July 15, 2021
I received a news feed from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) yesterday about a semitrailer that had crashed into a local lake. The truck was carrying 20,000 pounds of ramen noodles when it toppled into the lake. According to the Facebook post the semi was lying on its side in Lake Conway in Faulkner County around 3 pm CDT. The driver of the truck was not injured, authorities told the television station. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality was notified, and a HAZMAT crew was on the scene. As the wrecker was removing the truck from the lake, the AGFC said there did not appear to be any contamination to the lake.
When I checked online, I found that instant ramen noodles are made with wheat flour that has been fortified with synthetic forms of nutrients like iron and B vitamins to make the noodles more nutritious. They still lack important nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Ramen also has a lot of calories without the nutrients of a more balanced meal with a protein, vegetables, and complex carbs. While one serving (43 grams) of ramen noodles has only 188 calories, most people consume the entire package, or two servings (371 calories). The ramen can be made more nutritious by adding additional ingredients, but that takes time and effort, something most consumers (myself included) do not have, or they would not be eating ramen in the first place.
Apparently, I was not the only one who found the accident report humorous. By Wednesday, the story had been picked up by the Miami Herald, which commented on the social media response to the event. Most comments referred to the inexpensive cost of ramen. One person wrote on Facebook, “Glad he only lost $120 in cargo.” Another wrote, “Twenty thousand pounds of Ramen??? The load value of $26 was a total loss.” Others commented on the heat wave that was buffeting Arkansas on Tuesday (93F). “In this weather, the noodles should ‘bout be done!!” I was glad to see I was not the only one with a twisted sense of humor.
Thoughts: What intrigued me most about the story of ramen noodles was the response of the AGFC to send a HAZMAT team to the site. I wonder what the HAZMAT team thought they were trying to prevent. I am always amazed by the response government agencies take toward environmental risks. While a ramen spill brought an immediate response, corporate water pollution results in decades of litigation to force any change. In a report on water quality in the US in 2009, 44% of assessed stream miles, 64% of assessed lake acres, and 30% of assessed bays and estuarine square miles were classified as polluted. Unsafe water kills more people each year than war and other forms of violence combined. It is estimated that water pollution is the leading worldwide cause of death and diseases, accounting for 1.8 million deaths in 2015. The extent of our polluted water resources is not humorous and needs to be addressed. Otherwise, we will have no water for our ramen. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.