I was informed today by my quarterly “Arizona Blue” newsletter, put out by our Health Insurance Provider, that the FDA has approved the irradiation of spinach and lettuce for sale in the United States. The process, it states, makes our food safer by “killing harmful contaminants such as salmonella and E. Coli.” The radiation levels are low and pose no danger to the consumer – though it is careful to note that we ought to still wash our irradiated produce. Of course, if I had been more up-to-date on these matters, I might have known about this earlier: most of the articles I found online were written during the late summer of 2008. Then again, if I had a television I might have heard about it from Lou Dobbs:
We are also led to believe by this article on MedicalNewsToday.com that nutritional value and taste will not be affected. In fact, irradiation is presented as the neatest thing since sliced bread. Or make that pasteurization. (“The CDC likens the process to the pasteurization of milk.”) Because of course THAT does nothing to the taste or nutritional value of milk. Furthermore, the article states that “Consumers will probably have to pay more for irradiated spinach and lettuce. Brackett said it might be around three to five cents a pound, “which is not all that much to guarantee safety”, he added.”
As for me, I’ll be opting out. I’m glad to know that the “Radura Symbol,” a nice, friendly-looking green plant thingamabob, will let me know which packages to avoid. I prefer to have my food growers take steps to prevent foul things from entering the food supply, rather than simply nuking the food after it’s been infected. I usually buy spinach at Trader Joe’s or the farmer’s market … but if all else fails I could finally get around to planting that garden. Spinach was, after all, one of the vegetables I’m told I can grow here in sunny Arizona.
One funny side note to irradiated foodstuffs: I recall some irradiated apples featuring prominently in a recent end of the world / killer supervirus movie, in which the lone survivors of a nasty bug break into a grocery store to discover, much to their dismay, that all the produce has rotted. All, that is, save some irradiated apples. Given that scenario, I’d agree that beggars can’t be chosers … but we are not so very poor, and there is no need to accept this “latest, brightest idea from your FDA.” (Lou Dobbs)