Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's bad for you!

Karada ni warui!

When I got back from Hokkaido, I got, as expected, a rather lukewarm welcome from the Pumpkin Princess. At least she had a pleasant stay with her granny.

Today's phrase is in honor of the poor Chinese babies who drank milk tainted with melamine and developed kidney stones, but whose government hadn't done much to prevent it.

It is also in honor of the current tainted rice scandal in Japan. The sale of rice is regulated by the government. Most of the rice sold as food is domestic, but we've succumbed to foreign pressure and started importing a while back. Which, is in itself, not a bad thing. The down side is that when rice is imported, you don't know the quality of the rice (rice production is heavily regulated in Japan, which makes for high prices but at least if you buy domestic, you have a pretty good idea of what you are getting). Sometimes it comes with a higher than acceptable level of pesticide. This rice gets labeled unfit for human consumption, and is used for things like adhesive. Sounds good, right?

Well, it is. If it worked the way it was supposed to. As it turned out, one company was buying rice for industrial use (i.e. cheaper than the market price for rice intended for human consumption) and selling it to food manufacturers to make things like rice snacks. They were buying rice with a high concentration of methamidophos (pesticide not used in Japan but still sometimes used in China), letting it sit in their warehouses until it got moldy and, more importantly, the concentration of methamidophos went down to acceptable levels, and then sold it to snack manufacturers. They've released a list of companies that have bought tainted rice, and I would not be the least bit surprised if the Pumpkin Family had eaten toxic rice snacks once or twice. It's also made its way into school lunches and convenience store onigiri.

One more good reason to base your diet mostly on whole foods...

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