Friday Reads: Arsenic and Old…Rice

With October fast approaching, I thought I would try a book that’s been on my list for ages, a novella called “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson (the Shirley Jackson of “The Lottery” and “The Haunting of Hill House” fame).

image via Good Reads

The story follows a young girl and her older sister, who have been exiled to their mansion on the outskirts of town, after their entire family is killed by arsenic poisoning, and the oldest sister was blamed. I’m only about 30 pages in, but so far so good. It’s one of those stories where I *think* I know what’s going to happen, but Ms. Jackson will probably prove me wrong. She didn’t become a successful and influential author by writing predictable stories, so I’m excited to find out the ending.

What has been disturbing to me about this book is the use of arsenic. A Victorian element, in plot devices for sure, but in real life, I’m horrified because of the new findings about arsenic levels in USA-grown rice. RICE. I had no idea, but arsenic is used in chicken feed as a cheap antibiotic, and when chickens poop, the run off goes into the soil and saturates the rice.

Sigh. What has become of our country? We’re obese, have high cancer rates and diseases, our food is practically all grown with shady methods (and I don’t mean ‘shade grown‘), and our planet’s landscape is looking so gross.

Aside from cutting out our favorite meal-time staple (and the worse news is, brown rice has HIGHER levels of arsenic than white rice), I’m going to start rinsing my rice before cooking, and then using 6 cups water to 1 cup rice, then draining the remaining water after cooking. Those methods apparently help reduce arsenic levels.

I read a lot about it this week, and some people are saying it’s really not a big deal, a lot of our food contains this amount of arsenic, but the worry-er in me is screaming OH MY GOSH WHY ARE WE LETTING THIS HAPPEN???

Who needs scary books when I can just read the news, eh?

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