For Eating with a Sense of Security: Learning How to Cook to Protect Family Members from Radiation Koriyama Medical Coop, Fukushima

It will soon be two years since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Everyone is bound to be anxious about what kind of effect radiation would have on human health.
Koriyama Medical Coop of Fukushima has named the damage and suffering from radiation as “Nuclear Damage” and set up the “Kuwano Nuclear Damage Office” to continue educational activities. At regular group meetings, Coop members learn a lot of things about radiation.

To reduce intake of radioactive substances from foodstuff

Is water and food we take every day really safe? No one is sure. In order to reduce the risk of internal radiation exposure from foodstuff (exposure to radiation by taking radioactive substance into human body) as much as possible, the Coop is giving information to its members attending group meetings about cooking tips to reduce radiation and recipes to improve immunity.
Ms. Rokurota Saori (Organizing Section staff of the Coop) served as a lecturer in the study meeting of Kuwano Branch held on December 14 2012. Ms. Rokurota created an information packet, using a book, “How to protect your family from radiation contamination: Safety manual on how to eat (written by Noguchi Kunikazu).”
Nine members took part in the meeting on that day. Ms. Rokurota explained important points in cooking: Choosing as fresh foodstuff as possible; Watching out for leafy vegetables spreading their roots on the surface of the ground, as they absorb cesium easily; Fresh products must be rinsed thoroughly in water and peeled; Boiling or soaking in salted or vinegar water is effective. Some participants said, “I should be able to do it right from today.” Ms. Rokurota also talked about necessary nutrients to prevent the body from absorbing radioactive substances and certain foodstuff that would help prompt egestion of radiation out of the body.
As enormous amount of information abounds, it is difficult to choose which to trust. “We want correct and right information” was the common desire among the members who attended the workshop.

Measuring radiation level of foodstuff

Currently, the government guideline allows general foodstuff to contain radioactive cesium “up to 100 Bq per 1kg.” In April last year, Koriyama Medical Coop purchased a radiation detector ATM1320 (produced by ATOMTEC) with the fund donated from around the country, so that the Coop members and people in the community can measure the radiation level of foods and eat without fear. With this machine, they can check radiation on farm products from individual home gardens or soil within people’s house premises or farmlands. During the group meeting, Ms. Rokurota explained how to use the machine and checked some sample rice.
Almost every day, Coop members or local people come to the office to check their produce. The figures detected are reported to the Nuclear Damage Committee held monthly by the Coop, and also announced in its newsletters. “After checking radiation with this machine, people can make their own judgement whether they would eat it or not. We are hoping that knowing objective figures would help them obtain some peace of mind,” Ms. Rokurota said.

FTF is now equipped

So far 23 such group meetings have been held by 20 groups of 10 branches. The Coop also purchased a Fast Truck Fibre (FTF). By going through this gate-shape machine, one can check the radiation exposure level (gamma ray) on the surface and inside human body, which has been in use by the members and community people since December 2012.
The effort to defend people’s health from the “nuclear damage” continues — in order to live in Fukushima.
(Article by Miyatake Maki; Photo by Yamamoto Koji)