It is well-documented that the typical Seattleite has a substantial surplus of brain cells. This has usually served the city well, though sometimes that magnificent mass of gray matter has a tendency of causing its leaders to think too much, which can result in big, important decisions being delayed for a decade or more. The Viaduct, for example, may come to mind.
But now comes the discouraging news that eating sushi -- and lord knows, Seattle adores its sushi -- may put a serious crimp on ones brain power. Too much mercury in sharks, swordfish and tunas can result in restricted brain development, and bring on, at the very least, the early stages of ignorance and stupidity.
While this may be welcome news for Tea Party recruiters, this is not going to go down well among Seattle's intelligentsia, many of whom hope one day to send their two multicultural-oriented children, Isabella and Jacob, to The Bush School.
A sushi-fueled Tea Party rally
The studies, as the Global Post reports, shows that mercury toxicity is on the rise and that eating too much sushi could play havoc with our cerebrums and cerebellums.
Whether this means it is wise to ingest no more than one California roll per week, per month, or per year, the reports prepared by the Maine-based Biodiversity Research Institute and the Zero Mercury Working Group do not say.
"Levels of exposure that are defined as safe by the official limits, are actually having adverse effects," said Dr. Edward Groth, author of one the studies published ahead of a United Nations conference on mercury pollution.
"These are not trivial effects, these are significant effects," added Groth, an adviser to the World Health Organization. "There does appear to be evidence now, fairly persuasive evidence, that adverse effects occur from normal amounts of seafood consumption."
The Global Post story goes on:
Scientists have warned about the potential dangers of mercury in seafood since the 1950s when mercury-contaminated waste water was dumped in the sea from a factory in Minamata, Japan. Thousands suffered poisoning, which in extreme cases led to insanity, deformation and death. Many children whose mothers had eaten contaminated fish were born with severe disabilities.
The mercury levels at Minamata were uniquely high, but since then scientists have sought to discover whether tiny traces of mercury found in seafood across the oceans could have an impact on the health of fish-eating humans.
Although little risk has been detected in most types of fish, the authorities have long warned vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women and small children, to limit their consumption of certain species of big ocean predators.
Alarmed by the revelations that our brain may be endangered by one too many Maguro Nigiris or soy sauce-drenched Tekkamakis, The Daily Weekly called a few Seattle sushi joints to see if they too shared our heartbreak.
"I don't agree [with the studies' conclusions]," said a chef at Sushi Maki on Capitol Hill.
"Everyone has their own opinion," said the man who answered the phone at Musashi's in Wallingford. He then hung up.
"I don't know about this, but I do know that tuna, too much tuna may have mercury and not good for pregnant woman," said Lea Lin, a hostess at Japonessa in downtown Seattle.
Throwing caution to the wind, we've just placed a takeout sushi order. If you notice a story later today that seems dumbed down, you'll know why.