Sheila Parks is a long-time feminist and peace and justice activist who has worked in various public-sector positions to combat sex discrimination in education and the workplace. She is founder of the Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots and takes the position that electric voting can lead to fraud and error. Aside from her vocational background, Parks is a self-proclaimed vegetarian and intermittent vegan and says she believes that “we are what we eat.” Since the Fukushima meltdowns, she stopped eating imports from Japan, in particular miso soup, which, she cites from a scholarly journal, prevents injury from radiation exposure among other health benefits.
Parks was curious about the origin of miso soup and its safety for consumption, so she decided to do a little investigative journalism. In her article, she asks, “How do we know whether or not to trust those who do the measurements and tell us it is all right to eat foods from Japan?” Japan’s limit for fish contaminated with cesium-137 is 100 Bq/kg (or 50 Bq/kg in some areas), while the United States’ limit for food is 1,200 Bq/kg, and Canada’s limit is 1,000 Bq/kg. In other words, foods that Japan deems too radioactive can be exported to the United States and Canada because cesium-137 limits are 12 and 10 times higher!
Miso is a thick paste, most often made with soybeans, and salt and is always fermented with a mold culture called Aspergillus oryzae, or koji. Koji only comes from Japan. It can be found in air, water and soil. Parks writes, “Currently there are five major distributors in Japan supplying A. oryzae conidiospores to 4,500 sake (Japanese alcoholic beverage, ca. 1,900 brewers), miso (soybean paste, ca. 1,200 brewers) and shoyu (soy sauce, ca. 1500 brewers) brewers in Japan, excluding several of the biggest soy-sauce companies.”
Taking her koji research a step further, Parks e-mailed three companies — one in Japan, one in the US and one in the UK — about their miso. She writes, “I asked where their koji came from, and if it was tested for radiation and if so, where and by whom. Each company stated that they use koji from Japan to make their miso. Their answers varied about where in Japan the koji came from and if tested and how, but suffice to say that the answers from all three companies did nothing to allay my fears about eating miso.”
Parks includes the e-mail exchanges at the end of her article.
Read her article HERE to find out more about the history of koji; the opinions of several doctors and an anti-nuclear activist on the dangers of eating contaminated food from Japan; and links to petitions you can sign to (1) ask Tokyo to resign as the host of the 2020 Olympics and (2) ask the FDA to significantly lower levels of cesium-134 and -137 allowed in US food, supplements and pharmaceuticals.