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THE MOST DANGEROUS FOODS
Taken from Utne
Reader, Francine Stephens and Betsy Lydon.
Edited and enhanced
by Steve Van Nattan-
The main concern in this list is pesticides and contaminates in the ground from pollution and chemical use. This is not meant to imply that all such vegetables are contaminated all the time. It DOES mean that these items have been caught a higher percentage of times compared with other foods.
1. Baby Food-- Tests by the National Academy of Sciences indicate that Federal standards are not tight enough. The Environmental Working Group in Washington DC in 1995 found 16 traces of pesticides in 53% of baby food tested. Alternatives are hard to suggest since organic companies are not any more certain due to poor testing by the Feds.
There is a myth out there that Gerbers, and other baby food companies, prepare baby food in a way that is better for your baby than you can prepare it. LIE! Make your own baby food. Plastic crankable mills can be purchased to grind the food you cooked for yourself. It is also more interesting to your baby, and it has not been cooked to death- Literally! Baby food is highly heated to avoid risk of food poisoning. So, that is why so many baby food products are "fortified". God did not make garbage which baby food producers have to rework in order to raise the food value. They simply kill the food, so they have to add vitamins etc to get the food value back up. Caution: Avoid feeding the baby leftovers to prevent all chances of food poisoning.
2. Strawberries-- 70% of all strawberries tested in one study in 1993 were contaminated by at least one pesticide. Some farms use 500 pounds of pesticide per acre. By the nature of the fruit, it is also hard to scrub the pesticides off the outside without destroying the cosmetic appeal of the fruit. Imported strawberries may be even less scrutinized. Just don't eat strawberries unless you or a friend raise them.
3. Rice-- Rice is a major snack ingredient in baby food cereal because it is low in allergy activity. But rice is very bad about drawing contaminates from the soil, and foreign rice farmers have little or no restriction on them. If you can afford it, buy natural or wild rice. Also, soaking the rice and rinsing it can help. Basmatti rice has been aged, so the half life of the pesticides may be more reduced by time.
4. Oats-- In 1994, the FDA found so much contamination in Cheerios that General Mills had to destroy a major quantity of the product in their warehouses. Actually, the cardboard box of Cheerios may be better for you than the Cheerios :-) There is no indication that General Mills recalled what was on store shelves. Organic oats alternatives are available but expensive. You may want to avoid pre-cooked oats and soak the oats and throw the water away and cook them in fresh water. Also, prepared cereal flakes etc are the most dangerous of choices since they also have added chemicals to enhance flavor and preserve the product. This risks co-functional activity between pesticide residue and the "approved" preservatives-- a co-factor which has not been tested since it is assumed it could not happen.
5. Milk-- To boost production, dairymen inject cows with growth hormone. This may well be done at levels which are illegal since so many people in the USA today have no conscience anymore. Growth hormones will affect humans adversely if ingested for long periods of time.
79% of cows get mastitis, an udder infection, and are treated with antibiotics. This should be no problem if handled lawfully, but the antibiotics often get into the milk where dairymen are greedy and cheat. An occasional use of this milk would not do any great harm. But continuous use of the contaminated milk by kids could do some real damage and add to the tolerance to antibiotics by microbes, which is now creating chaos in the medicating of US people. Organic milk is one choice. Another is to make a deal with a farmer in your area who is not playing tricks, and get the milk from the farm. Powered milk may have lower levels of contamination since the dairyman is not under as much incentive to cheat since the milk is not as vulnerable to loss if it is going to the powered milk processors.
6. Bell peppers-- 1992-1993 tests by the FDA showed 6 pesticide varieties in peppers. 38% of the Mexican peppers had the highest levels of neurotoxins according to the EPA. Since the EPA does not work the border inspection stations, it is up to the USDA to catch this as it enters the US. To avoid Mexican contaminates, don't eat peppers in the winter which all come from Mexico. Also, cantaloupes, celery, pears, and green beans are said to follow bell peppers, in that order, as contaminated. I have never heard that Mexico exports pears, and I don't believe it, so I think the report is mixing US pears with Mexican imports, and I think that can be ignored. One solution is to use bell peppers only for cooking, but throw the first water away.
