When NOT to Buy Local, or When India and South Korea Kick Our Butt

Recently, Consumer Reports alerted us to the discovery of arsenic in
U.S. grown rice.  Where did it come from?  Arsenic is still used in
some fertilizers.  It does not break down in the soil.  Arsenic is
also used to treat intestinal flora in factory-farmed chickens, the
excess of which is passed with their waste.  Chicken manure is a great
fertilizer, but how were the chickens treated?  That is one of the
reasons I got chickens.  Besides the fresh eggs, I would know exactly
what went into my hens and what was coming out.  Arsenic is also used
to treat wood and for many other purposes, so as rice is grown in wet
conditions, the arsenic could have been absorbed from contaminated
ground water.  Another theory points to arsenic used in the past to
control the cotton boll weevil.

What can arsenic do to us?  Arsenic has been linked to liver, bladder,
and lung cancer, neurological damage, kidney failure, and heart
problems.  Yet in India, where arsenic levels are lower or
non-existent in rice, students far surpass U.S. students in math band
science scores.  Guess what is a staple of their diets?  South Korea,
who also surpassed our scores, has stopped importing U.S. rice.  Of
course, Mexican-American and Asian-Americans tended to have higher
levels of arsenic in their urine when tested here.  Best option: eat
a variety of grains, including quinoa, buy organic, and keep checking
where your food comes from.  Trust nothing without research.  Even
Trader Joe's Organic Brown Pasta Fusilli  had a relatively high
amount: 5.9 - 6.9 micrograms arsenic per serving.