Fukushima Fallout: How to Protect Ourselves from Radiation (At least somewhat)

Abandoned Ferris Wheel Chernobyl

When I was in my twenties, I followed a macrobiotic diet. I was incredibly dedicated. So much of how I live now was informed by that time period. NYC had its own Macrobiotic Center at the time, based out of the gorgeous Cable Building at 611 Broadway, off Houston Street in the Village.*

My first appointment with a macrobiotic counselor took place there. I had moved back home with my parents in New Jersey at the time. I remember driving in on the weekend the day of my appointment and parking in the lot across the street in SoHo(that parking lot is no longer there; neither is the Macrobiotic Center tho’ the Cable Building — pictures at the end — remains). I didn’t expect to be put on the strict program the counselor laid out for me but, convinced of the program’s merits and determined, I began following it instantly.

No hamburgers? No problem. Cut out sugar? Next day. Give up dairy and flour products? Done.

Macrobiotics means “great” or “big life” in Greek. (I go into this more in the B-girl Guide.) It has influenced to this day how I live my day-to-day life. It was eye opening – it’s where – and how – I first learned to avoid toxic chemicals in the home; eat locally sourced food and organic products when possible; avoid sugar and dairy; the problems with pesticides in our food and environment; why it’s best to wear natural fibers, and how I came to explore acupuncture, meditation & so much more.

One thing that always stood out to me at the time was hearing repeatedly how after Hiroshima people who followed certain macrobiotic protocols were able to avoid the radiation’s harmful effects.

Of course, we have to know what we’re dealing with to respond properly and that is one of the problems post-Fukushima disaster, as it continues to unfold.

INFORMATION POST-FUKUSHIMA TO JOURNALISTS HAS BEEN RESTRICTED

Vivian Norris wrote a very comprehensive piece May 9th at the Huffington Post: Deadly Silence on Fukushima. She wrote, “People need answers, data and honest information to help them deal with what is going on. Media blackouts, propaganda and greedy self-interested industries, of any kind, who allow human beings’ health to be affected, and deaths to occur, must be stopped now.”

Alarmingly, she reported how, during the first few months after the disaster (which remains on-going), access to information on the situation for freelancers, internet and “foreign media” has been restricted by both the government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company):

… access has been limited in two ways. First, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio holds twice daily press conferences for representatives of the big Japanese media, registered representatives of freelance and internet media are limited to a single press conference per week. Second, in contrast to Japanese media who are briefed regularly by Edano and periodically by Prime Miniser Kan, foreign media are briefed exclusively by administrative staff.

Uesugi also notes that at TEPCO press conferences, which are now being held at company headquarters, foreign correspondents and Japanese freelancers regularly ask probing questions while mainstream journalists simply record and report company statements reiterating that the situation is basically under control and there is nothing to worry about. One reason for this, Uesugi suggests, is that TEPCO, a giant media sponsor, has an annual 20 billion yen advertising budget. “The media keeps defending the information from TEPCO!” “The Japanese media today is no different from the wartime propaganda media that kept repeating to the very end that ‘Japan is winning the war against America,'” Uesugi exclaimed.

Uesugi is a Japanese journalist who has been a bit of a muckraker, revealing much that the Japanese government and TEPCO have attempted to keep quiet. Now some months have gone by and The L.A. Times reported the other day that distrust runs deep by the Japanese people as to whether their government is informing them adequately.

Clearly for our own self-preservation and that of our planet, we need to be on top of this. Here in the U.S., it’s possible food on the West Coast is being affected as well as products we may consume with origins in Japan and elsewhere which need to be monitored (radiation monitoring in Japan is voluntary and conducted by consumer groups and the companies themselves).

