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Got a lot of reaction to Michael Sansolo's column about irradiation yesterday.

MNB reader Annie Hoy wrote:

Michael's Sansolo Speaks was so far from reality that I am compelled to respond!

First of all, microwave ovens are not the same thing as irradiation.

Irradiation uses actual radioactive material to irradiate the food, like Cobalt 60. This is actual nuclear waste, recycled for use in the food industry.

It allows, for example, a meat processor to be lax in their prevention of e coli contamination, then package the meat, put it on palates, move the product into a lead chamber, expose it to radiation so that all the e coli and other bacteria are killed (and in some early cases change the texture of the beef), and then lift up the back door and move the palettes onto a truck for transport. This is nothing like microwaving food in your kitchen.

Thank goodness irradiation is not accepted. It's just a clever way to use nuclear waste.

From another reader:

The industry has no one to blame but themselves when supporters confuse the irradiation to kill pathogens (using ionizing radiation - the "dangerous" kind) and microwave ovens (which use non-ionizing radiation). An industry that claims to want to make a scientific case better make sure that it's got its science right.

MNB reader Rosemary Fifield wrote:

In my position as a consumer advocate and educator, I’ve been addressing irradiation of food for twenty years, and I take exception to Michael Sansolo’s approach to the topic. Just because the Washington Post states something as being so, doesn’t mean it’s the whole story. Nowhere did I see mention of what irradiation does to the quality or nutritional value of the irradiated food. No one I know worries about mutant life forms. They worry about meat that doesn’t taste right or produce that’s been damaged by the process. Most spices are irradiated, and I, for one, couldn’t care less. But don’t irradiate my ground beef or my chicken or my spinach “to protect my family.” Instead, improve slaughtering and handling procedures, lay off the antibiotics in animals, and tighten up on inspections.

Oh, and by the way, I do remember talking to a group about irradiation of meat and having a person say, “Does that mean I’d be able to keep a roast in the pantry instead of the refrigerator?” It’s going to take more than irradiation to protect that family.

I suspect Michael will weigh in on this debate in next week's column…

Yesterday, we had a story about how adults under 35 are moving less than they used to, and "economists and demographers say a combination of relatively low-paying opportunities, the burden of student loans and an aversion to taking risks explains the reluctance to relocate. Student-loan debt rose $114 billion in the year ended in December to $1.08 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York."

I commented:

Funny … my first thought when reading these sentences is that it is extraordinary that we have a system in which student load debt, accumulated by people trying to go to college, is crushing … and the beneficiary is the banking system. The government subsidizes the banks, but not the students … which strikes me as a lousy sense of priorities. Especially, because if the analysis is correct, it hurts the country in a lot of different ways.

Which led one MNB user to write:

It’s incredible to me that the enormity of student loan debt, and the burden it places on those that have it, the negative it places on the economy, and this group of debtors not being able to move forward, why this is not front and center, or why someone has not been able to spark this group to organize and be heard, is beyond me. All someone has to do is create the spark, be out front, use social media to organize, and this is just waiting to be a political hot potato. It baffles me why someone’s not leveraging this pain and getting the government to switch priorities . . .

Y'know, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this country has its priorities pretty much all wrong … and that most politicians - on both sides of the aisle - are misguided. And, to be honest, the more I think about it, the more pissed off I get. (Sorry for the use of the vernacular, but I tried a bunch of other words and they didn't seem to capture my increasingly foul mood about the state of politics and government in America.

I'm starting to think that I'm going to adopt two Howards as my role models - Howard Beale and Howard Prince.

Yes, these are movie references … and you can see the relevant clips here and here. (Warning: some of the language in these clips is rougher than mine. But appropriate.)
KC's View: