Saturday, March 26, 2011

Radiation scares

A couple of years ago I was pushing to become a "Sparkletts" family. (Well, not Sparkletts but the Japanese counterpart.) Tetsu often bought the 2 liter plastic bottles of water (when he wasn't buying the 2 liter bottles of cola) and I really felt that getting rid of all the plastic bottles was a pain not to mention not so good for the environment. We even looked into the Sparkletts option but Tetsu determined that it was too costly. The Japanese version gives you refrigerated and heated water from the same machine... Hot tea at your fingertips. But Tetsu and I aren't really tea drinkers and I couldn't see me using the hot water side... and the electricity to keep the machine running was high in the long run (that's probably why the company was hooked up with an electronic shop.)

I finally convinced Tetsu that Nikko was famous for its delicious water and tap water was just as good as expensive water shipped in from who knows where. (And believe you me... someone didn't go stand by a green bubbling spring and put water in those 2 liter bottles. The label just makes you think they did.) I felt very environmentally conscious just thinking that the water from my tap wasn't processed into bottles that had to be made, and labels printed, and guzzling gasoline to be delivered to stores, and more gasoline for me to go buy it, and more energy used to recycle the plastic bottles and caps. Whew! And truly, Nikko tap water has always been delicious so we've never missed the bottled water.

Until now... I'm not really missing it yet. We have not run to the supermarket trying to buy bottled water because the news reports that there is no bottled water to be bought anymore. Bottled water that is being made somewhere and processed into bottles and delivered to evacuation centers do NOT have labels on them because the label printer can't keep up with the demand. We are drinking tap water still. I don't know if that's smart or not but Nikko residents haven't been told to NOT drink the water (actually mothers were advised not to give tap water to their babies, but even that caution has been lifted.) It is not just drinking of course. What about water to make coffee? To make the daily rice? To cook? A lot to think about and my mind gets sluggish. Whoops... I just made a pot of coffee from tap water. Should we drink it? I guess we should have bought the water machine. Too late now.

Our area has now been warned about vegetables too. "It is safe to eat but if you are worried about it then there is a warning not to consume too much." The farmers are getting worried about what is going to happen to their crops. The street markets that set out buckets from local farmers don't know how long customers will buy their produce. The dairies are worried about their milk. Contaminated or not, when people hear it comes from Fukushima or this area they are not going to be making a run to buy.

During this season, my neighbors produce a lot of their vegetables in hot houses to protect from frost. In the near future it looks like these vegetables will be in demand but even those are radiation suspect. How on earth is Japan going to lodge the economic boulder that is teetering to fall down on them. It is so sad to see the old farmers with tears in their eyes.

It is hard to find the balance between going on as normal and being foolish.

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