September 1, 2011

Fukushima And Eating Low On The Food Chain

Bio-concentration in action
"Eat low on the food chain" was a saying popularized by Frances Moore Lappe in her 1971 meat-busting book Diet For A Small Planet. Her work highlighted the wasteful nature of grain-fed beef, and called for a plant-based diet, arguing that it was best for our bodies and the world.

But there is a new reason for leaving meat behind - the deadly nuclear fallout that has been spewing from the smashed and melting Fukushima power plant since 03/11.

This is what scientist Helen Caldicott said recently about radiation, food chains, and our health:
"Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae - crustaceans - small fish - bigger fish - then humans; or soil - grass - cow’s meat and milk - then humans. This process is called bioaccumulation and comes in two subtypes as well, bioconcentration and biomagnification.)
After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emittersmigrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer.
Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time."

Fukushima radiation has already entered our food chain, just like Chernobyl radiation did in 1986. These particles, depending on what kind they are, could last for thousands of years. The thing about a nuclear accident is that it has a start date, but no real end date.

Animals bio-concentrate toxins, including Fukushima radioactivity. Creatures closer to the top of the food chain, such as tuna, salmon, and cows will accumulate more radiation than those low on the food chain. Soon you'll be able to eat a salmon steak or T-bone at night without turning the lights on.

The closer to the bottom of the food chain, the lower the concentration of contamination, generally speaking. For example, sardines may have lower concentrations than the larger predator fish. And plants, being at the bottom of food chains, will accumulate the least amount of radioactivity.
Fukushima fallout cloud, May 08, 2011

Eating a plant-based diet may be the best way to reduce exposure to nuclear stuff like the "hot particles" that were detected raining down on North America in March and April, 2011.

These will find their way into all our food eventually, but bio-concentration will see radioactivity increase as you go up the food chain.

In Japan scientists have already found cows contaminated through eating radioactive rice straw infected by the radioactive cloud still issuing from the melting Fukushima reactors.

Governments are behaving negligently in not informing their citizens of the dangers we are being exposed to. There was some talk of Canadian government scientists testing a popular 'high on the food chain' meat, salmon, for radiation, but I have seen no results yet. Radiation has already been found in west coast seaweed, so be prepared to hear the worst possible scenario - our food supply has been irradiated.

When it comes to radioactive particles, small reductions in exposure matter, and eating low on the food chain may reduce exposure. Frances Moore Lappe would be horrified at this turn of events, but would agree that a meatless menu is the way of the future.

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