Just recently, police in Tampa Bay reported an entire family had to be hospitalized after meat purchased from their local Walmart was found to contain LSD—a psychoactive drug that causes intense hallucinations. Though unrelated, a case from more than 50 years ago shows just how serious LSD-tainted foods can be, particularly when they are administered by the CIA.
The Morales family of Tampa Bay had eaten bottom round steak for dinner one night last week. One by one, they fell ill.
The father, Ronnie, was the first. His pregnant girlfriend took him to St. Joseph’s hospital. While there, she also became ill and was rushed across the street to St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, where she was induced and delivered her baby.
Both children in the house,7-year old Elyana and 6-year old Rayna, experienced hallucinations and felt sick. The kids and their father had to receive tracheal intubation while hospitalized.
After collecting various foods from the home, officials discovered the meat had been contaminated with LSD. Though Walmart has received no other similar complaints, they are said to be cooperating fully with the investigation and removed all similar cuts of meat from that store location.
This isolated incident is frightening, to be sure, but it is nothing like the LSD contamination that took place in Pont-Saint-Esprit in southeast France in 1951. According to an American investigative journalist, it was there that the CIA laced local food with the hallucinogen to study mind control during the cold war.
On August 16, 1951, villagers began experiencing hallucinations. Five people died and dozens had to be institutionalized for their behavior and delusions.
According to The Telegraph:
“One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: “I am a plane”, before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to put it back. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets.”
Until recently, the prevailing theory was that the town’s baker contaminated the bread with ergot, a hallucinogenic mold. But H.P. Albarelli Jr. says it was a much more sinister cause. The bread mold was actually an excuse created and circulated by the Swiss pharmaceutical company who was supplying the CIA and U.S. Army with LSD.
According to Albarelli, interviews he conducted in the research phase of his book on CIA “Secret Cold War Experiments” revealed the true nature of the village’s brush with insanity. LSD wasn’t only put in the food, he alleges, but spread through the air.
Though the Tampa Bay case is likely far less sinister than this decades-old story out of France, we’d all do good to take some lessons from both—lessons in sourcing our foods locally and being aware that the risks inherent when we give up our control of the food supply are many.