that a lot of those practices are totally benign from a safety standpoint? For example, should they have to list detailed data on what animals were fed, in case someone cares about that? Or what exact organic or non-organic fertilizer or pesticides were used to raise vegetables? What refrigerant was used to cool the trucks that shipped it to your grocery store? Whether the trucks used biodiesel fuel or not? You get my point. Sometimes labelling is unnecessary, AS THE DEFAULT OPTION, when scientists have shown that a practice is perfectly safe and a good idea from a food-safety perspective. Companies would still be perfectly free to label their food as irradiation-free if they think there is a market for people who want to pay more for that or whatever.

  78. Pithlit says:

    @johnva: Yep. You and I are on the same page, my friend. It’s such a shame when it holds us back. It makes me want to bang my head against the wall. It’s hard for me not to go a little overboard in my rants, sometimes. I don’t think it does any good to go all out on personal attacks or anything. But it’s really hard sometimes. This would more than likely save many lives.

  79. AtomikB says:

    @johnva:

    I wasn’t aware that I needed a reason to want a choice! I thought freedom of choice was universally recognized as an American value, and a goal in and of itself.

    I’m glad you brought up the labelling of “certified organic” food. This type of food is produced because many people prefer food raised without pesticides and other agricultural chemicals — even though these chemicals are generally recognized as safe and eaten by the majority of Americans every day. But it’s not a question of safety, it’s a question of the consumer’s preference.

    It doesn’t matter what words are used to label irradiated or non-irradiated food (ideally they should use plain english not intended to frighten people), as long as consumers have the ability to distinguish one type of food from another.

  80. Pithlit says:

    @johnva: I wonder if more than a few might change their minds if they got as sick as I did with my recent bout of salmonella. I’ve never been so sick in my entire life. It was 7 days of pure hell, and I would give just about anything to never have to go through it again. If I weren’t a healthy 36 year old woman, it would have put me in the hospital and might have killed me. It may be another month before I fully regain my strength. In fact, I’m starting to suffer from joint pain, which is a possible complication of salmonella poising, and I have another follow up appointment with my doctor because of it. No fun.

  81. johnva says:

    @AtomikB: I’m all for choice, if people want it. And I like the idea of more information being available. But I don’t think the way to do that is to require warning labels on packaging. That’s why my position is that if someone wants to market their food as non-irradiated, then great! Go for it! I’d just prefer that the labeling not be enacted by the government as if irradiation were dangerous, when in fact the opposite is more likely (that non-irradiated food is more dangerous). The mere existence of a controversy (that is more political in nature than scientific) is not enough reason for the government to require labeling, in my opinion. Let’s say someone creates a political “controversy” over the religion of the workers who pick their tomatoes. For example, let’s say a group comes out and says that due to their interpretation of the Bible, they can’t eat tomatoes that have been touched by a non-Christian. Is the solution to this controversy to require all tomato producers to label their produce with the word “May have been handled by a non-Christian”? Or should the solution be that the people who care about this could try to market their own line of “Holy Tomatoes, untouched by heathen hands”?

  82. AtomikB says:

    As I said before, I don’t think labels on food should use scary language or give inaccurate information. In the interest of efficiency, it would probably be best to label the smallest amount of food possible. So in your “holy tomatoes” situation, only the non-heathen tomatoes should be labeled, since most tomatoes are not guaranteed to have been handled only by Christians.

    This is already the case with “certified organic” vegetables, which are labeled as such, while vegetables grown conventionally with pesticides and everything are just “vegetables”. If they extend the defenition of “organically grown” to mean non-irradiated, that still gives me the choice I’m looking for. I’m satisfied as long as I have a way of knowing how the food was produced and processed, based on its labels.

  83. Orv says:

    It’s worth noting that many forms of cooking — grilling, for example — have been shown to produce known carcinogens. Irradiation has not. People who are worried about getting cancer from irradiated foods should be refusing to eat anything cooked at a high temperature, as well; perhaps eating only boiled foods. It’s a small risk but a much larger and more proven one than irradiation.

  84. johnva says:

    @AtomikB: Well, if they just “extend” the definition of “certified organic” to include “non-irradiated”, then that actually takes choice away from me. What if I wanted vegetables that were grown organically, but I’d prefer they be irradiated because irradiated vegetables are safer? Now we’ve lumped this stuff into an “all or nothing” choice, for no scientific reason at all.

