News Blog

Dining with Dioxin

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
March 7, 2012
The Faster Times

Sepon-FishFT400-300x300Mrs. Saw had a gravely voice that bugled commands in a grandmotherly way. “Sit down! she insisted. We obeyed, and she shoved steaming plates and bowls of homemade food our way—minced-meat salad, noodle soup, and fresh fish from the river. We ate at Mrs. Saw’s little wooden restaurant near the old Ho Chi Minh Trail most every day and night for nearly a week. And now I wonder: was her fish laced with dioxins? Was her meat safe to eat?

My husband, Jerry, and I knew US forces had sprayed that part of southern Laos with herbicides (mainly Agent Orange and its colorful cousins) during the Vietnam War. But we didn’t think so much about that spraying as we sat at Mrs. Saw’s table and downed her sticky rice with fish paste, chiles and fragrant herbs. READ MORE