There’s a lot of bad news about America’s food supply in this century: Terrifying pesticides! Increasing rates of food allergies and gluten sensitivity! Food poisoning! Junk food loaded with crappy ingredients, pushed on us from every direction using unscrupulous marketing techniques! Insane amounts of Earth-destroying packaging! Endocrine disruptors! Epidemic obesity! Food crops threatened by the demise of pollinators! Contamination with germs, vermin, and industrial chemicals!
It’s enough to make you wish we were living in that fictional 21st century where everyone simply takes meal pills that have the perfect balance of nutrients and absolutely nothing unsafe . . . but, of course, those probably would be made by giant corporations who care more about profits than real people’s health, so if that future had become our reality we’d be having constant scandals about the meal pills that turned out to be 90% petrochemical by-products and 9% rat intestines, or whatever. . . .
This is why I dodged, for more than a year, Katie’s request that I investigate irradiated spices for Kitchen Stewardship: I was afraid of what I’d learn! I didn’t want to give up the convenient dried spices and herbs I use in so many meals, or to keep on using them knowing that every speck was nudging my loved ones a bit closer to cancer! Although I buy most spices in bulk, scooping into reused bottles, at a food co-op that specializes in healthy, responsibly-sourced food, sometimes I can’t resist the even lower price per ounce of the $1 plastic bottles of spices at ALDI or Big Lots or Target. . . . I flinched from the prospect of discovering that those spices are dangerous and having to be all “elitist” about not wanting to be poisoned.
Good news!!! After hours of research, these are my main conclusions:
- It’s easy to find dried herbs and spices that are not irradiated yet are treated to reduce the risk of food poisoning, and this includes some of the most widely available and affordable brands.
- However, irradiation of spices and herbs does not make them radioactive or carcinogenic and really just doesn’t have many side effects.
- The reason I couldn’t find any irradiated food in my local mainstream supermarket appears to be that informative labeling led to consumer choice of non-irradiated products–much like the popular cereals that went GMO-free because of consumer pressure.
What a relief! Get the whole story in my article at Kitchen Stewardship!