7. Bananas-- There is little or no control of pesticide and chemical use on bananas in the country of origin. Sobenomyl, which causes birth defects, and chlorpyrifos a neurotoxin, are commonly used on bananas. In Costa Rica bananas make up only 5% of the cultivated land, but 35% of the imported pesticide is used on those bananas. What is the alternative? There is none. All commercial banana growers of the world use chemicals and pesticides in massive quantities. It must be noted here, at the risk of sounding disloyal to the cause, that neurotoxins used against insects are not always a problem to humans. Pyrethrum, a natural product taken from and African daisy, is not necessarily dangerous to humans in small doses, though it is one of the most powerful insecticides known. So, let us not panic-- let us look for alternatives and enjoy life anyway.
8. Green beans-- More than 60 pesticides are used on green beans. Neurotoxins and an endocrine disrupter have been found in baby food made of green beans. Nearly 10% of Mexican green beans are illegal in levels of contamination. When Bill Clinton called for food providing nations to allow US inspectors into the fields in their countries, conservatives mocked at him. He happened to have a very good idea. An alternative is to grow your own green beans and can them, or buy them during the US summer at farmer's markets from those whom you feel you can trust and then can them.
9. Peaches-- The FDA recently cited peach growers for 5% contamination. One grower's crop was cited at 80% over the legal contamination level. The crop is simply rejected. No farmer will ever face a jail term for these tricks. Until penalties include jail terms for very high levels of over poisoning, there will be no change. Grow your own peaches, or find a farm where you can pick your own and can them. Your lust for fresh peaches in January could very well add to your poor health troubles.
10. Apples-- While cancer producing Alar has been banned, 36 different pesticides are used on apples. One single apple was tested and produced 7 different pesticides. Combination factors are not tested, so the possibilities are fearful. The fungicide captan and the insecticide clorpirifos are used extensively. Good news-- Apple growers are some of the very few growers who are voluntarily making changes to clean up their act. The fact is, you cannot have a perfect apple in the northern US states without using pesticides. Don't let any health food nut convince you otherwise. You CAN get perfect apples in the US southwest from untreated trees. Some farmers in California use sulfur which is an alternative, but it is worthless in Michigan. Alternatives include buying or scrounging apples from farmers you trust and can them. Also, if you buy store bought apples, soak them in a mild soap and scrub them. Apples are an easy fruit to clean.
11. Shrimp-- One in every so many persons eating shrimp will get very sick and often suffer permanent heart damage. I had a piano customer in Michigan who nearly lost a very healthy sister to one meal of shrimp. The problem is NOT the person-- It is the shrimp. It is NOT worth the risk when so many other fish choices are available.
Remember, shell fish, and many other sea food critters get their food by filtering the bio-organisms from sea water. This process means the creature is processing huge amounts of sea water in order to sift out the nutrients it needs. In the process, the sea animal also may take in heavy metals and other contaminates in the water. If you eat a lot of sea food, try to figure out what fish is from deep water, NOT coastal zones. Also, shell fish is highly suspect since most of it is gathered from shallow water near points of contamination. Federal rules are almost always being pushed to the limits, so you KNOW there is a certain quantity of contamination in ALL shell fish. You are the guinea pig. Be a smart one, and eat only deep water fish products.
12. Almonds-- Almonds will form strychnine as they age. If you have old almonds in candy, throw them away please. I got this once, and it is really hard on you. A small child or older adult could die from the pounding the body gets from food poisoning. The vomiting episode alone could kill an older person who is already weak or suffering heart trouble.
13. Chicken meat-- Chickens and other poultry are given growth hormones to cause fast growth. The hormones are injected in the neck, so DO NOT cook the neck-- Throw it away. Don't use it to make gravy. Some growers DO cheat, as I am told by an Oklahoma farmer, so this is not just my imagination at work. Animal growth hormones account for some impotence in men. Save money on Viagra-- Throw the chicken and turkey necks away.
14. The artificial sweetener, Aspartame-- It can kill you. Visit our page on the topic.
15. Hydrogenated Oils-- Try to find products without Hydrogenated oils in them. Why is this so hard to do?
Now, if you have any sense those qualities should already signal trouble. Why should the hardened oil act any differently in your tummy than it does in the box sitting in you car. You run up to 98.6 degrees, and that car runs up to 130 degrees on a summer day with the windows rolled up. We are told that the hardened oils do NOT break down completely as quickly as we would think.
