Okay, so it’s pretty obvious there are two ways to purchase food like vegetables, meat, dairy- the conventional way (pasteurized, factory farmed, use of pesticides/herbicides) or the unaltered way (organic, pastured raised, raw). If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m all for the unaltered way… you know, the way nature intended.
But did you know that the spices you are cooking with have most likely have been altered with? When I mean altered, I mean they weren’t just grown, dried and packaged.
Have you ever heard of irradiation?
Irradiation is used in all sorts of foods, including spices.
What is irradiation? Irradiation means that certain foods undergo a process called ionized radiation which increases shelf life (preservatives) and kills any bacteria that may be existing on the food. Ionized radiation includes gamma rays from nuclear materials, electrons from electron guns, and x-rays. <– Yikes!
Irradiation is pretty similar to pasteurization in that it greatly reduces bacteria and enzymes to make it “safe.” For example, strawberries that have been irradiated with last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator but actual fresh strawberries will last only a few days. When you buy something from a legitimate local farmer, the food tends to spoil quickly ensuring a sign of safe food.
We need good bacteria and enzymes to keep a healthy digestive track so when they are virtually eliminated by irradiation our body works harder to digest food. This is why it is so important to eat truly raw foods because these foods are the carriers of beneficial bacteria and enzymes- *nudge* go get yourself some raw milk and cheese!
Irradiation creates free radicals, damaged DNA, damaged vitamins and enzymes.
Pretty much the food gets zapped with radio waves and although we can’t see it on the outside, the food has been denatured and loses many of it’s vitamins and minerals (anywhere from 2%-95%), particularly the antioxidant vitamins A, E, C, and K, which are necessary to counteract free radicals.  Don’t forget, free radicals are known to be a common cancer stimulator.
Foods that can be labeled in the U.S.? 
- 1963: wheat flour
- 1964: white potatoes
- 1986: spices, herbs, herb teas, pork, fruits and vegetables
- 1992: poultry
- 1997: beef
- 1999: refrigerated or frozen raw beef, pork, lamb and poultry
- 2000: eggs in the shell, seeds for sprouting (like alfalfa)
- 2002: imported fruits and vegetables
- 2002: meat purchased by the National School Lunch Program
Organic foods can not be irradiated.
Labeling of Irradiated Foods
Irradiated foods are required to be labeled with the radura symbol and some sort of text. Of course, with anything the government does, there is always a loophole where they can hide the truth to the people that deserve the truth the most- the consumer. The loophole? All irradiated foods must be labeled using the radura and some wording, but only to the FIRST PURCHASER which is often NOT the consumer. From what I interpret, that means a manufacturer can buy spices in bulk from the grower, bottle them using their brand and sell to consumers but are not required to have it labeled. Pretty screwed up, huh? Does this sound familiar to another topic that is so hot in California right now? Ahem, GMO Labeling anyone? What the heck is wrong with our country that everything can be so twisted and misleading?
Check out this irradiation fact sheet
Reminder about spices
It’s important to keep in mind that one of the main functions of spices and seasonings, besides adding flavor to food, is anti-viral and anti-bacterial. To name a few: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, garlic, lemon zest, and rosemary all act as “bug” inhibitors. So when these spices are zapped of all their beneficial bacteria that serve as medicinal purposes what purpose do they really have now?
To avoid irradiated foods it’s even more crucial to buy from your local, trusted farmer. Check your sources!
Until next time,
Loriel – Healthy Roots, Happy Soul
posted to: real food wednesdays