It seems as though panic has raised its persistent head again among those committed to feeding their birds a healthy, nutritiously sound diet. While I commend people for their concern, their research and their commitment, there’s only so much I can handle before I want to just crawl into a hole and pull the hole in after me.
I’ve been kicking around for a while, meaning I remember the day Kennedy was shot. Bear in mind, I was really, really young, but that was kind of a big deal day, so yes, I remember bits and pieces of it.
Nevertheless…. through that time, the world, especially the United States has gone through their fair share of health scares, nutritional rumors as well as really stupid theories. Let’s review shall we?
Anyone remember the deal with alar in apple juice? Meryl Streep got all hot under the collar on that one and turns out she was right, but not until after the hoopla died down and things were quietly fixed.
Then when I was about 9, my family got their first color TV and my Mom was all, “You have to sit at least 6 feet away from the screen or you’ll die of cancer.” Or I’d go blind or some such stuff.
Cyclamates were a huge deal when I was kid and around that same time, using salt became evil.
When I was 14 and got a pretty interesting looking complexion, (Think “Zits”) My Mom was all, “Pizza and chocolate! That’s what causes acne! You wouldn’t have a problem if you didn’t eat all that pizza!” My tactfully asking if it was okay to eat spaghetti which essentially contains the same ingredients fell on deaf ears.
My Dad told me a good one: When he was in his teens, he had acne as well. Dad had a rather oily complexion which is why when he was about 80 he looked around 60. But of course, possessing a complexion like that when you’re a teenager tends to flare up when you’re younger and his Doctor told him to eat cakes of yeast when he was in his teens.
Of course that was around 1930, so you must consider that things were relatively “stone knives and bear skins” compared to what we know today. Apparently he did what he was told and he probably could have started his own bakery. But it didn’t do a thing about his complexion.
Move on up to more recent issues. I remember a scientist on TV stating that the next “Superbug” was Avian flu. Before that was swine flu. Then there was SARS. MRSA is in there as well. And those Africanized Killer Bees were going to jump the fence at the Mexican border and kill us all.
And of course we had the “Butter is Bad-No, Butter is good!” argument that went on for a couple of years. Barbecued foods cause cancer. Eggs are bad for you because they are loaded with cholesterol.
This has gone on for decades and I’m only posting the major ones I can remember. Of course the avian community has their little tizzies:
Yes, when I first got into birds, parsley was a killer. Now? Well, I guess not. Tomato wars. The garlic controversy. It has gone on for years and continues.
And now the latest?
Rice. Yes, rice.
When writing this up I asked my friend Nancy if she remembered the alar and apple thing. Nancy responded with, “If you knew what half the shit that was in your food, you’d never eat again.” Spoken like a true Flight Attendant.
Back to the rice thing. Apparently rice contains arsenic. (Insert screaming sounds.) But then, so do apple seeds. And while it doesn’t exactly make me want to jump up and down with glee, I am waiting for the jury to return with the verdict. I’ve gotten too worked up over other issues before to let this one faze me. Why? Well for one thing, rice is not a really big percentage of my birds diet.
Want to try it? Click on the rice to get the link.
And the rice I do feed is wild rice which is actually an aquatic grass. I don’t know if that makes a difference, but a lot of wild rice comes Minnesota and only the wild rice in the top third of the state is cultivated. Does this matter? I don’t know, but it seems to me that it does. Is this going to effect the way I feed my birds? Probably not because I don’t feed tons of rice to my birds in the first place.
So what am I, as a responsible companion parrot person going to do about it?
I’ll read up about it and see what else I can find out and make decisions based on what I find. In the meantime, I’m probably not going to get all that worked up about it. I’m too busy waiting for those Killer Bees.
Yes, Belushi’s Killer Bee Sketch was based on this story: Killer Bees
February 26, 2013 at 11:03 am
What’s the saying, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater?”
February 26, 2013 at 11:10 am
Pretty much, Deb…pretty much.
February 26, 2013 at 11:13 am
OMG! Have the billions of people in China and Southeast Asia been warned about the #1 staple in their diet slowly poisoning them?
