Over the years there has been numerous calls for concern surrounding the contamination of meat and produce. The bacteria, E. coli, in particular, clearly stands out in my mind, as I can remember a time when raw spinach disappeared off the shelves of markets due to possible e. Coli contamination. This, of course, was certainly not the only case of bacteria contamination in food…
The solution to food contamination was not to adjust the food industry practices, which were ultimately leading to the contamination of the food itself, but rather to start practicing irradiation.
Irradiation is now a standard procedure in treating inorganic foods before reaching the end consumer.
“The Food and Drug Administration has approved irradiation of meat and poultry and allows its use for a variety of other foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and spices. The agency determined that the process is safe and effective in decreasing or eliminating harmful bacteria.” –FDA.gov
If you are not familiar with the irradiation process, you may be thinking that irradiation is a swell idea—and in some respects, if Big Food is not going to take responsibility over the cleanliness, and quality by which the food being produced is grown and raised, then I would certainly not oppose the irradiation of food, if it meant knowing that a friend, or family member’s purchase of inorganic spinach, or whatever, is going to make them deathly ill, but that is another story entirely.
I am often asked how important it is to buy organic produce, and my answer is:
For someone looking to start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their diet, but are concerned about expense, I would much rather them buy inorganic fruits and veggies, than be turned off to eating fresh produce in general.
Personally, while I always try to buy and eat local, or organic, it is not always possible. However, there are reasons as to why I try to avoid buying produce from Big Markets that promote cheap, inorganic produce, and one of those reasons is irradiation (and of course, all of the chemicals and pesticides that are usually prevalent in cheap produce too).
What is irradiation?
When food is irradiated, it is exposed to extremely high-frequency gamma rays, for a very short period of time. The irradiation process is so powerful— it is capable of deeply penetrating into the food it zaps, and altering the cell-structure of the food.
Irradiation has been legal in the United States for over 35 years, and is used to kill insects, bacteria, and parasites. It is also used to alter the natural life cycle of plants, for instance, causing fruit to be delayed in ripening, or preventing certain foods from sprouting.
While irradiation may seem like a good idea (especially for Big Food), it ultimately destroys the living enzymes, and nutrients in fresh produce. Literally, irradiation is capable of killing the very nutrients we seek when eating fresh produce.
“Just as radiation therapy has been shown to deplete vitamin B12 and vitamin D in cancer subjects, so has food irradiation been shown to deplete B vitamins as well as fat soluble vitamins like A and E in irradiated food” (Haas, pg 479).
Additionally, the average chest x-ray is 300 million times smaller than the dose of high-frequency radiation that is used to irradiate spices and seasonings in order to prevent insect decontamination. That is 3,000,000!! Yikes!
Being that much of inorganic food is irradiated these days, I do my best to limit my consumption of it as much as possible. I cannot even begin to imagine the consequences irradiation will have on future generations (i.e. How will it affect our cell structure and offspring?) If Big Food improved the ways in which they raise, and grow “food”… irradiation would not be a “required” procedure.
And hey! Don’t be concerned if your sweet potato is sprouting a tail, it ultimately means that it is living!
*Information from “Staying Healthy with Nutrition” by Elson M. Haasm M.D. with Buck Lein, PhD, R.D.
How do you feel about irradiation?