I was reading this week in Mother Jones online magazine that it has been discovered (not by our government) that there is a great deal of plastic residue in most foods we cook. You may or may not of heard of BPA, the chemical that lots of plastics claim to be free of. BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. The FDA says that if you are the worrying type (like me) you can do these things to reduce your family’s exposure to the chemical:
- Seek out BPA-free products. More and more BPA-free products have come to market. Look for products labeled as BPA-free. If a product isn’t labeled, keep in mind that some, but not all, plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
- Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin.
- Avoid heat. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher, because the plastic may break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.
- Use alternatives. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
There is debate in science about whether BPA is the only plastic that acts like the hormone estrogen in the body, and while they debate, I plan on assuming that it is not. BPA free may not mean estrogen-like-chemical-free, so no plastic will surround my foods.
It goes without saying that if you make no effort to limit your BPA exposure, you are getting exposed. The thing about the Mother Jones study though, was that they tested the foods cooked by people that were trying to get no plastic residue in their foods by eating locally produced food and dairy. The news here is that they were getting exposed even though they tried not to. It turned out that eating local was no protection from estrogen-like chemicals from plastics. Researchers then looked for the source, and found that the spices and dairy they were getting locally were the culprits. You should read the article, because the takeaway is that if your food is coming in plastic, you are eating plastic.
Personally I have begun only storing my bulk foods in Mason Jars, and they make really nice ones from half pint all the way to half gallon jars. They fit well in cabinets and on shelves and are better than a replacement for plastic canisters like tupperware. We have eliminated all of that kind of storage from our home. You can’t microwave food in them or cook in them, but that has not been a limitation at all.
We plan on eating local foods from local sources, too, to limit our exposure to industrial herbicides and insecticides, but also to limit the exposure to industrial efforts to turn a profit without regard to it’s effect on my family. By that I mean adding antibiotics and hormones to meats so that the animal will grow unnaturally fast so that it can be harvested without eating so much food, etc.
In the Kansas City area there is a great online source of information about the local food movement, found here. Eat Local KC has links and collections of great information, like this table of local farmer’s markets. I eat at the Liberty market, and also at the market located in the River Quay area of Kansas City, the River Market. Nice thing about it is that it’s near a great spice purveyor at the Habishi House, and also at the Planters near the River Market. I wonder though about plastic contamination now in those spices. Dang you Mother Jones!
Please leave a comment if you currently use a local food provider. I would like to hear some comparisons of the choices we have around here for getting the produce from local farmers, specifically pastured chicken and pork. I know that I have a few friends who have tried it or are getting their fresh foods this way. Let’s hear from you. There is a comment box below!