Acrymalide in my Potatoes?

This morning I read an article about a chemical in my potatoes that can cause Cancer. Acrymalide, it is called, and it comes from frying foods.  I’ve insterted a quote from the article, on CBC, located here:

To the vast majority of Canadians, acrylamide meant nothing, until Swedish researchers found in 2002 that certain foods contained the compound, which has been shown to cause cancer in animals.

Acrylamide was first synthesized in 1949 and used as a chemical intermediate in the manufacture of some plastics — including some food packaging.

Small amounts of acrylamide are also used in the synthesis of dyes, ore processing, adhesives, paper and textile coatings, permanent press fabrics, sugar beet juice clarification, binders for seed coatings and foundry sand, and printing ink emulsion stabilizers.

Acrylamide has also been used in the construction of dam foundations and tunnels. It is an odourless solid that takes the form of either flake-like crystals or a 30-50 per cent aqueous solution.

But take a potato, cut it into bite-sized pieces and drop them into a vat of hot oil and you wind up with a plate full of acrylamide-laced vegetable.

I put my head to my desk and whapped it softly, yet repeatedly on the melamine surface. Can’t whap it too hard, that can cause brain concussion, right… and melamine is bad for you somehow…

Every day, I read about new chemicals, compounds, emulsions, and foods that are bad for us, as humans. Every day I am told to stay away from something-or-other, because it causes Cancer in lab mice, or over the period of fifty years, can make me and my family sick, sick,sick.

It seems I cannot drink or eat out of plastic cups, bottles, and Tupperware anymore because the BPA will give me Cancer. I must be careful of trans fats since that stuff will make me fat and give me a heart condition. I have to stay away from the sodium they have replaced the trans fat with, since that can be really bad for my system too. All our baby toys are metal and paint free, or guaranteed safe. I must be careful of too much dairy because the hormones they give cows causes early puberty in children, and menstrual wackiness in women.  Don’t eat red meat very much because I will raise my bad cholesterol levels. Don’t barbeque, as the carbon levels can be bad for me. Aluminum pots will give me Althzeimers, but Teflon, and potentially Stainless Steel can cause Cancer. Wash all my vegetables because they have pesticides and such all over them, but be careful of the pre-washed stuff since if it was washed with bad water it can poision me with Salmonella. And stay away from processed meat of any kind, it could have Listeria. This goes double for soft cheese! Tartrazine food dye can give me asthma, rashes, and migraines, diacetyl can give me “popcorn lung” if I eat healthy popcorn with this preservative for a long time. Mercury in fish, MSG headaches, botulism… and now cyclobutanones can cause cellular damage. Cyclobutanones are a byproduct of irradiating food to make it… wait for it… 


*thud* I throw up my hands in defeat. Please, no more information! I can’t keep up!

For a moment, I feel as if I should be wrapping my home in a big bubble, use only naturally occuring substances, and eat only organically produced food that hasn’t touched a processing plant or comingled with any chemical whatsoever from the farmer to my mouth. I must grow all my own vegetables… but wait, where do the seeds come from? They might have a chemical sprayed on them… ok, so I must grow all my own vegetables from organic seeds to boot. My meat must only come from ethical farmers who don’t give their animals anti-biotics, or feed them rendered grain, or slaughter them in huge processing plants where the sterility is suspect. Eggs must come from free-range chickens and be hormone free. I must only eat and drink with glass, and I have to cook everything with steam until it is well done, and only cook with glass or… wait a minute, is glass safe either? What about my drinking water? And what about that grain in my bread, was it genetically modified?

Hang on here a minute…

I came from the era of leaded paint and gasoline, lawn darts, plastic Thermoses and Saran wrapped sandwiches. I ate hot dogs, and salami with the wee pieces of cheese macaroni in it, and checken nuggets that came pressed into funny shapes. I would grab a strawberry off the bush at a pick-you-own place and stuff it in before my mom saw. I’ve cooked meals over an open fire with aluminum pots as a girl Guide, and ate shrinkwrapped over-processed food from convenience stores when I was hungry and on the road. My God, I even eat fries from fast food joints! I am sure I have been eating and drinking chemicals for years that people now shun like the Black Death. And I am still here, for now. 

To be truthful, I havea hard time being overly worried about the years of drinking out of a plastic cup, or cutting into a juicy red steak. I remind muself that I will send myself to an early grave worrying about the food I eat sending me to an early grave!


 I also want to make sure I am healthy, so I read about the latest food scares and product recalls, and examine all my foods when a new one strikes.  I threw out all our old aluminum pans, and replace our teflon pans when they get scratchy. I only buy BPA free bottles for our son. We tossed our old Nalgene bottles, since we made hot piping coffee in them when camping. I shun MSG, I wash all our vegetables and fruit religiously, and we stay away from sodium as best we can. We also stay away from metal parts and suspect paint on toys in case of lead. I do not go to dollar stores for my every day use items, unless I know it will not be consumed, or touch something that will be consumed.

I wanted to throw out the huge amount of Rubbermaid storage containers that we own, which could be full of BPA, but my husband blocked my path saying “enough!” since to replace them would be a small fortune, I expect. I made him buy a bowl and plate for work, to heat his lunch up with.

Its a silly conundrum I find myself falling into, and fueled by my own curiosity for information, I suppose. I sometimes feel like a sheep, blindly running scared from the latest report on some health scare, and sometimes feel like the savvy proactive mommy doing her part to keep her family healthy.

Yes, progress means that we understand our world better, and can be safer, but at what point are we creating paranoia induced generations that will agonize over every single action in their lives ending it too soon because of some report-or-other saying how horrible it is for us?

I wonder what the happy medium is for information versus paranoia… Is there one?


One thought on “Acrymalide in my Potatoes?

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