This food - it glows?
February 8, 2010 4:47 AM   Subscribe

 
Half life: 1.28 x 109 years? So, not really that radioactive then.
posted by BigCalm at 4:52 AM on February 8, 2010


Salt is fine. Apparently, black pepper causes cancer.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:52 AM on February 8, 2010


Potassium-40(K-40) is a naturally-occurring radionuclide. Wherever there is potassium, there is potassium-40. If there is enough potassium, the K-40 can be detectable with a simple survey instrument.

So presumably bananas are also radioactive?

I don't get how salt substitute is supposed to work. Potassium chloride is still a salt. And even more generally, it still dissolves in water. Which means that two connected bodies of water can have differential amounts of salt and therefore osmotic pressure. Which means that if you have it in your blood, it can increase your blood pressure. Maybe it doesn't get into your blood as much as regular salt? I guess that must be it, since eating sugar doesn't increase blood pressure too much.
posted by DU at 5:03 AM on February 8, 2010


Don't spread the raw food "black pepper causes cancer" bullshit. One of the components of black pepper, safrole, does cause liver cancer in mice when large doses are injected. This black pepper causes cancer bullshit is so dense in bullshit that I can only find references to it from the raw foodies. In other words it's a form of bullshit so narrowly believed that barely anybody bothers to refute it. A slightly more reasoned view of black pepper from Dr Weil.
posted by substrate at 5:13 AM on February 8, 2010 [16 favorites]


To attain and maintain health, you need to drop condiments from your life—forever.

Screw you, raw food.
posted by DU at 5:16 AM on February 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


To attain and maintain health, you need to drop condiments from your life—forever.

Just Say No To Salsa: "Salsa? No, Thanks."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:20 AM on February 8, 2010


Dude, it's even worse than you know. Potassium chloride is what they use for lethal injections!
posted by brevator at 5:22 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


You hit the nail on the head on the Bananas. I once heard someone from the NRC say that under the regulations they ought to be overseeing the transport of bananas. Fortunately someone on high said "That would be really dumb" and they don't.

I think there is more to the sodium/high blood pressure thing than just osmotic pressure.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:27 AM on February 8, 2010


"Do not be alarmed!" is one of those phrases that always produces the opposite of its intention.
posted by The Whelk at 5:29 AM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


DU: Potassium and Sodium are basically the ying and yang of water retention. Here's a breakdown.
posted by analogue at 5:33 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always thought brazil nuts were slightly radioactive due to potassium, but it turns out its radium too. I think they're the classic example of a commonplace food that is mildly radioactive, rather than bananas though. See here.
posted by edd at 5:35 AM on February 8, 2010


"Which means that two connected bodies of water can have differential amounts of salt and therefore osmotic pressure. Which means that if you have it in your blood, it can increase your blood pressure."
I always assumed that the link between salt and hypertension came from some other biological effect, not anything like straightforward osmotic pressure. And that this was specifically something to do with sodium.
posted by edd at 5:40 AM on February 8, 2010


So they're salting salt now?
posted by blue_beetle at 5:44 AM on February 8, 2010


I always assumed that the link between salt and hypertension came from some other biological effect, not anything like straightforward osmotic pressure.
Aldosterone stimulates sodium retention and potassium excretion by the kidneys. Since sodium is the main ion that determines the amount of fluid in the blood vessels by osmosis, aldosterone will increase fluid retention, and indirectly, arterial pressure.
But if it's sodium on one side and potassium on the other, then that would explain this. Potassium chloride would not only fail to raise your blood pressure but actually lower it.
posted by DU at 5:46 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


To attain and maintain health, you need to drop condiments from your life—forever.


That is a shitty, shitty life they propose leading right there. This must be why raw-foods people always look like they're eating a mouthful of sand, even when they're not eating food that tastes like a mouthful of sand.
posted by mhoye at 6:31 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are sensitive radiation detectors at U.S. borders crossing. They are routinely set off by bananas and other high potassium foods (an avocado has more than twice as much K as a banana or an orange).

Few people are aware of how much natural radioactivity there is. There is a lot. Cosmic rays, solar flares, uranium/radon, potassium, etc are ubiquitous. We are partly made of potassium, some of which is radioactivite K-40. And carbon, some of which is radioactive C-14. If not for all this radioactivity, we wouldn't have been able to evolve to the point of being able to worry about it.
posted by neuron at 6:35 AM on February 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


I just wanted to note that all organic matter comprises carbon, including the radioactive isotope C-14, which is what makes "carbon dating" possible. But I see that neuron has beaten me to it.