    I guess my main disagreement is that I think food SAFETY labeling requirements imposed by the government should be driven by science and not consumer demands. The organic label, BTW, is not purely a safety label, because safety is not the only or even primary reason people pick organic food. And anyway, the organic label proves my earlier point that labels should be voluntary. We don’t make all the “conventional” produce be labelled as “non-organic”. We instead ALLOW producers to voluntarily market their food as organic. We should make irradiation the default (since the scientists say it’s safer) and then allow producers to label as non-irradiated if they so choose.

  85. Ragman says:

    Food irradiation is not the same as microwaving. Microwaves (cell phones, ovens, etc) are much, much lower frequency and non-ionizing radiation. They only produce heat, although the heat itself may cause problems. Irradiation for food sterilization is done with ionizing radiation, which strips electrons and kills at the cellular level.
    Non-ionizing radiation freqs (TV, Radio, cell phones, WiFi, microwave ovens) < ultraviolet light
    Ionizing radiation freqs(X rays, Gamma radiation) >= ultraviolet light

  86. johnva says:

    @Ragman: Yes, it’s not the same type of radiation, and it’s good to clarify. But the real question is whether it produces anything dangerous in the food, and the scientific consensus appears to be that it does not.

  87. BytheSea says:

    @Xerloq: *waves hand* Where do you live? Eme – nardo218 at yahoo dot com.

  88. BytheSea says:

    @Trai_Dep: The reason they’re doing this to lettuce is that even if you wash lettuce in bleach, they won’t be clean because the leaves can suck bacteria and viruses up into the veins.

  89. hustler says:

    If I had a choice on which veggie, then yes. Chances are that I won’t know what I’m eating.

  90. bohemian says:

    Do not want.
    Instead of solving the problem that was created by large mass production produce farming and commingling crops they throw another layer of processing on top that we really do not know the long term outcome of.

    So great, now there will be yet another thing I will have to pay a premium for to avoid a crappy downgrade.

  91. johnva says:

    @bohemian: I agree that mass production farming is the underlying problem. I disagree that food irradiation is a “downgrade”.

  92. FrankenPC says:

    I got news for you all…gamma radiation is capable of knocking protons out of an atom. That’s right, converting matter from one type to another. Think about that when you eat gamma radiated food. What exactly are you eating?

  93. Trai_Dep says:

    @bohemian: Exactly.
    Look, mutant-lovers, it’s not that all of us are afraid of radiation – or growth hormones in milk – per se. It’s that these “features” are analogues for practices that likely mean the cows or spinach is processed in a way we don’t like rewarding.
    Factory-farmed, abscess-ridden, antibiotic-drunk cows chained in 4×10′ stalls from birth until they die, for instance. Or produce weighted down so heavily with feces that some companies don’t bother to clean.
    It doesn’t matter how they sterilize the feces coating the plants – I’d be equally unenthusiastic about eating shit if they shook it in a martini tumbler filled with Gray Goose. I just don’t like eating shit. Even clean shit.
    Yeah, I’m strange that way.
    Rather than fixing the problem, or mitigating it, they want me to give them money for polishing it to a luminescent sheen. But. It’s. Still. Shit.

  94. FLConsumer says:

    I’m leery of irradiation, mainly because I’ve not had the time to research it. If it’s damaging the DNA of bacteria, what happens when a bacterium doesn’t get damaged enough and a new mutant strain is produced?

    Similarly, what does irradiation do to the starches, proteins, and amino acids found in the food? I’d assume it damages those as well. Just what I want my body doing — assimilating damaged nutrients.

    @johnva: and @bohemian: Fully agree. The problem lies in the mass-production (and no regard for any food safety technique which might cut into profits, like shutting down the plant more than 1x/day for cleaning).

    Let’s fix the contamination issues first… E.coli comes from fecal matter, which most likely comes from the close proximity of large livestock farms to vegetable farms. Filter the effluent from the livestock farms AND filter the water used for irrigation and you’ll see this mess go away. BUT, with the agriculture industry measuring profits down to the thousandth of a cent, good lucky getting them to pay for it.

  95. Parapraxis says:

    @FLConsumer:
    [i]
    If it’s damaging the DNA of bacteria, what happens when a bacterium doesn’t get damaged enough and a new mutant strain is produced?[/i]

    Ultraviolet rays do that to bacteria all the time. In fact, that’s what’s happening to your skin at this very moment.

  96. papahoth says:

    Please tell me its not true, but I heard that the sun actually spreads radiation through out the solar system! Say it ain’t so Joe!

  97. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    I see the birth of a new super hero story here….

