Is There Something Lurking In Our Beloved Perique?

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

.

.

mtwaller

Preferred Member
Nov 21, 2018
578
340
30
Atlanta, GA
I had a 7 hour drive down to Florida today, and as I was cruising (hauling ass) down the freeway, I tuned in to an interesting piece about an 85 mile stretch of Louisiana known informally as “Cancer Alley”. Massive petrochemical plants are producing all sorts of highly toxic things I can’t pronounce, as well as storing and disposing of large amounts of chemicals and waste from their manufacturing processes. A cursory google search produces some mildly alarming numbers related to the amount of chemicals released into the air and water. Cancer rates and respiratory diseases both seem to exceed the national average by a fair bit. Could be that all of these people chain smoke their cigarettes and work in these plants without protecting themselves, so the cancer rate statistic might not be as telling as it seems.
However, it is pretty clear that these factories are dumping shit loads of chemicals into the surrounding environment. Our current political climate of deregulation on environmental protection policies only increases the rate of pollution, I’m sure. So as I’m listening to this piece, they bring in an activist to discuss his story about loads of cancer deaths in his community and guess where the gentleman is from? You guessed it - St. James, Louisiana! I hopped over to google for a quick geography refresher, and St. James Parish sits smack in the middle of “Cancer Alley”. I’m not one for shouting doom and gloom and jumping to conclusions, but it seems possible that our much loved Perique could be absorbing some of these chemicals from the air, soil, and water, no?
I’d be interested to hear from some people who are knowledgeable about the cultivation conditions of Perique, to know if they can say with certainty that this tobacco is not absorbing and retaining any of this toxic material? Are there any scientists among us who perhaps have the knowledge and means to perform some sort of chemical analysis on St. James perique to see if there is anything unwanted lurking within? A huge draw of smoking pipe tobacco is that it isn’t pumped full of chemicals like the cigarettes I used to smoke. I would be fairly devastated if Perique turned out to be chock full of toxic material, too.

 

weezell

Preferred Member
Oct 12, 2011
10,396
5,711
My theory is that if St. James perique is going to kill me, it will have to wait in line. There's a whole lot of shit gonna kill me before that... :twisted:

 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,727
2,345
Reasonable deductive reasoning on the part of the OP. I am only speculating but would guess the miniscule amount of these chemicals that may have come in contact with the tobacco leaves in St James Parish would not likely make their way into our bodies in any significant amounts. Certainly not anywhere close to the amounts infested by the local residents who are breathing,drinking and eating it on a daily basis. Also consider that Perique is a condiment vegetal less than 5% of the total blend. Again, I think the logic chain is reasonable but I believe reality would be a different story.

 

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

.

.

mtwaller

Preferred Member
Nov 21, 2018
578
340
30
Atlanta, GA
Fair points, Hoosier. But I do enjoy blends that have high perique contents of 25-40%. If it does contain unwanted chemicals, and you smoked these hefty blends multiple times a day for 10, 20, 30 years... I wonder if it would be enough to have significant impact on your health?

 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,727
2,345
What do you smoke that is 40%? Here's the thing. If you smoke for 30 years, it is likely to have a negative affect on your health. If you're overly concerned about your health, stop smoking, start eating organic foods only and take up yoga.

 

mtwaller

Preferred Member
Nov 21, 2018
578
340
30
Atlanta, GA
Obviously tobacco can and likely will affect your health. That’s a risk we’ve all presumably signed up for. What we DIDN’T sign up for is petrochemical waste and the like. I’m not saying it’s in there, or in significant quantities. I’m not a scientist. But I do believe it bears more investigating.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,709
794
The carcinogens you activate when you apply flame to the leaf are plenty. What's a few more chemicals? It's all about the taste. If you're worried about your health ... quit smoking.

 

davidy97

Junior Member
Jan 20, 2017
96
61
I’m pretty sure our current political climate is not allowing the petrochemical plants to dump their toxic waste in the st james perique fields. Although some fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that allow successful tobacco harvests are produced from products generated by those chemical plants you passed.

 

mtwaller

Preferred Member
Nov 21, 2018
578
340
30
Atlanta, GA
I’m not suggesting that chemicals are being dumped directly into tobacco fields. I’m simply pointing out that the plants in the area where this tobacco is grown are releasing hundreds of thousands of pounds of chemicals into the air on an annual basis. This stuff doesn’t just disappear, it ends up being absorbed into organic matter and local groundwater. Couple that with leakage from storage facilities and unintended releases and spills... you get the idea. I’m not stating definitively that Perique is tainted with this material, but it’s certainly possible. I’m just trying to start a dialog about it, in case people weren’t aware of the environmental issues that plague St. James and surrounding areas. I love Perique, I dearly hope it’s not chock full of this stuff.

