Saturday, September 29, 2012

Arsenic And Old Rice

OK! I admit that the title is a bit cheesy, lol. But if you have not seen the movie or play 'Arsenic and Old Lace' go see it soon. It is a classic.

Lately there has been many articles written about arsenic found in American grown rice. I have taken particular interest because since I started a 'whole foods diet' my rice consumption has increased tremendously.

So here is the story about how arsenic got into our rice supply. It has been found that rice grown in the southeastern states has a higher arsenic content than rice grown in other parts of the United States but it seems that most rice has some arsenic content, especially brown rice.

For many years, in the south, we used an arsenic based insecticide on our cotton plants. It just so happens that the states that were the largest cotton producers were also the largest producers of rice. The FDA finally made arsenic based insecticides illegal but it takes 40 years for all traces of the insecticide to leave the soil.

So how did the arsenic move from the cotton fields to the rice paddy's? The key is in arsenic's property of solubility in water. Yes, arsenic is soluble in water. So through the process of normal rain arsenic is washed from the soil and sent into the water filled rice fields where it is absorbed readily by the rice plants.

Rice holds a majority of the absorbed arsenic in its outer layer which is removed when rice is refined into white rice. This is why brown rice contains more arsenic as it is unrefined.

I would imagine that one would have to eat a lot of brown rice to be adversely affected by the arsenic content and warnings are now being issued.

I love brown rice but I have changed back to white rice as a precaution. Sometimes what is better for us may not be all that good for us.


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