BPA: Not welcome here…

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I’ve mentioned that overall I’m not into the all-natural trend. However, because I’ve chosen to try to eliminate as much BPA from our lives as possible, a lot of times my only option for certain BPA-free things is to go with all-natural options, or to simply make things myself.

Why have I specifically chosen BPA as the chemical that I’m trying to eliminate from our diets?

Well, according to Wikipedia, BPA, or bisphenol-A, is thought to be an endocrine disruptor – in effect it acts like a hormone in the body (specifically estrogen). There aren’t really any concrete studies that show this to be true, at least not for humans, but in the animal testing that’s been done, several icky effects of elevated BPA levels have been noted:

– Links between high levels of BPA and obesity
– Interference with brain cell connections vital to memory, learning, and mood
– Increases dopamine activity, which makes one more likely to have ADD, ADHD
– Heightened sensitivity to drugs of abuse
– Increased risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer

Wikipedia.org

There are plenty of other items on the list, but the above are the scariest/most concerning to me. Almost daily we can find a news story about the obesity epidemic in our nation, as can we find an article about cancer.

Do I think BPA is the sole cause of these things? Likely not. But if I can reduce the chances of my family having to experience any of those negative effects, I will – and it’s really not that difficult, thankfully!

So, what are the biggest sources of BPA in our diets/lives?

– Plastic containers, specifically reusable containers (microwave dishes, storage containers, etc).
– Soda cans. Yep… just another reason to kick that soda habit!
– Canned foods, especially tomatoes and green beans

For someone like me, who initially wasn’t interested in cooking beyond what I could prepare from a package (and who also really enjoys her soda!), seeing that list almost made me want to cry. My cupboards were stocked with canned foods – especially tomatoes; we usually had several 12-packs of soda on hand; and plastic microwave dishes were all we had.

To be honest, my journey into learning to cook more, and be more “domesticated,” stemmed mostly from my research and desire to eliminate/greatly reduce the BPA in our lives. And it really hasn’t been so bad. Yes, we still use plastic containers, but typically heat up our food with our Corelle dishes. I have all but eliminated canned food – and I’ve found that once you switch to freezer or fresh (or a combo, which is necessary here in the winter) – canned food has a distinctively metallic taste (gross!) anyway. As for soda? Well… I still like it too much to give it up, so I’ve tried to switch to bottled as much as I am able – though cans still show up in our house from  time to time.

Some of the harder things have been finding a substitute for canned food items that aren’t available fresh all year. Pumpkin? Try finding a pumpkin in a grocery store in Minnesota in the winter or spring. Tomatoes? Yeah, you can find them all year round, but they aren’t always so great (looks- or taste-wise). How about the Thanksgiving staple of cranberry sauce – the jellied kind that comes out of the can with the lines still molded into it? Well, after an experience trying to make my own – I did some research and was SO happy to find that the linings of cranberry cans DO NOT contain BPA (yay!)

As I continue on this search for BPA-free items, I’ve found that we end up reducing our exposure to other non-desirable things in food as well. Soy (a phytoestrogen possibly linked to breast cancer), MSG, food dyes, preservatives, etc… a lot of those things are gone or nearly eliminated from our diets. I’ll detail some of my choices for replacements and some of my struggles in making or obtaining BPA-free replacements in future posts.

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