Volume 9, Issue 1, page 7

What Can We Eat Safely in Fallout Age?

Body's Preference for Calcium Over Strontium
Is Big Factor in Escaping Mass Food Poisoning

From ORGANIC GARDENING and FARMING. Copyright 1962 by Rodale Press, Inc.

DESPITE all the newspaper coverage
being given to the atom tests, fallout shelters, and contaminated rain
water, it is almost impossible for
the average person to draw from that
mass a true and accurate picture of
what fallout really means to him
and how he can best protect himself
and his family.

It is my personal opinion that
it is not possible for anyone to tell you
whether an investment ina fallout shelter
will ever be repaid or not. That is something you will have to decide for yourself, based on where you live and how
much chance you might have to get in the
shelter if the need arose.. I am not going
to build one myself because I am an optimist and feel that in this case everything
is going to work out for the best in the
long run. But the last thing I would do
is to presume to know enough to advise
others to follow my example.

My main concern is to present you with information about fallout from atomic tests and
tell you what you may be able to do to take in
less strontium 90 in your food in future years.
I have been doing a little studying in this
area (Pennsylvania) and have discovered certain facts that I would like to pass along. It
is important that you understand the basic nature of strontium 90, what foods it is found
in, and how much you are likely to consume,
because it is going to be with us for a long
time. And if the tests continue, strontium 90
may become an object of immediate concern rather than a vague cloud hanging over our heads.

Let's start at the beginning. Man has been
living with radiation as long as he has occupied this globe. The rocks in the fields and
the bricks in your house give off rays known
as background radiation. This background radiation is very low in intensity and as far as I
know no one has ever claimed that it is harmful. We are also receiving cosmic radiation
from the solar system, but that is even lower
in intensity than background radiation. Our
activities in the atomic age have added to the
amount of radiation we are getting, principally
by contaminating the air, water, and earth with
strontium 90. But so far that contamination
amounts to a small fraction of the amount of
radiation we get from the "background ".

When government spokesmen make statements
to the effect that we will not be harmed by
fallout from bomb tests, they are basing these
opinions on the knowledge that radiation from
such fallout is at a very low level compared
to natural radiation. However, certain factors
are at work which occasionally concentrate
fallout effects.

First, there are "hot spots" created by
weather conditions and air currents. While the
average amount of fallout over the U.S. may be
quite low, certain small areas may receive
much higher amounts of radiation. There is no
easy way to find out where those areas are, but
the possibility of their existence justifies a
cautious attitude.

Second, children are more subject to strontium 90 hazards than adults. Strontium 90 is a
close relative of calcium and usually associates itself with calcium. Because children are
building calcium into their bones as they grow,
they are picking up more strontium 90 than we
adults. While the chances are low at this time
of anyone getting leukemia from strontium 90
build-up in his bones, such a happening is more
likely in children than in adults. So if you
have children in your family, it is advisable
that you pay more attention to the strontium
90 hazard.

Third, eating habits have an important effect
on the amount of strontium 90 you pick un and
retain in your system. The blanket statement
that strontium 90 is not a hazard at this time
is based on the average American diet. But individually our diets vary a great deal, and
some people are eating far higher amounts of
high-strontium foods than others. You can
readily see how averaging out all our eating
habits could hide some potential danger spots.

Before I get into a discussion of which
foods have more strontium 90 in them than others, I want to point out that it is the ratio
of calcium to strontium in food that largely
determines its safety or danger. Fortunately,
the human body prefers to retain calcium rather
than strontium, and if given a choice between
these two substances it will retain much more
calcium than strontium. For example, milk contains in total more strontium 90 than many
other foods, but because it also contains a
lot of calcium our bodies are able to select
most of the calcium and reject a large proportion of the strontium. It may help you to understand this selection process if I bring up
the subject of the strontium unit, the common
unit of measure of strontium 90 contamination.
One strontium unit consists of one micromicro
curie of strontium 90 per gram of calcium in
the food being rated. The strontium unit value
of a food expresses a true picture of the
amount of strontium 90 that is likely to be
retained in the body as a result of eating
that food, and the best way to get protection
from strontium 90 is to make up your diet of
foods that have low unit values.

Keep in mind, however, that it is probably
not advisable to make drastic changes in your
diet at this time. Many health factors other
than strontium 90 should be considered when
selecting food. Also, it has been found that
test animals in a high state of health as a
result of good nutrition suffered less from
radiation than unhealthy animals. And food
supplements of natural vitamin C and dessicated

(continued on page 8)