How is the oil hardened? Hydrogen is pumped through the oil in the factory. When I was a kid growing up in Kenya, we had a field trip to the Blue Band Margarine factory in Nairobi. We got to see the modern machines and the hydrogenation process at work. That was in the 1950s, and the factory had been there already for some times. People world wide have been eating hardened oil for many years. margarine has been around since before my Dad was born. The process has remained the same for all those years, and the research has not been done. If hydrogenation were to be condemned, a fierce force for destruction would tear the food industry to pieces. Many foods we now take for granted simply could not be delivered to us in any form that we could tolerate.
Research on hydrogenation is very sparse considering how long it has been around, but here is what I found:
I suggest you read our article on Fat in Your Meat.
16. Imported Hot Sauce, Chutneys, and Salsas-- Recently I found a bargain on quart bottles of Mexican imported hot sauce. It was 99 cents a bottle. I took a couple home, and it was very agreeable in quality of flavor. I don't care for southern French hot sauces much since they load them with vinegar to preserve them. The French love vinegar, which seems to run in their blood, so Louisiana hot sauce follows that formula. A really good hot sauce should be a balance between salt and vinegar.
The problem is that with enough salt and vinegar the sauce can be under cooked, with the result that biological critters can be left unkilled in the sauce. The first batch of hot sauce I bought went well, but the second time I loaded up on several bottles. I started getting severe diarrhea, and I had a real time of it to figure out why. I finally suspected the hot sauce, and I asked my wife to put it on the stove for a slow long boil. We are at 5000 feet altitude, and it takes longer to kill bio-critters. So, we boil longer. Well, that took care of the problem, and we are working our way through the hot sauce. No need to throw it away.
With all the imports of canned sauces and chutneys from Mexico to Bangladesh and Thailand, I would caution you to apply some do-it-yourself procedures as we did, then go ahead and enjoy the goodies. The problem is that shipping is now much faster than in years past, with some goods coming by air. The products can actually transport pathogens on the outside of the container, and some contamination will hurt you, though it may not actually cause the product to rot, which would of course signal you to not use it.
17. Toothpaste poisoned? Here is a letter from a reader:
While searching for the title "Let the buyer beware," I washed up on your website. The purpose of my search was to find the--is it Latin?--words for the above phrase. That would be Caveat Emptor. Thank you.
I'm writing an editorial to my local paper, warning parents of a shocking practice by a major producer in the US.
To date, Procter-Gamble is the only guilty party that I've run across. What they are doing is putting sodium saccharin in children's toothpaste. You remember saccharin--the cancer causing sweetener that was banned in the 70's, but some beaurecrat decided to allow it back on the market.
So now, Procter-Gamble is putting a cancer causing agent in children's toothpaste to offset sugar and still give a sweet taste. Check out both Colgate and Crest versions of children's toothpaste. They advertise no sugar and hide saccharin in the ingredients list.
Please pass this practice on to your readers and anyone else.
I would not suggest you panic over any of these foods, but start thinking of ways you can get them from sources you know about. Buying in the supermarket is blind faith in the unknown. There are crooks raising and selling food just as there are in other walks of life. Middlemen and store managers cannot possibly determine what food is safe. Don't harass them over this please. Wash food or peel it as much as possible.
Virtually ALL pesticides are NOT safe. They are killing tools, and they can ALL cause you trouble is you eat them before they break down. All pesticides have a half life, meaning that the pesticide has to break down at a fixed rate. The common pesticides like Seven and Malathion break down rapidly and are not nearly as terrible as health food nuts claim, IF you wait as instructed to pick and eat the food after treatment. The problem is, these old standbys are losing their effect on tougher bugs which have mutated to resist older pesticides. In any case, the longer you store the food listed above, the longer it has to break down. Some of the chemicals though are not half life controlled since they have entered the soil in non-agricultural scenarios. This unknown factor cannot be measured or predicted, and storage time may not affect it at all.
Last of all, it would be real smart to grow your own lettuce if possible. We have heard of farm workers who stop to relieve themselves and get a morbid joy out of peeing into a head of lettuce. While your odds of getting that particular head of lettuce are very low indeed, it would be virtually impossible to get all the effects out of head lettuce. If you are going to buy lettuce in the stores, wash it and soak it well before using it.
Do not let this discussion take over your thinking-- Just use some common sense.