February 26, 2013 at 11:20 am
……AND IT WILL NEVER END!….LOL!
February 26, 2013 at 11:22 am
Wild rice is not rice at all, says this proud Louisiana citizen and attendee of the Yellow Rails and Rice Festival. True brown rice has been an important ingredient of my home-cooked soak and cook for years, and as far as I know, I might hold the oldest-living known peachfront conures. (They’ll turn 23 in April.) My yellow-crowned Amazon is over 40. Loves rice. I’m truly tired of the sellers of food fear! Good for you, speaking out over this. I remember the “parsley kills” controversy of the 80s myself. I guess my birds don’t get that much parsley, the caterpillars generally get it all down here, but sheesh.
All this noise prevents regular people from picking out the true dangers to birds like avocado.
February 26, 2013 at 11:23 am
Well, IF you are in an area where there are killer bees…like Arizona or other southern states, please run indoors quickly if you see a bunch of bees in a swarm coming toward you…or you could be dead. These killer bees have killed horses tied to a post, dogs in their yard, a whole outdoor aviary full of canaries, and IF they can get a human…that person might also die. These cases I am quoting are actual cases…every one of them.
Now, as to the rice, the parsley, the apple seeds, I agree that this is NONSENSE and most reports about foods like these reports should be studied and then probably ignored.
Reports about E.coli on leafy greens, or reports of pesticides on some fruit, then that is another matter.
February 26, 2013 at 11:31 am
Laurella, my reference to the Killer Bee thing was that in the 70’s when this first came out, it was supposed to spread like wildfire and wipe out the country. I am not denying they exist. Not am I denying the existence if MRSA, SARS, alar, or much of what I wrote about. I’m simply saying we shold approach this with a little common sense and not get all twisted up until we get to the bottom line. I’m just not into knee-jerk reactions. That’s all. When I first began flying we noticed many pilots wearing yellow T-shirts. There was a report that came out from “Somewhere” that a yellow T-shirt prevented exposure to the radiation coming through the skin of the aircraft. 25 years later, we don’t see many yellow T-shirts. And I think all those guys wearing those T-shirts have since turned their Y to K disaster bunkers into a spare storage room under the garage.
February 26, 2013 at 11:55 am
the info about parsley was because (in humans) a LOT of parsley can act as a diuretic. By ‘a LOT’ we are probably talking about eating bunches and bunches of it EVERYDAY. A little in a bird’s salad, mash, chop or as a small treat most likely is fine. Unfortunately, over time it has morphed into ‘PARSLEY IS DANGEROUS!!! Like so many other things.
And, as far as avocado info goes, wild parrots are often seen eating them.
We do NOT know how they can tell which ones are safe vs. which ones are NOT. So, we don’t feed them to our birds (and they are FRIGHTFULLY expensive anyway!!!).
Apparently the levels of persin (and active toxic ingredient that leads to respiratory and cardiac issues) is very high until the fruit is ripe, then drops drastically – within a day or so. There was a long and interesting debate about htis very topic on an aviculture list a short while ago. I will see if I can find some links to the research info for you.
Since we (humans) can’t tell if they are ripe or not, and our birds will generally eat things we offer them as ‘safe’ foods, we just avoid the potential dangers an don’t feed it to parrots.
Softbills, on the other hand, relish avocado and eat it with no problems.
February 26, 2013 at 11:56 am
Oh – and apple seed? Gosh.. my birds get them in the small apples I feed whole. They LOVE those tiny apples, they don’t EAT the seeds or the core… but they are in there. Birds are still alive and kicking.
February 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm
I buy my rice from an international market. The rice is grown in India or Asia.It is only rice grown in the US that has the arsenic problem due to the many years of using fertilizers. Consumer Reports had a long article on this a few months ago.
February 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm
I get it Patricia. We’ve grown weary of all the red flag waving.
February 26, 2013 at 7:22 pm
Well, I’m over it. It just starts to become meaningless after a while. Screaming “Wolf” every five minutes doesn’t do anyone any good.