The rice harvest is traditionally a time of festivities celebrated even by the Emperor, as farmers reap the rewards of four months of labor in a 2,000-year-old tradition. But not this year, with radiation seeping into the soil.
Farmers growing half of the nation’s rice crop are awaiting the results of tests to see if their produce has been contaminated by radiation from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Rice, used in almost all meals and the key ingredient in sake, is being tested before the harvest starts this month. Radiation exceeding safety levels has so far been found in produce including spinach, tea and beef.
Shigehide Oki, a 61-year-old farmer near Tokyo, this week passed the first hurdle after a preliminary round of tests showed no trace elements of radioactive cesium, the main source of concern. Losing his crop of about 80 tons of rice would "destroy" him, he said.
Read the rest of the story: Half of rice harvest to be tested for cesium.