Last Christmas, my fianceé tried to buy reindeer meatballs for her father. It was kind of a tradition to get him some sort of unusual Norwegian treat, since his family is from there. But we couldn’t find them. There was a site that wouldn’t ship them out of Norway, but that was the closest we got.

Honestly, I figured that the demand just wasn’t there for any company to go out of its way to ship them, but Kathy assured me that she’d been able to get them in the past, and, really, the internets make it so easy to buy just about anything, no matter how obscure. My curiosity was piqued, but I didn’t find any information on the missing meatballs until articles started talking about the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. It turned out that the meatballs were banned from export, because 20 years after the initial fallout, a specific type of radiation was falling back to earth in Scandinavia and being absorbed by lichens and fungi.

Reindeer consider the lichens a delicacy. They were eating the contaminated lichens and becoming poisonous.

Now, an article from the New Scientist says that the sheep farmers in Norway are having problems, because sheep like mushrooms, and this particularly wet summer saw a bumper crop.

There’s an amazing quality to a pollutant that can poison thousands of miles from its origin and two decades after the fact. And, sadly, this is only a minor problem with nuclear fallout.

  • Katherine

    And now we can’t find Norwegian cheese either :(