the question of arsenic in rice...

I was alarmed when I saw on the Environmental Working Groups (EWG) website where they talk about a new report released about harmful amounts of arsenic in rice. Read full article here by Sonya Lunder, EWG Senior Research Analyst and Dawn Undurraga, EWG Nutritionist. But the fact is that this is not a new problem, arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral, that is quantified by the use of pesticides. The rice that was tested in the a report released on September 19th, 2012 was reportedly NOT organic and NOT grown in California and for me this was not stated clear enough in the report. Before you get too alarmed, if you are buying your rice from Whole Foods you are probably buying Organic or rice made by Lundberg, which is a GOOD thing.

So let's start from the beginning. The report states that:

The testing done by Consumer Reports confirmed that rice has much higher concentrations of arsenic than other grains, fruits and vegetables. That's partly because rice is sometimes grown in fields that have been treated with arsenic-based pesticides in the past, but in many cases it's because rice plants have a natural tendency to take up and concentrate naturally occurring arsenic in the soil and water. The FDA says it needs to test 1,000 more rice samples to clarify which rice-growing areas present the greatest risk of contamination. But consumers can take protective steps while the FDA collects data and ponders regulation - a process that could take years.

Since many people are turning to rice-based processed foods due to gluten-free diets this is a particular concern. People should try to mix their grains and find other replacements such as, quinoa, barley, polenta, couscous or blugur wheat, among others.

read the full report here

So I went to talk to my trusted friends at the Kushi Institute, figuring that NO ONE in this country has eaten more rice then the people at KI! (it is a Macrobiotic staple) and I knew that they have researched this issue since it is not a new one by any means. I spoke with Maria Ellis, who is the Kushi Institute Asst. Director, she stated that for their rice suppliers they exclusively use Lundberg Farms. "The research on rice grown in different areas showed Lundberg Farms scored consistently on a lower scale for arsenic. California rice in general scores on the low side, as the problematic rice in general has been found to come from fields that cotton was grown prior to rice (cotton was not generally grown in California) that were sprayed with pesticides containing high levels of arsenic.  We also only use or sell organic rice, which combined with the area it is grown also helps ensures lower levels."

She also went on to say "Epidemiological studies on Asian countries where rice is a dietary staple show extremely low rates of cancers and other health issues that arsenic would have played a negative role in. So obviously the naturally occurring levels or arsenic have not been a problem through history, it is the modern industrial farming methods that use arsenic in soil treatments that seems to be the main issue.

Other modern chemicals leading to health problems should also be considered and avoided, which is why we highly recommend using certified organic food whenever possible."

Lundberg farms continues to develop new testing procedures, as stated on their website.
Which states that they have conducted their  own independent outside labs for testing and they have been satisfied that their product is safe. They are also conducting ongoing tests to better understand the ongoing effects of consuming large amounts of rice.

something to ponder... it is important to get the facts, read these reports and decide for yourself how you are going to go forward with the rice issue.

click here to read the Lundberg report
click here to read the report out by the EWG
click here to find the report by the FDA
click here to find the report by Consumer Reports

the image included with the consumer reports article shows the typical rice products which were tested