Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Arsenic and Brown Rice

By now I have to assume that you've heard the news of Brown Rice and Arsenic.  WHAT?  You're kidding right?  Something that is suppose to be good for you, is bad for you?  Now that you can't eat wheat you find the only ingredient for any possible healthful ingredient for gluten-free bread substitutes is now bad for you?

High arsenic levels have been found in brown rice because rice has an affinity to arsenic.  In fact my guess would be if you were trying to pull arsenic from your fields, plant rice.  Rice seems to love sucking up the arsenic.  It then stores it in the Bran, the place where all the nutrients are also stored.  Polish the rice, remove the bran and the arsenic also is removed.....along with health necessary vital minerals and vitamins.  This product is better known as white rice.  What do we do?

According to Foods Matter in their article Rice and Arsenic - what is going on?, some countries and locations have higher arsenic levels than others.  Here's where I have to eat crow.  As an known opponent to Chinese Food it appears that China has actually set into place a plan to limit the arsenic levels in rice, probably because of their higher consumption of rice in general.  The above article states that the safest places to obtain your rice from are:  Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese, Chinese, Egyptian, Thai and the worst places: American, European (esp. Italian & French), Bangladeshi.  The American delima seems to be that we often grow rice on former Cotton fields where the source of arsenic in the soil seems to be the pesticides used on the former cotton crop.  One option offered, with the second article in the above article series, was to suggest breeding a rice that did not take up as much arsenic.  WOW, isn't messing with God's created product and the possible reason many today can't eat wheat?  Are you serious?

Because of my affinity for local foods and REAL FOODS I went to Lundberg's web site.  Lundberg Organic Rice has been my go to source for Organic Rice for many years. I found that they have dedicated an entire section on Arsenic in Food where they have revealed a honest overview on their study of the subject and their game plan.

According to  the Organic Trade Association, in its article Arsenic’s presence reflects a wider problem for all food production; "Legacy residues from decades of routine use of arsenic-based herbicides and insecticides pose a real threat to all food production, organic and conventional. Regardless of how it is raised, rice plants growing in soils still contaminated with arsenic will extract the element from the soil, and some will be present in the grain harvested from those plants."  While the article commented on the problem of arsenic levels it did not state why this was not picked up and excluded in Organic applications.

PC Naturals in a recent article on the Arsenic in Brown Rice issues stated, "Organic certifiers may order soil testing if they have cause for concern but organic program officials have told us soil testing is rare and results are not consistently reliable. Organic methods do not guarantee low arsenic levels, since any rice or other plant growing in arsenic-laden soil will absorb whatever compounds are in that soil. Rice grown in California, however, is documented to contain much less arsenic than rice from the Southeast and, in at least one study, organic brown rice grown in California had the lowest arsenic levels of any rice tested. PCC sells bulk and packaged rice, organically grown in California by the Lundberg family.

Nutrition Educator Nick Rose, M.S., replies: Also keep in mind that when arsenic is found in rice, the form of the arsenic is "bound" to carbon and much, much less toxic than if it were the "free" arsenic form. Most of the trace amounts of arsenic found in rice is the organic type, which is of less concern, whereas 100 percent of the arsenic in drinking water is inorganic, or the more harmful form."

This means I can buy US Brown Rice as long as I know it is organically grown in California by the Lundberg family! YIPEE

In explaining ways to reduce the impact of the arsenic in your brown rice the article went on to say, "Researchers in India found we can remove some of the arsenic by rinsing raw rice well and cooking it with extra water. The traditional method on the Indian subcontinent — washing rice until the rinse water is clear, cooking it with six cups water to one cup rice, then discarding the excess water — removed up to 57 percent of the arsenic in rice."

I will be making up another experiment in creating a wholesome, gluten-free flour blend today and happily I will be using my Lundberg Brown Rice. When I've created that perfect blend that works and has nearly the same nutrients that I lost leaving wheat behind I will share it with you all.

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