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Would you eat it?

Would you eat it?
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  • Would you eat it?

    Post #1 - May 10th, 2008, 8:14 am
    Post #1 - May 10th, 2008, 8:14 am Post #1 - May 10th, 2008, 8:14 am
    I live in the little pocket of "East" Pilsen that used to be heavy in industrial/manufacturing business--the building I live in was the old Burkhart bottling factory. We're also within a stones throw of the highway.

    We have a courtyard garden, and lots of edible things could (and do) grow in it, like chives and other herbs, tomatoes. And I won't eat 'em. I'm a little freaked out by the possibility of the soil being contaminated and the "fallout" from the highway, the nearby power plant and other environmental factors.

    I know the easy answer is "grow stuff in a box" (landlord doesn't really allow extraneous stuff in the courtyard, nice guy that he is), but I also wonder...am I being paranoid? Would you eat it?
  • Post #2 - May 10th, 2008, 11:56 am
    Post #2 - May 10th, 2008, 11:56 am Post #2 - May 10th, 2008, 11:56 am
    I sometimes have this reaction to fish in ponds near highways...although I eventually do eat them! One would assume that if soil/water could support life, it's at least a good start - have you considered having your soil tested? I think they do test for contaminants as well as soil nutrients. Somewhere in here, C2 has a link to soil testing places...
  • Post #3 - May 10th, 2008, 1:07 pm
    Post #3 - May 10th, 2008, 1:07 pm Post #3 - May 10th, 2008, 1:07 pm
    Mhays wrote:One would assume that if soil/water could support life, it's at least a good start


    I want to believe that. I really do. But I've seen plant and animal life thriving in some unsavory places, and I wouldn't eat those things, either.

    Getting the soil tested is a good solution, but laziness will probably prevail. I have a gorgeous patch of chives with scrumptious-looking flowers. The chives blow up every year with no tending, and I haven't had the nerve to nibble yet.
  • Post #4 - May 10th, 2008, 1:16 pm
    Post #4 - May 10th, 2008, 1:16 pm Post #4 - May 10th, 2008, 1:16 pm
    My best friend in HS had a vegetable plot till the mom tested the soil. I turns out that this area was a staging ground for the construction of the el tracks in Evanston back at the turn of the century and the ground was loaded with lead and other nasties. They had a company come and take out many cubic yards of earth (8' down IIRC) and put in new topsoil. It cost a pretty penny back in 1986.
    I used to think the brain was the most important part of the body. Then I realized who was telling me that.
  • Post #5 - May 10th, 2008, 1:54 pm
    Post #5 - May 10th, 2008, 1:54 pm Post #5 - May 10th, 2008, 1:54 pm
    I would absolutely not eat it or feed it to anyone unless I got the soil tested and received positive results.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #6 - May 10th, 2008, 2:28 pm
    Post #6 - May 10th, 2008, 2:28 pm Post #6 - May 10th, 2008, 2:28 pm
    Octarine wrote:My best friend in HS had a vegetable plot till the mom tested the soil. I turns out that this area was a staging ground for the construction of the el tracks in Evanston back at the turn of the century and the ground was loaded with lead and other nasties. They had a company come and take out many cubic yards of earth (8' down IIRC) and put in new topsoil. It cost a pretty penny back in 1986.


    Yes, I'm pretty sure that's where my plot is right now; I remember one of the 'oldtimers' telling me they had to fix the soil at around that time. I am with eatchicago, though - soil testing isn't that hard, though I keep forgetting to do it, myself (I'm gardening on a rented plot whose original soil was tested, so I'm not worried about contaminants) - basically, you just mail off some of your dirt to one of the companies - this one I found on the Extension office soil testing page offers an easy .pdf to walk you through the process.(I can't recommend one over another, just this one happened to have a more navigable web page and offers testing for contaminants)
  • Post #7 - May 10th, 2008, 5:37 pm
    Post #7 - May 10th, 2008, 5:37 pm Post #7 - May 10th, 2008, 5:37 pm
    Eep. I wonder if we need to test our garden soil? We're in Bucktown and the house is 100 years old, but you know our streets are those "raised up by Chicago fire debris" ones...
    Leek

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  • Post #8 - May 13th, 2008, 9:38 am
    Post #8 - May 13th, 2008, 9:38 am Post #8 - May 13th, 2008, 9:38 am
    In regards to the comment about the soil being able to sustain life, I wouldnt use that as a gauge for how edible the items may be. I just saw a documentary recently on the areas surrounding Chernoble, and the wildlife, and vegetation is thriving to the surpirse of scientists. But the area is still highly contaminated, and will be for generations.

