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How an Iodine-Soaked Bindi is Saving Women’s Lives Across India

The “life-saving dot” is part cultural adornment, part innovative medical tech, and a wholly unique way to make a difference.

image via vimeo screen capture

The bindi, South-East Asia’s immediately-recognizable forehead adornment, has been many things over the course of its history: Religious signifier, meditative aid, and lately, part of the ongoing conversation about cultural appropriation. For scores of women across India, however, the bindi has becomes something else entirely: A life saver, providing much-needed relief to rural communities in which a dangerous vitamin deficiency has been linked to everything from pregnancy complications to breast cancer.

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Food Studies: What You Don't Know About Iodine, the Element of the Moment

How iodine tablets protect against radiation, iodine-laced cattle feed, and "chop-and-die" cassava: Exploring the complex chemistry of iodine.

Food Studies features the voices of volunteer student bloggers from a variety of different food- and agriculture-related programs at universities around the world. Don't miss Amy's first post, in which she describes quitting her ad agency job to go back to school and study nutrition at the ripe old age of 30!

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Feast Your Eyes: Radioactive Wasabi

Japanese authorities update the list of contaminated foods while the FDA tests produce at U.S. ports.


As contaminated water leaks into the ocean from the the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, and the soil near the plant tests positive for plutonium, Japanese authorities have updated the list of the nation's contaminated foods.

Milk, spinach, and other leafy greens grown in Miyagi and neighboring prefectures were already known to contain elevated levels of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137, but now 99 more products have tested positive for radioactive contamination—although most still at levels considered safe to eat for everyone but infants and pregnant women.

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