In related news, dihydrogen monoxide found to be dangerous for human life when inhaled.
posted by Skeptic at 6:47 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't pretty much everything radioactive? Sort of in the same way that all matter is made up of scary, scary chemicals?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:49 AM on February 8, 2010


Screw you, raw food.

Yes. Some plants are so dangerous that even just sitting underneath one for five minutes will kill you!
posted by DreamerFi at 6:53 AM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Tobacco is radioactive and that is a major source of its cancer-causing effect. However your lungs are particularly delicate, and the radioactive material can wind up coating them. Eating the occasional banana isn't as serious a concern. However, if any of your friends are seriously addicted to bananas, you may want to get them some sort of patch, or something.
posted by Humanzee at 7:02 AM on February 8, 2010


raw-foods people always look like they're eating a mouthful of sand

If all you eat are mouthfuls of sand, you get used to it and after awhile they start to taste normal.

But, afterwards when you eat something that is commonly salted, it takes like sea water.
posted by digsrus at 7:05 AM on February 8, 2010


The dihidrogen monoxide joke stopped being funny a long, long time ago. And the real chemical nomenclature for water would just be hydrogen oxide, since there are no other oxides of hydrogen to differentiate.

And what digsrus said. I've been eating a low carb diet for two years now to control my pre-diabetes, and now if I drink a normal beer it tastes like an ice cream cone, and if I eat an actual donut it just seems weird.
posted by localroger at 7:24 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


> But if it's sodium on one side and potassium on the other

Actually, that's exactly how the sodium/potassium pump operates, and activity of the Na/K pump seems to be important in controlling heartbeat and blood pressure.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:09 AM on February 8, 2010


The dihidrogen monoxide joke stopped being funny a long, long time ago.

You couldn't be more wrong on the wrongest day of your life if you had an electrified wronging machine.
posted by DU at 8:23 AM on February 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


DU: It looks like you looked this up for yourself, which is good because I had no idea what you were going on about. Cell walls are loaded with active ion channels pumping things in and out, they're not just bags of water. And on top of that your body does a ton of work to control salinity levels in your body.
posted by delmoi at 8:29 AM on February 8, 2010


MetaFilter: The sound of condiments dropping from your life . . . FOREVER!
posted by exlotuseater at 8:45 AM on February 8, 2010


Neuron pretty much already said what I was going to, about banana trucks setting off radiation detectors at border crossings, but I've got another bit to add about border crossing detectors.

A while back, I heard a fascinating story from someone that works at the NRC, about a shipment of highly radioactive patio furniture, manufactured with contaminated scrap in Mexico. It set off the detectors, but was allowed into the US through some mixup. It then goes on to be sold in several different states. Apparently it was a nightmare tracing down all the new owners, but they got every piece back. Yay for the US gub-ment!

Mexico's regulators? Not so much. When contaminated metal on, say, designer belts and handbags, is detected at border crossings, it's turned around and sold in Mexico to the public. Granted, these aren't very high levels of radiation, and trans-continental flights will likely give you a higher dose, but it's still not something I'd like to wear near my baby making equipment on a daily basis.

This is just one story I like to recount when I meet some "hurf-durf-free-market" person.
posted by fontophilic at 8:56 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


regarding pepper, there was a report on NPR a few weeks back about black pepper increasing the bioavailability of food...
posted by TomMelee at 9:04 AM on February 8, 2010


...manufactured with contaminated scrap in Mexico...

Radioactivity in scrap metal is unfortunately a common occurrence. Industrial use sources are usually contained in thick metal shielding. People come across orphan sources and do not realize what they are, and take the shield material for its scrap value. In many countries, metal recycling facilities are required to have portal detectors for this exact reason.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:19 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the rawfoodies nay-nay on black pepper. Black pepper is a fruit. It's natural. It grows on trees. If you shoveled it into your mouth all by itself you would be eating fruit. So grinding it up and putting it on your mouthfuls of sand ought to be all right too.
posted by chavenet at 9:33 AM on February 8, 2010


No, you've turned it from a fruit into a condiment. That means it's evil. You can tell from the word itself, which is French (evil!) for condom (evil!) mint (not evil, but spicy!)
posted by explosion at 9:36 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you shoveled it into your mouth all by itself you would be eating fruit.