    I would not eat hte herbs from the plot of land your mention.

    With the above said I will not plant vegetables on my property(we have about an acre) for the next couple of years due to the water supply in the town I live in having higher than acceptable levels of radium in the water at certain times of the year. A new water filtration plant is in the works, but until then I will wait to plant that garden(which I would have to water). We also used bottled water for all drinking and cooking.
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  • Post #9 - May 13th, 2008, 7:48 pm
    Post #9 - May 13th, 2008, 7:48 pm Post #9 - May 13th, 2008, 7:48 pm
    jimswside wrote:With the above said I will not plant vegetables on my property(we have about an acre) for the next couple of years due to the water supply in the town I live in having higher than acceptable levels of radium in the water at certain times of the year.

    Don't sweat the radon. It's (a) harmless if swallowed, only harmful if breathed; (b) if you're pouring water on the plants, most of the radon will go into the air, not the plants, (c) it isn't absorbed by the plants either -- it doesn't react with anything.

    Your biggest danger from radon is something like a washing machine, that agitates water in an enclosed space, causing the radon to go into the air in the room.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #10 - May 14th, 2008, 7:28 am
    Post #10 - May 14th, 2008, 7:28 am Post #10 - May 14th, 2008, 7:28 am
    JoelF wrote:
    jimswside wrote:With the above said I will not plant vegetables on my property(we have about an acre) for the next couple of years due to the water supply in the town I live in having higher than acceptable levels of radium in the water at certain times of the year.

    Don't sweat the radon. It's (a) harmless if swallowed, only harmful if breathed; (b) if you're pouring water on the plants, most of the radon will go into the air, not the plants, (c) it isn't absorbed by the plants either -- it doesn't react with anything.

    Your biggest danger from radon is something like a washing machine, that agitates water in an enclosed space, causing the radon to go into the air in the room.


    thanks for the tip, but it is radium in our drinking water, not radon. A couple months out of the year I get a notice from the city, or the EPA, I cant remember which that tells me that the waters radium levels have exceeeded the govt. standards. Supposedly when the new water filtration plant is complete that issue will be resolved, until I hear other wise we use bottled water for drinking and cooking, and would be nervous watering plants to be consumed with "tainted" water.

    As a side note I had a system installed in my basement when we built the house, that vents radon gas since LaSalle County, IL. is considered the capital of radon gas in Illinois.
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  • Post #11 - May 14th, 2008, 9:16 am
    Post #11 - May 14th, 2008, 9:16 am Post #11 - May 14th, 2008, 9:16 am
    My mistake -- radium is a horse of a different color. I admit to not reading carefully.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #12 - May 14th, 2008, 9:38 am
    Post #12 - May 14th, 2008, 9:38 am Post #12 - May 14th, 2008, 9:38 am
    JoelF wrote:My mistake -- radium is a horse of a different color. I admit to not reading carefully.


