One Sunday around lunch time, while playing in the park around the corner from church, which is in a neighborhood much more upscale than our own, we heard the children from a more local family cheering their parents’ lunch selection. “Sushi! Sushi! Sushi for lunch!”
People. Not. Like. Us.
We got burritos.
As striking as the differences were between our two families, I now can look back and see that there was nevertheless a common bond. Both of our meals revolved around the same ingredient. It was, in fact, a staple ingredient to dishes all over the world. A global food that sustains two thirds of the humans on this planet. One third of the planet receives fully 70% of its calories from it. Rice.
What could be better than rice? Except brown rice, that is? Brown rice is listed as an official “Superfood,” even if it is not quite as yummy as its paler counterpart. Regardless of its hue, rice is the savior of the gluten intolerant, whether that intolerance is due to digestive or political reasons. Rice helped me slam my cholesterol down more than sixty points once when it got too high. Rice even had a year named after it in 2004, when the UN declared “The International Year of Rice,” which some say was the UN’s crowning achievement. The official year’s slogan was, “Rice is life.”
Life indeed. In fact, it is traditionally the first “solid food” we serve our babies, in the form of rice cereal. Okay, it has all the consistency of baby formula, so it’s hard for me to really consider it a solid, but who am I to question the baby experts who call it your Baby’s First Solid Food? It’s a special milestone, for Pete’s sake. Don’t ruin it.
So I’m not going to ruin it by insisting that rice cereal is not “solid food.” No, I’m going to ruin it by directing your attention to the news reports from last week that informed us that rice is poison.
Yes, we have all spoon-fed our children poison while cooing and snapping pictures. Doesn’t that make for happy memories?
Rice, it seems, likes to soak up all that yummy arsenic from the insecticides in the ground. And brown rice, that so-called Superfood, is super-duper at packing an arsenic punch, since the fiber and nutrient-rich bran has not been milled away. And it’s the outer layers of the rice that soak up the most contaminants, no surprise. Even organic rice sponges up what was left of the arsenic from the land’s pre-organic-farming days. And it’s no small amount.
Rice has typically ten to forty times as much arsenic as the maximum allowable parts per billion for drinking water. Either that’s going to give us a Rasputin-like tolerance for poison, or it’s going to kill us. Me, I’m hoping the former.
But in the meantime, I’m just a little beaten down about all these reports on how we are poisoning our kids. When mine were babies, there was something about the lining of baby formula containers being poisonous, which made us ecstatic to graduate to rice cereal. Had we known!
How many more of these freak-out studies can we take? Just tell us that something is healthy — anything — Twinkies! — I don’t care! Just make it something.
Or the next thing you know, they’ll be telling us that fresh air and sunshine are bad for you.
Huh?… What’s that?…