Irradiation: Part I

By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Buy organic, buy local, read labels . . . get to know the origin of your food.

Did you know that a portion of our food is being “sanitized” by irradiation? Currently, U.S. food processors are able to irradiate poultry, beef, eggs, oysters, fresh spinach, iceberg lettuce and spices. I’m no scientist but that just seems like a bad idea. As I understand it, gamma rays, x-rays and electrons are being used to zap our food into sanitized submission. This irradiation supposedly ensures that our food is “safe” to eat. But there are a lot of critics that don’t buy that rationale. They believe irradiation is actually making our food unsafe to eat by destroying the nutritional reasons we eat the food in the first place.

As I was researching the topic, I discovered a paper written by The Food Irradiation Campaign (FIC) that candidly discusses the inherent dangers of food irradiation. Their conclusion is that food irradiation has serious implication for hundreds of millions of people and the technology poses many risks. One of the many risks that, in my mind, contradicts the whole reason for irradiation is that it kills off those bacteria that give warning smells when a product is going bad, making it harder for consumers to detect when the food has gone bad and is unfit for consumption. So, who is this supposed to be good for?

How does your body react to ingesting those yummy little morsels of radiation? How does the earth react when we dispose or compost those irradiated shells and leaves? What kind of waste is produced during irradiation? What is it doing to our children’s little developing minds and bodies?

How about just demanding that our food, from start to finish, be handled properly? Call me crazy but wouldn’t that be the safest, healthiest way to produce our food? As the Organic Consumers Association states, “Irradiated fruits and vegetables benefit the packer and grocer, not the farmer or consumer. The consumer receives an inferior product that appears fresh, but has depleted vitamins and enzymes.”

Tomorrow I will discuss some recent findings about irradiation and how to avoid foods that have been irradiated.

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  1. Mike’s avatar

    They use radiation to sterilize food? That’s messed up. God knows I’ve probably eaten worse than a head of lettuce that someone dropped on the floor. The thought of using radiation to kill bacteria never even crossed my mind. One day, some woman is going to give birth to a child with a foot growing out of its head. No one wants that.

  2. Mrs Green’s avatar

    My hubby researched this a couple of years ago when he went on a raw diet. I must get his articles and put them up on LGB. Thanks for the reminder on this important issue.

    It is concerning how much we mess around with our food and denature it.

    I’m all for reducing food waste, but not at the cost to our long term health.

  3. Wendy Gabriel’s avatar

    Mrs. Green,
    I would love to read Mr. Green’s articles! Let me know when they’re up on Little Green Blog! Thanks for your insightful comments.


  4. Becky’s avatar

    Interesting! I feel like my folks used to talk about this when I was little, but the worries about GMO sort of overshadowed the ones about irradiation. I’m glad to see someone bringing this back into the conversation!

  5. oscarstavern’s avatar

    It is truly scary what is done to food. But the current volumes of organic food can’t support a single state. Until we totally change our way of producing food, we still have to feed millions. Its sad. Even if farmers and food growers went competely organic – they could never process enough food to support demand. Its sad.

    Irradiation also comes from the sun.

    I try to buy as much organic food as I can.

  6. Rufor’s avatar

    Hi, Thanks for article. Everytime like to read you.


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