My Contaminated Kitchen Cabinet: A Surprising Result (Exclusive Book Excerpt)

Friday Jul 10 | BY |
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Below is a SECOND excerpt of my upcoming book: Kale and CoffeeA Renegade’s Guide to Health, Happiness and Longevity – Stay tuned for the book release!

I’m at my desk reading a certificate of analysis for 13 foods we eat at home. I had sent these foods off to a lab a few weeks before to have them analyzed for heavy-metal toxicity. As I flip through the pages of the report, I’m relieved to see that most of the levels seem to be relatively normal—until I get to the sixth item.

What I see surprises me. Lead: 1,570 ppb (parts per billion).

I look at that number again to make sure I read the measurements correctly. This level is higher than the lead in any of the other samples. That can’t be right, I think. I check the top of the page to confirm which food it applies to: green tea, one of the best-known superfoods on the planet, one that medical experts and health gurus alike agree is healthy, hype-free, and good for daily use. In fact, I’ve drunk green tea every day for the last two years. The particular brand we had tested is one that I’ve used for at least seven months. Could it really have this much lead in it? Or, to back up a bit, is this much lead even a big deal?

It’s been a geeky dream of mine to test all the foods my family and I eat for the presence of toxic chemicals and metals. You can’t see them or, for the most part, taste them, so it would be a shame to think that we’re eating healthy at home and then find out that all the healthy food was actually contaminated.

But now I’m faced with the reality that something I never imag- ined would be contaminated might, in fact, be exactly that. I ex- pected the rice I sent to have arsenic in it—that has been all over the news. And I thought the seaweeds might have high levels of mercury. But green tea? What else in my cabinet contains levels of heavy metals unsafe for my family and me?

The Potential Dirty (Almost) Dozen

I’m walking through the grocery store, looking at my list of foods that Annmarie, Hudson, our cats, and I eat regularly. I’ve decided, for the sake of cost, to send only ten items, nine of which I’ll find here. The remaining item will be sushi from the takeout place a block away. I’ve decided to test only for heavy metals instead of for other toxins like pesticides and endocrine disruptors. Doctors, health experts, and the media almost unanimously cite heavy metals as harmful.

The test we’ve chosen identifies levels of four of the most toxic metals found in food: mercury, cadmium, lead, and aluminum. It’s more than a bit unnerving just how dangerous these metals can be and how easily they get into the body.


My hope is that nothing I send to the lab contains high levels of any of these metals, but as I walk through the aisles grabbing items and crossing them off my list, I wonder what I’ll do if something does, particularly if it’s something that Hudson eats. I’m pretty sure I’ll be angry at a whole bunch of people, including farmers, industrial leaders, politicians, marketers, and whoever else has contributed to allowing toxins in our food.

I unload my basket at the checkout counter and check off the items:

  • An organic baby smoothie pack. This brand, in this flavor, is one of Hudson’s favorites. He drinks one or two a day.
  • A packaged seaweed snack from Korea. Both Hudson and Annmarie eat this. They go through one to four packs a week.
  • Cashews. Another of Hudson’s favorites. He eats them once or twice a week.
  • Organic oats. Hudson eats these for breakfast three to five times a week.
  • Dulse. Another seaweed, this one from the East Coast of the United States. Hudson snacks on this once a week.
  • Goji berries, a popular superfood from China. Hudson eats these two to four times a week.
  • A bag of dried cat food. Might as well see if our cat, Jonny 5, and B, my brother’s cat who lives with us, are safe. Animal food is a huge, underreported problem, causing illness that could be avoided. The cats eat this brand every day.
  • A name-brand baby rice cereal. I’ve seen many news reports about arsenic in rice and wanted to see if this mainstream company managed to come in clean.

We don’t feed this or any rice cereal to Hudson, but I included it to broaden my inquiry beyond foods that health-food lovers consume.

  • A name-brand baby formula. We didn’t feed this to Hudson either. But it’s made by a non-organic company I secretly want to catch peddling heavy metal–laced, processed food.


Are You Sure You Did This Right?

