Risk and Reality

My coworker stared at me with horror: “I can’t believe you’re still using those plates!” I half shrugged as I took the paper plate in question out of the microwave. My stoneware bowl was at home and I had forgotten my lunch. The only food available was the frozen broccoli I had left at work the other day.

Thus my choice was to use the paper plates provided at the office, eat my broccoli straight from the freezer, or go without lunch. I was not up for munching on frozen broccoli or going for 5 more hours without food, so I turned back to the evil paper plate.

My coworker was appalled because she had read all of the studies on these particular plates and had previously warned me that it was better to use a plastic storage container to reheat food than to risk the carcinogens and reproductive toxins found in these innocuous-looking plates.

I sincerely appreciated my coworker’s concern, but on this particular day the risk of going without food outweighed my concern about the potentially toxic plates. I try to be reasonably smart about how I treat my body, but it is impossible to truly protect myself. So I seek balance. And “balance” means that every day I knowingly take risks. I expose myself to danger and potential poison in order to live.

I share in a friend’s birthday cake without inquiring about the types of fats used to make it. I drive to the grocery store despite the very real chance of getting in a car accident. I use a cellphone. I take so many risks it is difficult to even think of them: just about everything I do is risky.

And yet, refusing to do what I need to do because I fear risk would be the riskiest option of all.

I have previously posted about why “erring on the side of caution” simply does not make sense to me. And it continues to bother me that so many urge “better safe than sorry!” when their version of “safe” is far, far more dangerous than the particular action which they warn against!

How do you deal with risk, particularly in the area of life and health? Would you have used the paper plate? Gone without lunch? Always been perfect and never left your reusable bowl at home? Done something I haven’t thought of? Do share!

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12 thoughts on “Risk and Reality

  1. Mark S.

    Use the plate and eat. Perfection is an illusion this side of heaven. Worrying about this hypothetical risk vs. that possible risk turns us inward and builds a sense of isolation. We are not going to live forever because we were not made to stay here.

  2. Jessica @ FPL

    I’m with you. We need to be concerned about risks, but only to the extent that the risks that would reasonably interfere with our quality of life. When we become so worried that the worry itself interferes with our quality of life, it’s not worth it.

    I had a similar situation happen at work. I almost always bring the exact same thing for lunch every day–a spinach salad and two PB&J sandwiches. However, there is a rare occasion when we’re out of bread or spinach and we have some Tupperware containers in the fridge with leftovers, so I’ll just bring one of those. If I’m at home, I’ll put the leftovers in a bowl or on a plate before heating them up, but at work I just heat it up and eat it out of the Tupperware because, like I said, it’s once in a blue moon anyway. So on this particular occasion my boss’s boss felt the need to not only make a comment about how what I was heating up (my favorite pasta) looked unappetizing, but that I shouldn’t be heating up plastic in the microwave. I didn’t want to get angry at her so I just shrugged and said, “Well, it’s all I’ve got today.” I appreciate the concern but sometimes you just have to let people make their own decisions.

    1. Rae Post author

      I especially hate the boss’s boss dynamic. The other day one of mine told me that I was making my green tea incorrectly (I don’t like it and just drink it for the slow caffeine).

  3. CM

    Yes, but the plastic containers are also supposed to have carcinogens! So, you’re out of luck there. And your broccoli? How do you know that it doesn’t have E. coli or some other contamination? I’m also concerned if you used a fork, because it’s possible that you might poke yourself.

    I never do anything that might involve risk. It’s like a warning I saw on an exercise mat: “Caution: Physical activity may cause injury.” I realized that it was right, so I sat down on the mat and haven’t gotten up since. Too dangerous.

  4. Meg

    People like that bother me. Like, seriously? I want to tell them to mind their own business but obviously I don’t. I wouldn’t have used the paper plate or starved..I would have went out for lunch, ha! But that’s another issue.

  5. Mama Kalila

    I think it depends on the particular risk. Not eating at all is not an option. I’m hypoglycemic… it could equal bad things very quickly lol. Would I prefer to avoid carcinogens? Sure… I try my best not to microwave plastic. I don’t like paper plates for multiple reasons… but using one when I need to is another story. Other things I do the best I can to cut the risk if possible (esp if its w/ my children) but at some point you have faith. I’m not going to stop taking the car… I will make sure we drive safely and every one is buckled up in the proper manner (even if it ticks people off lol). And def not going to pass up cake lol. Well unless I’m allergic to something in it… cause that’s def not worth it lol.

  6. Michelle

    In that situation I would have eaten the broccoli and the plate. That’s all you ate for lunch, broccoli? Seriously I think I’d pass out from weakness if that’s all I ate. How was the broccoli being stored in the freezer? Could you have put it straight into the micro with no plate?

    I don’t mind risk. Not going to live forever anyway. I scrape off carcinogens when I can see them (like burnt meat) and I care about my health to some extent (mostly to the extent that it affects my weight and bodily functions) but not to the extent of inconvenience or hunger.

  7. Nayhee

    Once I tried to explain to someone that, statistically speaking, their children’s risk of later-in-life cancer was much smaller than the daily risk of driving them around in a car.
    As I recall, it did not go over well. I try not to start conversations like those anymore. (yikes)

  8. Susan

    Buying generic foods instead of expensive organic foods. I figure the damage done to my budget and the stress because of that would be more harmful than the toxins in regular milk.

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