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Chill it and grill it | Arsenic in your rice

Posted Oct 05 2012 5:01pm
When I first came upon this post about grilled polenta I was very excited. We had just acquired our first gas grill and I was grilling everything in sight. I love polenta and couldn't wait to try it on the grill, and, I just knew Cadry's post was going to be one of my links for the first week of vegan mofo. What I didn't know was that my photo was going to look like this. I pictured the polenta all golden with toasty grill marks - you know, like Cadry's.

Around the same time, I had a copy of Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker to review, and I decided to try the recipe for chipotle-polenta bake. The polenta was delicious, and I had what seemed like a brilliant idea to use the leftovers on the grill. I carefully pressed the leftover polenta into an eight-inch square dish, and refrigerated it overnight. The polenta was nice and firm the next day, and I didn't anticipate any problems. OK, so I knew the polenta was kind of brown and not gold, and might not be as pretty as plain polenta, but what I didn't consider was my polenta had things in it - beans and corn, for example - that might affect its cohesiveness.

What started out as polenta squares soon started crumbling once they hit the grill, and ended up being roundish and uneven. And they were brown. Oh well. They tasted good even if they looked like ... $@&?/#. Next time - plain polenta!


Arsenic with your rice?
Have you been reading about the alarming amount of arsenic that has been found in rice? And I don't just mean bags of grain - I mean rice cakes, baby rice cereal, rice flour, rice pasta, rice crackers, rice syrup, rice crispies - all rice products. It doesn't matter if they are organic or conventional, brown or white, all rice products are affected, though rice from different growing areas may contain more or less arsenic. And from what I've read, brown rice is worse than white. Arsenic has been used in pesticides that have been applied to fields, and also fed to farm animals whose arsenic-tainted excretions are used for fertilizer. Did you know, for example, that chickens are fed arsenic to make their flesh pinker? (Chicken manure plays a big roll as fertilizer in certain states with large chicken production.) Arsenic is believed to cause skin, bladder and lung cancer.

Rather than reproduce material that's already available, I'm providing two links with information about arsenic in rice, and I encourage you to read them, especially if you are pregnant or cooking for children. The Consumer Reports article gives a complete report including name brands and how much arsenic the products contain.

I'm adding a third link about arsenic, and other unwelcome additions to animal feed. This affects not just those who consume animals, but all of us. Manure from arsenic-fed animals is used for fertilizer, adding arsenic to the soil.

Consumer Reports: Arsenic in Your Food

Getting Arsenic Out of Your Diet   EWG (Environmental Working Group)

Arsenic in Our Chicken? Nick Kristof op-ed NY Times

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