MACROBIOTIC FOOD PROTOCOLS

In the Huffington Post piece, Norris references the use of macrobiotics in preventing radiation’s harmful effects from the director of the Department of Internal Medicine in Nagasaki in August 1945 –

Macrobiotic Diet Prevents Radiation Sickness Among A-Bomb Survivors in Japan 

Most patients in the hospital, located one mile from the center of the blast, survived the initial effects of the bomb, but soon after came down with symptoms of radiation sickness from the fallout that had been released. Dr. Akizuki fed his staff and patients a strict macrobiotic diet of brown rice, miso soup, wakame and other sea vegetables, Hokkaido pumpkin, and sea salt and prohibited the consumption of sugar and sweets. As a result, he saved everyone in his hospital, while many other survivors in the city perished from radiation sickness.

“I gave the cooks and staff strict orders that they should make unpolished whole-grain rice balls, adding some salt to them, prepare strong miso soup for each meal, and never use sugar. When they didn’t follow my orders, I scolded them without mercy, ‘Never take sugar. Sugar will destroy your blood!'”…

This dietary method made it possible for me to remain alive and go on working vigorously as a doctor. The radioactivity may not have been a fatal dose, but thanks to this method, Brother Iwanaga, Reverend Noguchi, Chief Nurse Miss Murai, other staff members and in-patients, as well as myself, all kept on living on the lethal ashes of the bombed ruins. It was thanks to this food that all of us could work for people day after day, overcoming fatigue or symptoms of atomic disease and survive the disaster” free from severe symptoms of radioactivity.”

Continue reading

Fukushima: With Serious Restrictions, Some Animals to be Rescued at Last; Monkeys to Monitor Radiation (Part II)

Update: There is, of course, more to this story. Someone from an animal rescue org. tweeted me via Twitter and I have interviewed her and will post shortly. It’s not as ‘feel good’ as it sounds as there are many restrictions put in place by the government. Follow up story to come.

Japan Cat Network

Via The Telegraph Fukushima Pets to be Rescued from No-go Zone (December 6, 2011):

The government has granted permission to animal welfare groups enabling them to enter the no-go zone in order to rescue abandoned cats, dogs and other pets who are still alive.

Countless residents were forced to leave pets behind as they fled their homes during emergency evacuations following the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

As a result, many animals are believed to have starved to death, although animal welfare groups believe that several hundred cats and dogs remain alive and are running wild across the nuclear exclusion zone.

The Environment Ministry has now given permission to the groups to rescue surviving pets, although they will only be able to pick up animals whose owners have requested it and must prove they will be housed in secure shelters.

Also in The Telegraph, from yesterday, is an article, “Wild Monkeys to measure radiation levels in Fukushima.” At first, I thought they were placing the monkeys there but it seems that “as many as 14 groups of monkeys are believed to reside in the mountains forests to the west of Minamisoma city.” Apparently, to “measure” the radiation, it will “involve monkeys being fitted with collars containing radiation meters and GPS transmitters.” (Involve, eh? Funny choice of words.) These collars will then detach “remotely.” No specific details in the piece as to how the monkeys will be rounded up initially. Not sure what to make of that exactly – it’s a good thing that the radiation is being measured in some way but a bit skeptical / concerned when animals are used in these ways. Particularly in light of the government’s severe lack of interest of the other animals left behind there.

Animal groups have been lobbying the government for months to allow them to rescue people’s animal companions who were left behind. Imagine if your animal, part of your family, was left behind and you could not go back to get him or her – to even be certain if he was alive – until 9 months later? This attitude by our governments (similar to what transpired around Hurricane Katrina) has got to change.

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Some background reading —

Amazing blog post of a volunteer who helped animal rescue groups look after animals in Fukushima back in April here at One Day in Fukishima via Against the Stream – a Contrarian’s Blog.

Via International Best Friends Org.: Japan: Setting out to Save Animals. (This was posted back in March right after the area was evacuated.)

I didn’t really intend this to be Part II but the news is timely!

See Part I at B-girl Guide: Japan, Fukushima, The Rest of Us – Afterwards, Now