Yum Hey What's for Dinner Mom?: Be Aware of the Arsenic in Rice


Be Aware of the Arsenic in Rice

I heard about this on NPR and did a little digging so I could share it with you all. It was one of those fleeting moments when I wanted to sit in my car to listen but had to run an errand and so off I went. When I came back it was over. Thank goodness for the google.

Apparently Dartmouth College found high levels of arsenic in rice and surprise surprise it's naturally occurring. Apparently rice plants normally collect and condense naturally occurring arsenic in the soil and the water, we eat it and we're fine. Organic arsenic(naturally occurring) passes right through us, but inorganic arsenic is what can hurt us, and that's what they're finding. Rice plants inadvertently collect arsenic whether it's organic or inorganic.

So then what if the water or soil used to grow your rice is contaminated with arsenic already? Well then you're not fine, your getting too much inorganic arsenic and it's dangerous. Arsenic can be used in pesticides and it remains in the soil and runs off in to ground water. Plant a food crop later on that collects arsenic or flood a rice paddy with that water and you have a crop with too much arsenic. The scary part about this? There is NO real defined limits for arsenic in your food and the only country that has a limit for arsenic in their food is China. Shudder.

Organic Rice and Non Organic rice both can have the same amount of arsenic, it doesn't seem to matter which way it's grown. Except that organic fields don't use pesticides containing arsenic. Therefore organic rice crops should generally be safer and contain less arsenic if the farmers have been organic for a while. Check your food sources, know your farmer and your farmers neighbors. It's imperative to your health.

What can high levels of arsenic do to you? Kill you, but first it will make you miserable with a headache, diarrhea and drowsiness that get worse and more disturbing, then you die. It can also cause night blindness after long term exposure, yikes!

What does all this mean?

  • Beware of how you mix your rices. WHAT?? If you are eating a granola bar with puffed brown rice, puffed white rice, rice flour and brown rice syrup that's a whole lot of rice in one place, probably more than you need. 
  • Rice milk in large quantities can be a large slug of arsenic at one time, try almond milk to change it up.
  • Also baby food is sweetened with brown rice syrup as are lots of foods marketed to children, read your labels, educate yourself, if a product has more than 1-2 forms of rice you  may want to pass on it.
  • Try to the best of your ability to know where your food comes from, how it's grown and if you can the farmer.

We are eating rice in ways that no one ever has to avoid wheat and gluten but is it a safe alternative?

Peace and Love--



  1. Thinking about food can be scary, can't it? The only thing I know to do is not eat too much of any one thing. But, of course, that's hard, too, since there are only so many starches from which to choose!

  2. wow. really glad i found your blog through prudent homemaker. i'm reconsidering rice now.


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