  98. crashfrog says:

    @AtomikB: I thought freedom of choice was universally recognized as an American value, and a goal in and of itself.

    Unless, apparently, we’re talking about the freedom of suppliers to choose not to label their irradiated foods, out of concern of consumers like you with their irrational, fear-based preferences.

  99. crashfrog says:

    @FLConsumer: Similarly, what does irradiation do to the starches, proteins, and amino acids found in the food? I’d assume it damages those as well. Just what I want my body doing — assimilating damaged nutrients.

    You should do some research about what happens in the stomach and intestine. Irradiation is nothing compared to the damage your own body inflicts on things like proteins and DNA. Starches don’t even survive your mouth; your saliva begins destroying them immediately.

  100. crashfrog says:

    Rather than fixing the problem, or mitigating it, they want me to give them money for polishing it to a luminescent sheen. But. It’s. Still. Shit.

    Christ, what do you think dirt is? Worm shit.

    There’s going to be the shit of something on some of your food. You need to get over it (and wash produce before you eat it.) The belt-and-suspenders approach, here, of food safety practices and irradiation are to make sure that the shit on your food doesn’t kill someone. But a world with no shit on food of any kind is simply not going to happen – not while crops need to be grown outside, in dirt. (I guess you can pay out the nose for hydroponics, if you want.)

  101. Trai_Dep says:

    @crashfrog: Or, y’know, not aggregate vast amounts of meat/produce into huge vats so that if infected material is introduced – hey, sh*t happens* – rather than contaminating an entire continental population, small, isolated incidents stay, well, small and isolated.
    These changes are only a decade old. It’s not as though agribusiness was running at a loss for the last 3,000 years until this recent change. The opposite: it thrived. So it’s perfectly viable.

    It’s remarkable that you’re so much in favor of eating more fecal matter daily. Free country, consenting adults, but leave the rest of us out of it? Please?

    * Notice how I did that? Gosh, I slay myself. I really do.

  102. FLConsumer says:

    @Parapraxis: I’m aware of that, but there are repair mechanisms in place to correct that. Many bacteria also possess similar mechanisms. At some point you do cause enough damage to prevent replication of the bacteria, but if you don’t, you’ve just created a whole new problem to deal with.

    @crashfrog: I’m fully aware of how the body processes normal proteins and starches. My question is what these molecules look like after irradiation and what are the consequences of the body attempting to use these modified molecules. There’s still debate over many of the synthetic chemical additives used in foods and cosmetics, with no real detailed studies on any of them. And that’s not even touching the GRAS (generally regarded as safe) ingredient list.

  103. FrankenPC says:

    @Parapraxis:

    It doesn’t DAMAGE the dna of bacteria….It DESTROYS the entire cellular infrastructure of the bacteria. You aren’t seeing the big picture with Gamma radiation. Gamma radiation at 1 million electron (1MeV) volts is capable of melting LEAD. That’s right. It destroys the strong nuclear force of LEAD. Gamma can do a LOT more than that. Depending on the exposure levels, it can break molecules down to component atoms or it can alter the atomic nucleus itself. Gamma is powerful radiation and should not be used on food. Food should be developed locally and consumed immediately. This is stupid and REALLY asking for it. The long term consequences of this could be really bad.

    This reminds me of NutraSweet. Everyone said: Oh no, it’s safe because the marketing people said so. ORLY? It’s F’ing formaldehyde. Redesigned. Cook it and the endo-thermic reaction re-converts the magical molecule back to FORMALDEHYDE.

    My god we are stupid.

  104. ageekymom says:

    Butter is bad for you… No wait! Butter is good for you!

    So.. who are you going to believe? Live long enough and everything that you were told will be disproved.

    Good luck!

  105. SayAhh says:

    *Kill the bacteria (PRO)
    *Enzymes and nutrition also eliminated (CON)
    *Possibly turn into Hulk from residual Gamma radiation (if ComiCon is almost here: PRO)

    Conspiracies:
    a) Tomato salmonella scare: tomato growers were trying to muscle major burger joints
    b) Jalapeno salmonella scare: blame it on Mexico; buy US grown
    (a+b) = sets up original plan for irradiating produce => irradiate meat so meatpacking plants can continue to let fecal matter to remain in your burgers, or worse, genetically-enhances E.Coli!!!

  106. crashfrog says:

    So it’s perfectly viable.

    You do know that your “perfectly viable” model was projected to cause the death by starvation of more than two billion Indians and Pakistani by 1990, right?

