Organic food and supplement companies Sun Warrior and Garden of Life publicly detailed the importance of clean food practices, specifically at the farming level, proposing a new criterion for their popular products such as rice protein. Mike Adams of Natural News, known as the “health ranger,” has been working hard to create an extensive testing lab which aims to establish a new standard for clean food, analysing some of today’s most popular natural-food company products for ingredients such as arsenic, lead and mercury.
After Natural News contacted Sun Warrior and Garden of Life about noticeable levels of lead, cadmium and tungsten in their brown rice protein powder which came up in laboratory testing, the companies responded positively,
“Mr. Adams’ testing highlighted for us the importance of our commitment to support organic practices at the farm-level,” said Garden of Life Vice President of Science Jeffrey Brams. He continued to explain that this conversation “deepened our resolve to know each of our farmers personally, supporting them with the best practices, providing long term contracts with stable pricing and requiring them to adhere to the highest fair farming standards. Raw Protein is, remains and always has been safe.”The companies have made the commitment to limit levels of heavy metals in their soil and irrigation methods to the following:
Lead limit: 250 ppb
Tungsten limit: 50 ppb
Cadmium limit: 1000 ppb
Mercury limit: 50 ppb
To achieve these goals, Garden of Life has committed to visiting each farm site where their brown rice material is grown to test the water feeding each site for possible environmental contaminants including lead, cadmium, tungsten and mercury. Sun Warrior has also committed to being actively involved in the monitoring and site certification effort.
Mike Adams has also urged that the same standards be executed by other vegan supplement companies such as VEGA, Jarrow Formulas, Nutribiotic, Living Fuel, Nutribody Protein, Ultimate Superfood, Boku, Healthforce Warrior Food and more. To say the least, this is a massive victory in the struggle for clean food.
What’s Wrong With Heavy Metals?
For those of you that are unaware, plants can contain the highest trace amounts of heavy metals, which makes the issue prevalent for anyone who practices a plant-based diet. Oregon State University’s Small Farm branch released an article in 2008 which explains the hazards surrounding toxic heavy metals in agriculture:
“A heavy metal can be defined as a chemical element with a specific gravity that is at least five times that of water (considered one (1) at 39 oF for water). Specific gravity is a measure of density of a given amount of a solid substance when it is compared to an equal amount of water. Examples of heavy metals that fall into this category include arsenic, cadmium, iron, lead, chromium, copper, zinc, nickel, and mercury. Not all heavy metals are toxic to humans. In small quantities, metals such as iron, copper, manganese, and zinc are essential for good health. Heavy metals such as lead are also good industrial ingredients e.g. used in car batteries. However, these heavy metals become toxic when they do not get metabolized by the body and end up accumulating in the soft tissues. Ingestion is the most common route of exposure to heavy metals. In plants, uptake of heavy metals depends on the plant species and bio-availability of the metal in the soils. Since most of the ingestion of heavy metals occurs from consumption of plants, then addressing how plants acquire heavy metals can aid in controlling heavy metal toxicity.”The article goes on to explain the dangers of ingesting heavy metals in relation to a calcium and magnesium deficient diet, in which case excess levels of aluminum mobilizes calcium and heavy metals to move from bones to deposit in the central neural tissues. Arsenic is the most common cause of acute heavy metal poisoning in adults, which comes from the by-products of the zinc, copper and lead manufacturing industries. Lead is the number one heavy metal poison sourced from the soil itself, therefore lead is one heavy metal which should be carefully monitored in soil.
The EPA limit of naturally occurring lead is 400ppm, a limit which is often exceeded due to lead’s tendency to stick to clay and other very fine organic matter particles in the top 1-2 inches of soil, particularly older soil which has not been excavated for a long time.
The main concern about lead toxicity from plants is more so cautioned around the washing of the produce, such as leafy greens and root crops, which accumulate the metals on their surface. This should stress the importance of washing our produce.