Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 54

CHILDREN, PESTICIDES, AND FOOD - Kolmes That’s just one of the ways arsenic gets into our soil and water. Then there are certain types of crops like rice that absorb arsenic more readily. Aside from rice itself, rice syrup and rice flour, for example, are used in a variety of foods like pasta, crackers, cereals, cake, brownie, and muffin mixes. Many of them are labeled gluten-free because so many gluten-free products contain rice. What are the health effects of arsenic? Regular exposure to inorganic arsenic can cause a variety of cancers including lung and bladder. It’s also associated with cancers of the kidneys, liver, and prostate. Arsenic can also contribute to other health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And studies have found that it can cause reproductive problems and compromise the immune system. The USA Rice Federation says study shows that including a variety of brands of rice provides mea surable health benefits that outweigh the potential risk associated with exposure to trace levels of arsenic. We believe those levels do carry a risk. Why is this such a big deal for children? Because kids weigh less and are exposed to more arsenic per pound in the foods they eat. For example, just one serving of rice pasta can put a child over the weekly guideline we at Consumer Reports set for maximum arsenic consumption. Two cups of the rice drink would be the same. For a baby, three meals of infant rice cereal a day would put them over the limit in just two days. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration says that parents should consider options other than rice cereal for a child’s first solid food. This is why we think kids should rarely eat foods like rice pasta, rice milk, rice cakes, and hot and cold rice cereals. What about adults? For adults, two servings of most rices or hot rice cereal would put you at your weekly limit for arsenic. How can I reduce my exposure to arsenic in grains? Not all rices have the same levels of arsenic. With our latest research on which ones are the lowest, we’ve come up with a points system for adults and children to help navigate your way around these foods, which you can find on our website, consumerreports.org. If you’re a sushi lover, the good news is sushi rice from the United States has the lowest levels of arsenic compared with other rices. White basmati from India, Pakistan, and California was also low. Brown rice has 80 percent more arsenic on average than white. That’s because arsenic accumulates in the grains’ outer layers, which are removed to make the white rice. There are better brown rice choices like brown 51