Arsenic and Old Lace, one of my favorite movies of all time. Cary Grant, Boris Karloff and Peter Laurie are all spectacular in the movie and the two lovely older ladies, who do in their old boarding house guests, are absolutely adorable. I always see “Teddy Roosevelt” charging up the stairs with his saber up in the air and poor Cary Grant, who is in a panic, especially when he is sitting on the window box seat that holds a poor deceased former house guest and realizes that his two beloved aunts are responsible. The poor lamb, I think that it is this movie in particular, that audiences realized the comic brilliance of Cary Grant, I still can’t believe that he never won an Oscar for any of his performances. He won an honorary Oscar for his body of work but never one for a particular movie.
I have arsenic on my mind because once again, arsenic is being discussed in the news connected to a food source, this time in our domestic rice. Last year, we had Doctor Oz warn people about the hazards of arsenic in apple juice, especially if the juice company was getting its apples from China, they still use arsenic in their pesticides. That started a whole national discussion where the F.D.A was angry with Doctor Oz, accusing him of being sensationalist with his reporting and not doing his research. In the end Doctor Oz was vindicated and people are reading labels making sure that the apples are organic or at least not coming from China.
This year, we have been alerted to higher levels of arsenic in our rice, rice grown domestically down South. There are two reasons for the high level of arsenic, the first reason is that our factory raised chickens are given small amounts of arsenic in their feed to kill certain bacteria and to give their meat a pleasing color, the resulting waste from the farms and the chickens, gets washed out and leaches away in the rivers and eventually in the soil and many rice farms coexist with factory style chicken farms. The second reason is that there exists a high concentration of arsenic in the soil down South because years and years ago when they were cotton fields, they were treated with arsenic laced pesticides, and even though those pesticides aren’t used anymore, it takes an extremely long time for the arsenic to die, leave or whatever arsenic decomposes into, if anything at all. The kicker is that rice is grown in water, therefore the arsenic permeates the whole plant. Thus Doctor Oz has suggested that to make the rice less toxic, rinse it repeatedly in water until it runs clear and to cook it as you would pasta, in a lot of water, and then when it is done, you rinse it again before eating it.
I would go even further and not purchase United States rice, I would buy rice from Europe where there is markedly less exposure to arsenic, arsenic occurs naturally in the soil but we aren’t talking about the levels that we have found here down in our Southern part of the U.S.
I wanted to start the conversation off with a happy thought on arsenic, the subject of a very entertaining movie before I got into detail of yet another food controversy here in the good old U.S of A.