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Snow Ice Cream?? Is it Safe???

Saturday, December 09, 2017

I've never heard of this before when I saw this posted on the Community Goal Feed and my first thought was, 'What about pollution?' I'm sure that most of us who live in snowy areas during wintertime have as kids eaten snow or at least have had a taste - but that was when we were kids - and times have changed along with the increased pollution in the air.

I looked up snow ice cream on the net and the full page of recipes indicates that there is some popularity, but no warnings about pollution. So obviously at least for me more research is needed.

I didn't have to look too far - NPR has an excellent article. Here's what I learned from it.

- The main ingredient of snow is mostly water - with various and sundry things depending on where it comes from - things like sulfates, nitrates, formaldehyde or mercury. (Yikes!!!)
- As snow falls through the sky it's intricate latticework acts like a net catching pollutants in the atmosphere.
- The most common is black carbon, or soot, released by coal-fired plants and wood-burning stoves.
- John Pomeroy, a researcher who studies water resources and climate change at the University of Saskatchewan, suggests it's better to wait until a few hours into the snowfall to gather your fresh catch. Snow acts like a kind of atmospheric "scrubbing brush" . The longer the snow falls, the lower the pollution levels in the air, and thus in the snow.
- However, Jeff S. Gaffney, a professor of chemistry at the University of Arkansas advises if you start to collect snow as soon as it begins to flurry that contaminants in snow are "all at levels well below toxic." (Hmmmmmm, levels well below toxic isn't reassuring to me!)
- Staci Simonich, a professor of environmental and toxic ecology at Oregon State University advised that long-lost pesticides might also show up in snow in some places. She found pesticides that were 30, 40 and 50 years old in high elevations in several U.S. national parks (including Olympic in Washington, Denali in Alaska and Sequoia in California). But the levels were 100 times lower than what's deemed safe for drinking water.
- Simonich says that pesticide concentrations are likely higher in backyard snow in urban and suburban areas. "That being said, I would not hesitate for my children to have the joy of eating a handful of fresh fallen snow from my backyard. ... Because the pesticide concentrations are low and the amount of snow eaten in a handful is small, so the one-time dose is very low and not a risk to health."
- And if it's windy, be extra careful. Sarah Doherty, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington advised that samples of snow taken in the northern Great Plains in 20 - 30 mph winds revealed dirt mixed with the snow. As the falling snow gets closer to the ground, it mixes up with whatever is blowing around so the toxicity level depends on what's in the soil. Think a load of manure delivered in advance of spring planting and suddenly a blizzard whips through, a strong wind can quickly ruin the fresh snowball you'd planned to devour.
- Never eat snow that's been plowed - it likely contains sand and chemicals.
- Amazingly to me even though they note that pollutants like sulfates, mercury and DDT could appear in low levels in snow, almost all the researchers spoken with said they would still eat it, and even savor it. (NOT THIS GIRL!!!)
- However, an atmospheric physical chemist at McGill University in Montreal advised she would not let her kids eat snow in urban areas - she found falling snow can soak up unsavory chemicals from gasoline exhaust in the air, like toluene, xylenes and benzene, a known carcinogen.

Obviously this is an individual choice, and the amount of contaminants are supposedly well below harmful levels, but I for one don't want to add anymore pollutants into my system!!! So for me,

Check out the entire article at: www.npr.org/sect

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I never heard of snow ice cream--LOL-Lynda
    724 days ago
    I would think the same thing. Not for me.
    725 days ago
  • DEE107
    thank you
    725 days ago
    725 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    725 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    Boggles the mind!
    726 days ago
    Times have changed lots of things, some good and some not so good.
    726 days ago
    "Just don't eat the yellow snow." That's what my Mom said 60 years ago.
    Now I wouldn't eat snow. ( I used to eat raw dough and raw beef and I don't do that anymore either!) Too much industrial & exhaust debris in the urban areas, too much dust, dirt, and farm chemical debris in the rural areas. Having said that, I don't believe that a little is going to kill anybody. There are traces of bad things in legal drinking water, not that I am happy about that either. I just feel that tasting snow is part of life. So, I'd tell my kid.....sure, have a little taste of the white, fluffy stuff. Just don't eat the yellow snow.
    726 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/10/2017 8:07:52 AM
    I seem to remember in my childhood an old tyme recipe from pioneer days that was snow and maple syrup. Was that from the book Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder? It sounds wonderful but with the world as it is today, I would pass or try it instead with a SnoCone machine. Shaved ice snow cones are extremely popular in Hawaii and Asia, and condensed sweetened milk is even poured over the shaved ice. Asian countries have a tradition with snow cones and prefer them to ice cream. It's called "patbingsu" in Korea. They sound, for the most part, "healthier" to me than ice cream. Might be something I turn to to replace ice cream, as I am interested in a vegan diet, although the syrups can be artificially flavored and colored. But not all.
    726 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/10/2017 12:15:29 AM
    726 days ago
    I too had snow ice cream when I was a kid many many years ago. I would probably not eat it now or make it for my grandchildren!
    726 days ago
    My mom made snowcream for my brother and me when we were kids. She would never use the snow from the first snow fall. ???? But as I recall, it was delicious. Things were different in the '50s. I do remember the concerns about strontium 90 in milk because of all the nuclear testing in Nevada. If there was strontium 90 or just plain pollution, I guess it was okay as my brother and I are still on the right side of the grass. emoticon
    726 days ago
    Well, my friend...never having made snow ice cream myself, I would say that the few times a child would eat a few flakes or fistfuls of the fluffy stuff is probably way down on my list of things to worry about!
    726 days ago
    Back in the 60s, we used to eat snow by the fist fulls while outside playing in it. I wouldn't eat it now. But perhaps that is just the difference between adult me and kid me. The taste is NOT like water. Also, later in life, I learned it is hard for our bodies to heat snow, so that in a "survival situation" it is best to heat it first before consuming it as if energy resources are low (as in a survival situation) the body uses too much to melt the snow for its water. Interesting. There are also kits available with flavorings (snow cones) but any syrup will do for those who want to try it. Don't know if it is true or not--haven't tried it myself--but some dude on YouTube either sharing an oddity or trying to get clicks/grown his channel has photos of himself supposedly lighting freshly fallen snow on fire with a pocket lighter. Yikes! Hopefully that's just click bait (not true).
    726 days ago
  • no profile photo ELRIDDICK
    Thanks for sharing
    726 days ago
    Thank you for sharing
    726 days ago
    Thanks, but no thanks!
    726 days ago
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