WOULD you like to eat rat poison? Probably not, but that’s OK, because you’ve eaten it already. Most milk in the United States has rat poison added to it. If you find this disturbing, you can always start reading ingredient lists and don’t buy milk that has rat poison in it. You won’t see “rat poison” as such on the label, however, because manufacturers generally call it by its other name instead.
The other name for rat poison is Vitamin D.
Believe it or not, vitamin D is often used to kill rats. (Not the only chemical used to do that, of course, but a common one.) It’s completely tasteless so rats keep eating bait laced with vitamin D without ever realizing they’re getting hit with a huge huge huge overdose. This might sound bizarre because most of us think of vitamin D as an essential nutrient. And it is. But anything — even an essential nutrient — is potentially toxic if you eat, drink or inhale too much.
I’m often frustrated by the way people talk and think about “chemicals”. I see “chemical-free” products on sale at the supermarket and I wonder what that means. I hear protesters demand that industry stop putting “synthetic chemicals” into our children’s bodies and I wonder if they know what that means or if they know what they’re talking about. Because they think that synthetic chemicals are dangerous, and many of them are.
But so is the grilled meat you barbecue on the Fourth of July. Because grilled meat is carcinogenic. I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect it’s probably the second most carcinogenic thing in your home right after the log fire in your fireplace, which (unless you smoke cigarettes or use asbestos) is probably the most carcinogenic thing you have around. Although people don’t realize it, fireplace smoke contains most of the same carcinogens as the fumes from a lit cigarette. But nobody wants to ban grilled meat and log fires, because grilled meat and log fires seem natural. They seem safe.
Which just goes to show how deceptive appearances can be.