Hello Fairy Followers.  Whew, the holidays are over!  5 members of my family (including me) had the flu during the past 10 days, so let me say it again… whew, the holidays are over!!  There’s nothing like getting back to a routine to make a person feel secure and happy.  And oh, how I love my calm stomach.

During my research for GF baking tips a couple weeks back, I visited the blog of The Gluten Free Goddess, and came across something that scared me.  She does not use brown rice flour because of all the negative press about arsenic in brown rice.  Since then, I have stared long and hard at my brown rice tortilla that I eat almost every morning for breakfast.  I need to know more, and you need to know more.  This post title – Arsenic and Brown Rice, made my husband say out loud “sounds like that play about poison”.  That would be Arsenic and Old Lace about the 2 elderly aunts who use arsenic to poison lonely old men.  I hate to say it, but there is a common thread here.

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Arsenic comes from:  Organic arsenic appears naturally in rocks and soil, and is believed to cause no human health concerns.  Inorganic arsenic is a common ingredient in fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides, is used to preserve pressure-treated wood, and is a known carcinogen.

Arsenic does what to the human body (from WebMD):  Reduces production of red and white blood cells, causes nausea and tingling in extremities, and is related to higher levels of skin, bladder and lung cancers.

The FDA had not set a safe limit of arsenic in food, but they have in water:  10 ppb/liter.  Consumer Reports tested 220 rices and rice products and found 1.3-9.9 ppb/portion.  A portion is 1/2 c of cooked rice.  The FDA has since tested 1300 rice products and found ranges of 2.6-7.2 ppb.  Rice syrup is a common ingredient in infant formula, and rice cereal is often a baby’s 1st solid food.

Arsenic dissolves easily in water, and its chemical structure immitates nutrients, so soggy rice paddies are the perfect medium for these grains to absorb a generous dose.  Brown rice is eaten with the outer germ in tact, which holds a higher concentration of arsenic, while white rice is processed to remove the germ.  That’s it!!!  I’m changing to white rice, which I love, but isn’t white rice like white bread – a big No No??

From WebMD:  The lowest levels of arsenic in US rice were detected in CA rice, and the highest were in Southern states where cotton used to grow and pesticides were used to fight the bol weevil.  Arsenic stays in the soil for many years after application.

Populations that are heavy rice consumers are generally healthier than the overall population, and have less overall disease rates.  That one fact makes me feel a little better, considering the amount of rice I have consumed in 28 years of being gluten free.   Then I find that the FDA says “arsenic is not going to be toxic in the short term”.  Long term risk – “the really serious work is yet to be done”.   Can someone please define short-term and long-term!!

photoMy husband discovered a new tortilla – black rice tortillas, made by Food for Life.  It sort of looks like my countertop.  I tried one with butter and softened it in the micro-wave, and it was a little drier, but meatier than the brown rice version.  The black tortilla has 40 more calories, and is made from black rice flour and organic brown rice flour, whereas the brown rice tortilla is made from plain brown rice flour (non-organic).  I e-mailed the Company to ask what their arsenic guidelines are, and what levels are in their rices.  I have not heard back, but will certainly pass the word when I do.  And now that I’m a little paranoid about brown rice, I brought home a new bread with Chia seeds.  It tastes a little like pumpernickel and rye combined.  Not bad.  Probably would be great with ham, cheese and mustard – not that great with eggs this morning.  photo

OK, the New Year has begun.  Lets talk about positive changes in our lives, shall we?  I like to make one small change every new year to improve my health – stopped using nail polish one year, stopped drinking diet soda one year.  This past year I focused on the ingredients in my skin/hair and makeup products, and have slowly changed over to “healthier” versions.  Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” website is an excellent tool to check the toxicity of a product.   They rate health and beauty products with a scale of 1-10, 1 being the safest (according to the product’s ingredient list).  I look for products with a rating of 3 or under.  Then I go to the Beautypedia website by Paula Begoun and look at the effectiveness/reviews of that product.  If it gets good marks on both websites, its a winner.  You would be on the right track to a healthier lifestyle if you changed just 2 products in your health and beauty line this year:  lipstick and deodorant.  Women eat pounds of lipstick per year, and deodorant is so close to breast tissue and lymph nodes.  I guarantee it will give you peace of mind if you apply a friendlier product in those areas.  My husband would love for me to stop coloring my hair, but I’m just not ready, so this year my goal is to find a safer way to do it, for a few more years anyways.  I hope each of you Fairy Followers find at least one small, healthful change to make in your life that you can commit to, and carry out in 2014!!  Baby steps.

The 5 most popular New Years resolutions are:  lose weight, improve fitness, exercise, get a new job, and eat healthier.   More specifically: “I will lose 5 lbs. this year”, or “I will exercise 15 mins. a day”,  or “I will send out 5 resumes/wk”, etc.  This is what the experts were blasting all over the media this past week…that we are all sick of hearing by now!!

Did you know that Safeway has a new program called Simple Nutrition that identifies GF foods with a brown label?  SNTags_T07030301_Gluten118x51

Did you know that some vitamin E’s are derived from wheat?  This sounds like a topic for more research in 2014.

Did you know that fast food burgers and taco meat can legally contain up to 40% wheat?  I heard this at a seminar but could not verify that % anywhere.  Taco Bell publishes ingredient lists of all products, and many have gluten, or oats that they say contain wheat (from cross-contamination, I’m sure).  Hey, if Folgers coffee contains wheat, everything is suspect!!  Oh we are on a long and winding road.

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If you all don’t know by now, Downton Abby starts tomorrow night.  Woo Hoo!!

A quote from Arsenic and Old Lace:  Insanity runs in my family.  It practically gallops.

Health.com says about black rice:  Black is the new green when it comes to healthy eating.

It is also known as purple rice or forbidden rice (because in ancient China it was considered the finest grain and was served only to the emperor).  It rivals blueberries in its antioxidant qualities.    It is high in nutrients:  18 amino acids, iron, zinc, copper, carotene and several vitamins.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my Followers.  Wishing you good health and happiness in 2014.  The Gluten Free Fairy

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