The idea of eating traces of arsenic – or serving arsenic-tainted food to your children – is pretty unsettling. Luckily there are ways you can reduce your family’s exposure to this toxic heavy metal. Here’s how:
- Prepare a wide variety of grains. Rice is one of the foods that’s most heavily tainted with arsenic (here’s why). Reduce your family’s reliance on rice by serving a wide variety of whole grains. Bulgur, farro, barley, millet, quinoa, and wheat berries are all delicious and can be used the same way you use rice. If you want a quick-cooking grain, choose quinoa or look for par-boiled grains (like the ones pictured above which I recently found at Trader Joe’s).
- Buy organic chicken. Arsenic is sometimes administered in conventional chicken farming to promote growth, add pigment to flesh, and prevent disease among chickens kept in close quarters. The arsenic gets into the meat and also in the water supply near these industrial farms, which means there is more arsenic in your food and in the environment. The use of arsenic is prohibited in organic farming, so buying organic chicken helps reduce your exposure.
- Buy organic food in general whenever possible. Organic foods do not necessarily contain less arsenic (organic rice and organic apple juice have just as much arsenic as the conventional versions when tested by third-party agencies) than conventional foods. But organic farming practices produce fewer emissions and do not use arsenic-containing herbicides which then seep into our soil and contaminate the land. Supporting organic farmers will increase the organic market and thus have a positive impact on the environment. Over time, your organic purchases help decrease pollution and the arsenic in our food supply.
What else you need to know about arsenic in food.