Ah mercury. Considered toxic in even the smallest of increments, mercury in our fish hardly qualifies as news. We’ve been warned about that for years now.
But what you may not know is that a recent federal study of mercury contamination found the poison in every single fish tested in nearly 300 streams across the U.S.! This is not good news. It’s the largest study of it’s kind ever undertaken. More than a thousand fish were tested in 291 streams from 1998 to 2005. And the results — and their implications — are staggering.
How did this come to be?
Three words: Coal powered electricity. The mercury released from coal-fired power plants rains down into waterways. According to the study, the majority of the mercury in the waterways tested came from coal powered plants. Granted, some offenders were mining operations and cement plants. But the largest culprit is our lust for dirty energy.
What the study reveals is that this sort of contamination isn’t isolated to areas immediately surrounding power plants, but rather that the problem is widespread. It affects all of us.
There is no easy way to put this. Besides fertile soil, the most important geological asset we have is clean water — and not just to drink. Almost every traditional people group recognized the unique value of seafood in protecting the fertility of their tribe. Even cultures that lived many miles from the sea or waterways would make the difficult journey to the coastal peoples in order to trade for the all-important sea foods. Poison our seafood, and you poison us.
In large amounts, mercury toxicity can damage your nervous system & immune system irreparably leading to mood disorders and nerve damage. In small amounts, mercury contamination can create more mild symptoms like depression, fatigue, insomnia, dulled senses, and memory loss.
What can you do?
First and foremost, we need to attack this at a social/political level. We must not stand for this, and we must demand that these polluters clean up their act. Call your congress people and encourage them to work for legislation that will address these specific concerns. And if you are at all able to purchase clean, renewable energy for your personal use, by all means do so!
Next, you need to protect yourself. Only buy or consume seafood listed on the Food & Water Watch’s Smart Seafood Guide. If you can’t find these sustainably caught, wild fish in your local market, consider checking out the sources on my Resources page.
Finally, consider adding standard detoxification measures into your diet. Eat more superfoods, particularly spirulina. Work raw cilantro and garlic into your meals. Take probiotic supplements. Drink kombucha. Eat plenty of protein from meats, as this acts as a shuttle for mercury and other toxins and helps to eliminate them from the body.
This post is participating in today’s Fight Back Fridays carnival, hosted right here at Food Renegade. For other interesting stories, articles, news items, and recipes concerning Real Food, go check it out!
(photo by davipt)
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