    its all good,

    luckily the water is ok most of the year, but I dont take any chances.
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  • Post #13 - May 14th, 2008, 11:00 am
    Post #13 - May 14th, 2008, 11:00 am Post #13 - May 14th, 2008, 11:00 am
    When we moved into our house in Oak Park there was a lovely big raised garden by the alley at the back of the lot. I grew vegetables there for several years before it occurred to me that the raised beds were on top of what had once been gravel parking spaces. The thought of all those years of cars parked there helped convince me to buy my fresh produce at the farmers' market instead.
  • Post #14 - May 14th, 2008, 3:55 pm
    Post #14 - May 14th, 2008, 3:55 pm Post #14 - May 14th, 2008, 3:55 pm
    Quite a few years back, living on Elston Ave. in Chicago (across from Stanley's, where you could get all the rotting produce you wanted ;)), I dug up a quarter of the backyard of my apartment in order to put in a vegetable garden, at the request of my wife. I sifted dirt out of many pounds of stone and brick through a screen I built out of chicken wire and discarded pieces of wood. My back hurt for a bit, but we put in some plants--mostly veggies. Surprise, surprise! Things actually grew and the backyard looked better! We didn't get much yield, though, so we would generally go across the street to get things for dinner. I later found out that I had put the garden above the remains of a destroyed garage--hence the bricks and, no doubt, the contaminants in our crop. But, low and behold!: soon after, the other residents of this once totally industrial neighborhood began their own gardens. The point being--sometimes you can do a lot of good for others, by just trying to be good to yourself--plant a tree, start a garden. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. How long is it going to be before the toxins set in?
  • Post #15 - May 15th, 2008, 8:23 pm
    Post #15 - May 15th, 2008, 8:23 pm Post #15 - May 15th, 2008, 8:23 pm
    Ann Fisher wrote:When we moved into our house in Oak Park there was a lovely big raised garden by the alley at the back of the lot. I grew vegetables there for several years before it occurred to me that the raised beds were on top of what had once been gravel parking spaces. The thought of all those years of cars parked there helped convince me to buy my fresh produce at the farmers' market instead.

    Assuming that the raised beds were made with fresh soil and you washed the produce before using it, your raised garden should have been fine.

    This pdf from the World Health Organization discusses safe gardening on contaminated land.

    Also, certain plants, like mustard, are known to remove contaminants from soils, a process called phytoremediation. (Of course, you shouldn't eat plants being grown for that purpose.)
  • Post #16 - May 15th, 2008, 9:35 pm
    Post #16 - May 15th, 2008, 9:35 pm Post #16 - May 15th, 2008, 9:35 pm
    jimswside wrote:In regards to the comment about the soil being able to sustain life, I wouldnt use that as a gauge for how edible the items may be. I just saw a documentary recently on the areas surrounding Chernoble, and the wildlife, and vegetation is thriving to the surpirse of scientists. But the area is still highly contaminated, and will be for generations.


    I have the dubious distinction of having visited Chernobyl about 15 months after their disaster. The trees had leaves, gardens were overrun with unmaintain vegetation and birds flew around. Everything was visually normal, you just couldn't handle anything. The buildings I was in had heavy acrylic-type plastic molded to the floors and up the ceiling beyond my range to touch. This was a ghost town with just the caretakers roaming about.

    In Moscow, the farmer's markets all had Geiger counters to scan food that originated in the Ukraine. They were especially leary of wild mushrooms.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

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  • Post #17 - May 16th, 2008, 7:47 am
    Post #17 - May 16th, 2008, 7:47 am Post #17 - May 16th, 2008, 7:47 am
    Cathy2 wrote:
    jimswside wrote:In regards to the comment about the soil being able to sustain life, I wouldnt use that as a gauge for how edible the items may be. I just saw a documentary recently on the areas surrounding Chernoble, and the wildlife, and vegetation is thriving to the surpirse of scientists. But the area is still highly contaminated, and will be for generations.


    I have the dubious distinction of having visited Chernobyl about 15 months after their disaster. The trees had leaves, gardens were overrun with unmaintain vegetation and birds flew around. Everything was visually normal, you just couldn't handle anything. The buildings I was in had heavy acrylic-type plastic molded to the floors and up the ceiling beyond my range to touch. This was a ghost town with just the caretakers roaming about.


    In Moscow, the farmer's markets all had Geiger counters to scan food that originated in the Ukraine. They were especially leary of wild mushrooms.

    Regards,



    very interesting insight into this topic. The doucumentary I saw focused on an abandoned house cat, and her litter, as well as some wild animals, and how they have adapted in that highly radioactive environment. Where as you mentioned , on the surface things looks healthy, but the radiation is in everything.
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