The Radioactive Diet.

BBC food writer Stefan Gates travelled to Chernobyl in Ukraine and meets with people live there and regularly eat radioactive food:

It turns out that the Chernobyl "Zone of Alienation" is home to several hundred mainly elderly people living illegally in the area, and their attitude to the risks of radiation is very different.

They returned to their homes soon after the disaster and are now growing vegetables and raising livestock again, despite the fact that the entire region is now an empty, isolated and post-apocalyptic vision of abandoned villages and rampant wildlife.

Anna is a wonderful, garrulous 83-year-old babushka who has returned to the Zone of Alienation.

She was outraged to hear that the BBC had instructed me not to eat any of her food and she began a sustained bullying campaign, saying: "What's wrong with you? There's nothing to fear from my food - God will protect you."

Her reasoning was pretty simple: "If it were contaminated we would have died a long time ago, but we've been eating it for 20 years already!"


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This is not as crazy as it sounds. There was a recent BBC documentary about Chernobyl. They found that the contamination risk in areas further from the "epicenter" was not as high as previously believed. The nature around Chernobyl was pretty much normal. The radiation levels were still too high but it wasn't as harmful as expected. No mutations, no altered genes. They offered even the hypothesis that small doses of radiation could even be advantageous to your health since the percentage of cancer deaths was lower in areas with high natural radiance levels. This was true for the US as well.
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