    And that it was only the development of new varieties, and new techniques, that prevented that from happening, right?

    But, you know, that’s fine. Let’s all go back to organic farming and by-hand processing. I mean, we’re Americans – it’ll be brown people that pay the price.

  107. crashfrog says:

    @FrankenPC: Gamma radiation at 1 million electron (1MeV) volts is capable of melting LEAD. That’s right. It destroys the strong nuclear force of LEAD.

    That’s not how melting works. (Lead’s strong nuclear force isn’t stronger than any other elements; the strong nuclear force is constant in this universe. And it has nothing to do with melting.)

    Depending on the exposure levels, it can break molecules down to component atoms or it can alter the atomic nucleus itself.

    Only as a function of its shorter wavelength and higher energy. Not because gamma radiation is a magic death beam. The energy you’d need to split a nucleus would be absurd. You’d require a photon of higher wavelength than anything we’ve ever observed.

    It should go without saying, not within the capacity of a food irradiation system.

    My god we are stupid.

    Who’s “we”, kemosabe? The truth is that you’re on the first page of “Quantum Physics for Dummies” and you’ve worked yourself up into concern about something completely physically impossible.

    Food should be developed locally and consumed immediately.

    I guess it’s convenient you’ve revealed yourself as an advocate of the death by starvation of every human being that lives outside the latitudes of 20 to 50 degrees, or so.

    Oh no, it’s safe because the marketing people said so. ORLY? It’s F’ing formaldehyde.

    NutraSweet is not formaldehyde. For one thing, it’s an ester, not an aldehyde. Like almost all esters, it’s fairly easily broken down into formaldehyde, because formaldehyde is the simplest possible aldehyde. But that’s true of most esters. And your food is packed with them. Esters are why foods have different smells and tastes.

  108. Trai_Dep says:

    @crashfrog: The generally accepted beginning of the Green Revolution is in the mid-50s. So your claim that this abomination saved the world is off by about half a century. Apples and (crap-encrusted) oranges.

  109. crashfrog says:

    @Trai_Dep: The generally accepted beginning of the Green Revolution is in the mid-50s.

    Not relevant to what I was talking about, but thanks for that.

    Apples and (crap-encrusted) oranges.

    Oranges grow up in trees. But we’d all like to hear your solution for growing lettuce in dirt without getting any dirt on it.

    And if you think organic, local farming can feed a world of approaching 7 billion people, you’ve never lived near a farm in your life. Even with the techniques we have now, malnutrition and its related problems are still the leading cause of death worldwide. And you want to take food out of the supply? Dangerous lunacy.

  110. j-yo says:

    Hey y’all, instead of taking steps to ensure proper and safe production of our foods, let’s just nuke the sh*t (literally) out of everything. The FDA thinks it’s a good idea, and you KNOW the government has our best interest at heart.

  111. MikeGrenade says:

    To everyone who keeps saying they don’t want shit on their produce: It’s already there, right now, only it hasn’t be sterilized. Nobody can fix it, unless you want to start paying real wages to lettuce pickers. You want to talk about prices going up?

  112. Trai_Dep says:

    @crashfrog: No, actually the Green Revolution cite is devastatingly apt, since you concern-trolled about the 7 billion people needing food (many of whom aren’t White!!) as a rationale.
    The Lets-Mix-Everything-In-Ginormous-Vats-So-Contaminants-Are-Spread-Across-The-Continent approach is a recent “innovation” that has negligible impact on Feeding Poor Brown Children. What did, was the Green Revolution. Which preceded this change.

    So yeah. This isn’t about saving the world: it’s about mega-corp distributors trying to spin the notion that so long as they perfume their excrement-laden meat and produce, it’ll be great!

    Rational people would disagree. Since pooling turns out to be an ideal vector to spread infectious diseases (duh), it’s smarter to stop the practice, not develop some convoluted, distasteful FrankenFood “cure”.

    But hey, have fun exploring excrement-related paraphelias. Free country. :)

  113. dragonprism says:

    This is why I grow my own in my garden.

  114. crashfrog says:

    @Trai_Dep: The Lets-Mix-Everything-In-Ginormous-Vats-So-Contaminants-Are-Spread-Across-The-Continent approach is a recent “innovation” that has negligible impact on Feeding Poor Brown Children.