After getting back the results of the heavy-metal test a few weeks later, I ask Lisa to schedule a call to the lab project manager, Lydia, who ran the tests on my organic green tea, the last-minute addition that turned up the most interesting results.


(Stay tuned for the book release this month!)

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Cathy says:

    Please advise what places to test the foods or cooking pots for heavy metals. Thanks

  2. I only drink one brand of green tea and black tea, hopefully you will share the company name of your tea?

  3. Doro says:

    Your investigation is brilliant! I’m testing very high in lead and several other toxic metals. I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out the sources, but am clueless. I bet it’s somethings hidden as you allude to in this article. Was the green tea the only item that came back as contaminated?

  4. Fred and Kevin, thank you very much for raising this topic to awareness. I try to educate people as much they can take. Four years ago I tested myself for heavy metals. Results were sky rocketing: lead 13 plus times more, the acceptable level, aluminum 5 more times, Cadmium 3 times more, Uranium 2.5 times more, then acceptable levels. After several years of going from doctor to doctor, finally, Integrative Medicine Doctor gave me that explanation to my chronic conditions. All those toxins just suppress immune system and create perfect condition for inflammation and further infection. Chelation helped me a lot, but it never ending detoxification process in modern times. All food, what we buy, is produced, grown and delivered to us in very toxic ways… What is an answer? Gardening yourself, if you can, learning to sprouting, praying…
    An air, what we breath, is contaminated even more…

  5. Carol says:

    I really give you credit for doing your best to live a clean life. Unfortunately, my life experience (at the age of 53) is that no matter what you do, how clean you live, etc. the body starts to break down at around 80 years-old. Few escape this reality. It is an unfortunately reality. I am not saying live off of bonbons. But, be happy and know that G-d has His plan which we are not privy to. I have seen people do everything right and it comes out all wrong and I have seen people smoking and eating pork daily and they live long, good lives. We have to do the best we can do but ultimately, ENJOY! It is super upsetting that “organic” food can lead to toxic levels in our bodies. It is equally unfortunate that nice people experience mean people in their lives and good people get sick. We need to do what we know makes us feel healthy and happy. After that, it is out of our hands.

    • Nancy says:

      I agree with Carol

      • Jackie says:

        Me too. I could drive myself insane worrying about all this stuff, because everything’s contaminated to some level. But I’ve decided to just do my best and let it go – that’s what the longest lived people do. I think mindset is more important, as it is proven that what you believe has more to do with your health and life in general. (the placebo effect! )

    • Marie says:

      Thank you for the information you have provided thus far regarding this topic. I’m concerned since I’ve been drinking different brands of green tea almost daily for several years now. I must say that my head has really been spinning! The more I learn about what’s supposed to be good for you and what’s not, the more confused I’m getting! I eat a plant-based diet, buy organic fruits and vegetables, have practically eliminated all the so-called “bad” foods, increased the so-called “good” foods, drink various organic herbal teas, began trying some super foods, and exercise almost daily, but it’s really overwhelming! There’s just so-o-o-o-o much conflicting information about the best ways to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle! And let me not fail to mention the very expensive costs for organic foods, products, super foods, etc.

      Although I’m not sure about the actual age when the body begins breaking down, I agree with Carol. We need to do the best we can, enjoy our lives and do what makes us feel healthy and happy, in addition to helping others whenever we can.

      I look forward to reading your upcoming book, Kale and Coffee.

  6. Beth says:

    Hi Kevin
    Can you tell us where we can get foods tested. I’d like to at least test the things I consume nearly everyday which includes a particular brand of green tea I’ve been drinking everyday for probably the last 10 years. Thanks for doing so much of this work for us.

  7. Dee says:

    I stopped drinking green tea a couple of years ago, after finally listening to my body. I noticed that I would occasionally feel nauseous after drinking it. Had my chiropractor test and she confirmed that I definitely had a reaction to green tea. And I had been drinking it because it was so good for you.

    As for brand, I drank various kinds.

  8. Mary says:

    The amount of lead in the tea is not that surprising. That info has been all over the web. I think it included both green & black teas.

    Now I am glad I haven’t been drinking the various teas I have on hand.

  9. Chris says:

    dang. Cliff hangers

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