 

newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,503
59
Similarly, I've read that the rate of cancer is higher than 'normal' in the area of FL that produces phosphate.

Phosphate is used to grow stuff.

As usual, moderation is 'the key'.
upon further review: I find that the incidence of cancer is related to radiation as a by product of the phosphate mine.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/central-florida-homeowners-sue-over-toxic-radiation-from-phosphate-mines-300422008.html

 

jazz

Preferred Member
Feb 17, 2014
787
4
UK
A valid concern, sensibly raised I think and it is certainly food for thought.

 

pappymac

Preferred Member
Feb 26, 2015
1,869
73
I always like philosophical discussions that basically start out with “I was bored out of mind and the thought hit me.” :D
That being said, mtwaller brings up some interesting points and there may be some validity to them. Consider this, some plants or trees will not grow in some soil if the r.ight nutrients aren’t present. So, the plants must pull the nutrients from the soil. This makes the question of does the tobacco pull contamiments feasible. But considering that perique has been growing in the region for about 150 years and the plants were not there before the 1950s, I would hypothesize that the soil hasn’t absorbed dangerous levels yet.
As for the well documented problem of “Cancer Alley” I think they have attributed the larger problem currently being airborne pollution. I think they do need to start worrying about the pollutants in the Mississippi River coming downstream from the farmlands of middle America.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
19,595
4,250
Outer Space
Petrochemicals might be what gives the St. James perique it's zesty edge over all of the other perique sold.
I did a bit of Googling about this morning. St. James just got the ok to start building their Formosa plant this Winter. It hasn't even started producing. It seems that a lot of the more recent articles use one from 2017 to make their argument that the Formosa plant should be stopped. St. James is a part of the area known as Cancer Alley, but it has not had the factories that the surrounding areas have had until they got the OK to build Formosa. They are attempting to bring it to the public's attention that building the plant would contribute to the problems that the surrounding area already has.
If you go to the La Poche perique factory (the word "factory" is a stretch), you will find a small building on a small family farm of a couple of acres. It's in a small rural neighborhood of sorts. Across the street is a tobacco field submerged in the waters of where the Mississippi meets the bayou. Water just rises up out of the ground as you walk across it, and many times in the year the field is flooded.
The "factory" is a room where the leaves are sorted and one where the barrels are pressed. I've said this many times, but to instill how little perique is produced there and how small this hobby is, one could easily put the world's perique supply from St. James in a two car garage and still have room for a lawnmower and other tools. We aren't talking about any machinery, or assembly lines. We are talking about a few people who only work a few times a year, in someone's backyard style butler building. Besides air conditioning and lights (lights in only one of the rooms) there is really no need for electricity to make perique. We have a guy who makes stained glass windows in my town that has more of a factory than La Poche. Rinky Dinky...
Now, the leaves that are used to make perique... very little of it actually comes from St. James. According to Mark Ryan, most are sourced from Canada and Kentucky and Tennessee. So, very little of the leaf spends any amount of time in St. James before it is pressed. So, if someone spent a week in St. James, they would accumulate more of these carcinogens than the perique would.
So, give or take the threats along with how small that little perique factory is, I don't think anyone has anything to worry about. In Mark's lecture he mentions the many larger molecules and unintended chemicals produced in making perique, as well as the way the process decreases the nicotine down drastically in the perique by forming it into newer chemicals that have a different affect on the body... given that it forms a new drug that increases the absorption of nicotine from the leaves combined with perique, such as the Virginia or burleys... I'd be more worried about the perique by itself, without any affects from petrochemical byproducts.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
15,381
4,956
Monterey Peninsula
Nothing to see here. Double post. Sorry.
Remember: Opinions are like buttocks; only those which are well-formed should be shown in public.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,398
2,893
Now, the leaves that are used to make perique... very little of it actually comes from St. James. According to Mark Ryan, most are sourced from Canada and Kentucky and Tennessee.
So now all you have to do is find out who's dumping what contaminants where this is grown. Then you'll be better able to deal with your progeny's webbed feet.
We have a Leukemia pocket in the Simi Valley and area surrounding Santa Susanna. We've been assured that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Santa Susanna nuclear meltdown. Just a coincidence...

 

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

.

.