    To the contrary. Modern food processing is how we can get perishable produce from where it’s most effectively grown to where the hungry mouths are. It’s not just about your strawman of “enormous vats”, it’s an entire system of food handling that’s absolutely essential to feeding the world’s peoples. “Eat locally” sounds nice, but it’s a recipe for nothing but world starvation, since so much of the human population doesn’t live on or near arable farmland. (And why would we want them to? People shouldn’t live anywhere near farms, or else we’re wasting the land. People should live in deserts, and on tundras, and other places where they’re not displacing crops we need for food.)

    it’s smarter to stop the practice

    Stop the practice of what? Growing food in soil, outside? Using fertilizers? You’re consigning billions to death by starvation.

  115. Hanzo says:

    Green Foods + Radiation = Hulk / Popeye?

    Want.

  116. Trai_Dep says:

    @crashfrog: straw-man argument. That’s all.

  117. jonworld says:

    This is just like cell phones…everyone said they were safe 10 years ago. Now scientists aren’t so sure about that…

  118. FrankenPC says:

    @crashfrog:

    I love it when I actually learn something from a positive poster. Thanks! How rare.

    -F

  119. FrankenPC says:

    @crashfrog:

    As much as I like reading your intelligent posts, what you said is not true. The nitrate drainage from massive over farming IS destroying the coral reefs via algae blooms. Talk your way out of that.

    And yes, local farming IS possible via vertically designed hydroponics systems. Zero nitrate loss, high speed sustainable farming. If you give me the “they are too poor to do that argument” then you aren’t thinking globally. That’s the idea…think globally. We need to TEMPORARILY stop buying iPods and get the sustainable farming to them.

    Large scale farming WILL suck the salt up out of the dirt and destroy it eventually. Turning farmland into deserts. The Sahara was Roman farmland at one point.

  120. vrn3b says:

    @SayAhh

    (c) Nutrients (and therefore health benefits) irradiated out of veggies so ppl have no choice but to turn to vitamins and pharmaceutical supplements. Big pharma (who funds gov’t and therefore FDA) wins.

  121. zyodei says:

    “The wise physician first tries to treat a condition with diet. Only then does he turn to medication.” -Dr. Mayo, founder of Mayo Clinic.

    “Let thy food be thy medicine.” – Hippocrates

    Have far we have strayed from the wisdom of these two “forefathers” of western medicine!

    It is from this viewpoint that I strongly oppose irradiating food. First, let me say that I don’t believe that irradiating adds anything dangerous to food. I believe you could eat it all day and you would be fine – it’s not radioactive, it doesn’t glow, etc. It is not what it might add, but what it might subtract.

    Natural food, the kind that humans have been eating for thousands of years, processed as little as possible from its origin, is man’s original medicine. Plants contain a vast variety of natural chemicals and ingredients that have healing properties. If you eat a steady diet of plant based foods, you are given your body a constant intake of medicines that are cheap, have no side effects, and no risk. Most pharmaceuticals are based on plants, but isolated and extracted and synthesized. This is a really stupid and expensive way of going about things.

    I’ll say that I used to be sick a lot. I used to eat a lot of crap food and shoddy meat. Since I’ve started to eat a more healthful diet based on natural foods, I just don’t get sick. haven’t even had a cold in years. Nothing at all. I certainly don’t worry about germs – I’m an elementary teacher, and the kids are always sick and sneezing. But I know my immune system can handle whatever I throw at it, because I give it what it needs.

    So, it is probably “safe” to eat. But, what is taken away? How does irradiation effect the molecular structure of the food? Does it leave all of the phyto-chemicals and enzymes intact? We just don’t know-if anyone can show me one scientific study that has even considered this, please let me know.

    The current American population is probably the most disease ridden ever in world history. I mean, 17% of GDP? Are you serious? I suspect the more we move in the direction of further processing our foods, devitalizing it, and cutting the link with the historical medicine humans have relied on, the higher this number will creep, and the sicker we will be.

    I believe that irradiated foods are appropriate only for a small segment of the population that has a compromised immune system, and even then only on a temporary basis. For me, give me all the shit, dirt, and whatnot you want. It will only make me stronger.

  122. neilb says:

    We have to get “outlawed” raw milk as the only way to get milk from cows:
    1. That are healthy and treated well
    2. Produce freakin’ nice-tasting milk

    I don’t want to have to get outlawed “raw” raw spinach in 10 years just because I want a product that is covered in feces. There must be a better way to manage the commodization of American food!

    We all take risks when we don’t sterilize the world. Some people buy antibiotic toilet cleaners that advertise cleaning below the bowl–let that (il)logic set in for 3 seconds.