Can you actually do that, though? Is the pepper fruit digestible/palatable to humans in this form? I think that's what they mean.

Not that it makes any more sense. Ketchup and salsa are made from perfectly acceptable, "standalone" foods.
posted by DU at 10:00 AM on February 8, 2010


Heh. I sat down a while ago and figured out how much antimatter there is in a banana (since one K-40 decay mode emits positrons). The answer turns out to be usually none. Even though there are a couple dozen K-40 decays per banana per second, the mean time between positron emissions is about 75 minutes. (Of course the positrons don't live very long once they're emitted.

So my plan to give a talk where I brought in a big bag of antimatter for everybody was thwarted.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 10:00 AM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I sat down a while ago and figured out how much antimatter there is in a banana...

posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:00 PM on February 8

Eponysterical...
posted by Omission at 11:03 AM on February 8, 2010


Me: The dihidrogen monoxide joke stopped being funny a long, long time ago.

DU: You couldn't be more wrong on the wrongest day of your life if you had an electrified wronging machine.

DU, my father taught college physics and chemistry. If I had a nickel for every time I have heard that stupid fucking joke I could retire. And always from people who have just discovered it and think it is just the cleverest thing EVARRR!!!

I don't have an electrical wronging machine but I do have a Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, and it does not contain any entries for di- or otherwise multi-hydrogen anything even though there would be lots of candidates if such terminology was ever used. The joke would be funny the first few thousand times you hear it if it at least used correct terminology. But it's just a straw man, making fun of the fear of a way words AREN'T REALLY USED.
posted by localroger at 11:17 AM on February 8, 2010


Raw foodies should take inspiration from Tom Waits' Renfield.
posted by benzenedream at 12:31 PM on February 8, 2010


Ha! I have to take loads of Potassium each day per doctors orders (my blood pressure is apparently too low without it). Glad to know I'm becoming more like a superhero each day.
posted by mathowie at 12:58 PM on February 8, 2010


Mutant Mathowie-Man, able to build websites in a single bound!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:50 PM on February 8, 2010


Faint of Butt: Isn't pretty much everything radioactive?

Not really. Some elements and isotopes are stable. AIUI, potassium-40 and radon-222 are a normal person's main exposures to radiation. Carbon-14 has a shorter half-life than 40K, but it's much rarer.
posted by hattifattener at 10:29 PM on February 8, 2010


Not really. Some elements and isotopes are stable.

If you take any random item or material that has been in the ground some time in the past ( which goes for pretty much anything you will find on planet earth ), it's going to contain some traces of terrestrial radioactivity. Overall, uranium is about as common as lead in the earth's crust, so this is not as exaggerated as you might think.


Modern nuclear detection techniques are so sophisticated you can almost detect single atoms decaying, if you don't mind the effort and expenses. In this sense, almost everything you see around you is radioactive, but radioactive doesn't necessarily mean dangerous.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:39 AM on February 9, 2010


AIUI, potassium-40 and radon-222 are a normal person's main exposures to radiation.
Well, those are the biggest contribution to terrestrial radiation. But the natural radiation background is about equally split between terrestrial sources and cosmic rays. At the ground, cosmic rays are mostly fast muons: passing through you, right now, there's about one per square centimeter per ten seconds. There's a small component of fast electrons and positrons; also one way for muons to lose energy is by destroying an ordinarily stable nucleus, which usually releases some neutrons. Neutrons have the interesting property that they can transmute stable nuclei into unstable ones, most famously turning nitrogen-14 into carbon-14. This is why there's carbon-14 in the atmosphere, even though its lifetime is much shorter than the age or the earth.

The atmosphere absorbs most of the energy from cosmic rays. When you take a commercial airline flight, you ride above about 90% of the atmosphere's mass and you lose this shielding; a plane trip gives you a dose about like a chest x-ray.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:50 AM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most people run around with detectable levels of K-40 in their bodies from food. When we run people through the multichannel body scan machines, the only significantly detectable source in them (and these machines are ridiculously sensitive) is usually K-40.
posted by ctmf at 9:02 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older My other car is a minimalist   |   Slackers. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments