Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Food and Plastic Don't Mix

There is no doubt about it, using plastic makes our lives easier, but at what health expense and the expense to the environment

We use plastic storage containers, plastic baggies, plastic water bottles, plastic wrap,
etc. But studies are continuing to reveal that all of this plastic contains harmful chemicals
 that leach into our food and liquids.These chemicals can mimic estrogen. Plastic exposes
 us to some potential risks, especially when we use plastics to store food and beverages.

What's the concern about plastics?

Plastic containers contain chemicals that break down in response to temperature, causing harmful chemicals to leak into the very food or beverage the container is holding. These chemicals
are not intended to be ingested and are not safe for anyone, but especially not safe
for infants and children.

Two of the chemicals, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates can cause disturbances in
the body chemistry because they mimic the hormone estrogen and trigger hormonal
 imbalances. They may also interfere with the endocrine system which can lead to
 insulin resistance, lower sperm count, and belly fat.

These chemicals that may cause hormone and endocrine imbalances are becoming increasingly concerning since the use of plastic is so commonplace and Americans store food in plastic containers, coverfood with plastic wrap, drink water from plastic containers, use juice and soft drinks that
have been stored in plastic bottles, freeze food in plastic and microwave in plastic containers.

In the past few years, when the research indicated that BPA ( bisphenol A) was turning out in
 breast milk, in urine samples, and other tests, manufacturers were pressured to try to stop
 using BPA and we began to see plastic containers that said , BPA-free. We all thought that
 this made our plastic containers safe. Not so. Although the BPA was indicated as removed
from some specially marked plastics like plastic baby bottle nipples, pacifiers, and
 specific plastic containers, there are many other chemicals still in the plastic which
are still potentially harmful.

What can you do?

Here are some simple changes you can make  to reduce the amount of chemicals
you are exposed to.
  • Use glass containers to store, freeze, and heat food ; avoid plastic at all costsTemperature changes, both hot and cold, can break down the fibers in plastic and make the plastic chemicals more likely to continue to leak into your food. Purchase glass containers that are made to store, freeze, and microwave food. ( mason jars are great for storage too) 
  • Take Out- When you order take out food from a restaurant, do not accept hot food or soup  in plastic containers ( styrofoam might be better and remove it asap)  The plastic will melt right into your  food or soup and expose you to high  levels of estrogen-like chemicals that play havoc with your hormone balance and insulin. If you like to take out dinner from restaurants, why not bring your own containers and ask them to put your take-out into your glass or metal container. I've brought a covered pot for soup when we've ordered enough for four in a neighborhood Chinese restaurant that we frequent. I know it's awkward, but it better for your health.
  • Do not put plastic in the dishwwasher-  The heat of the dishwasher and the detergents may cause plastics to break down faster ,which may cause these  harmful chemicals to leak into your food more easily next time you use it.
  • Learn the Plastic Codes- Plastic containers are coded with a number on the bottom of the container  - According to the Environmental Working Group, which is a non profit organization that does independent reseach for environmental safety, plastics with a number of 1, 2, 4 and 5 are considered a little safer than plastic with a number of  3, 6, 7 which contain the most harmful chemicals. ( you will see the number on the bottom of a water bottle for instance) Also, any containers maked with the letters  "PC" means that it contains even additional harmful chemicals.
  • Don't Drink Bottled Water that comes in plastic containers- This daily exposure really adds up and the estrogen like effects can become cumulative in your body.   I
  • If you must microwave-Use paper towel or glass plates to cover food  in the microwave, never never use plastic
By cutting down or eliminating plastic containers, you are reducing a health risk for your family and 
helping the environment. 

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  1. I'm so bad for this. I make batches of soup on the weekends and put them, still hot, into individual plastic containers and then put them in the freezer. I really need to invest in some glassware but they all seem to have plastic lids.

  2. Hi!
    Great post!
    My local grocery store has an organic section. However, they sell things like bell peppers vaccume wrapped in plastic! I have pointed out that this is counter productive but nothing has changed. I don't buy them of course!

  3. Hi Judee,
    This is a very important post. Too many of us don't realize how toxic plastic can be. We are overwhelmed with plastic in all aspects our lives--it's everywhere. Thanks for enlightening us and suggesting better solutions! I am trying to reduce and avoid plastic by carrying my own totes, reusing glass jars, bottles and containers. Storing food in glass containers and jars.

  4. Very good information and article. Plastic has so many toxins in it and can cause many health problems as you have pointed out. I reuse glass jars and recycle over and over again. Thanks for sharing. I have shared on Google & Pinterest. Visiting from Four Seasons Blog Hop.

  5. Great post! I just listened to one of Chris Kresser's podcasts about the dangers of plastic; scary stuff for sure! Thanks for linking up at Real Food Fridays!

  6. Since I have already commenting I'll just say thanks for sharing your great info on Real Food Fridays Blog Hop!

  7. I've been slowly phasing out plastic from the kitchen. I make a plastic wrap alternative and use glass jars all over the place. Hello from Real Food Fridays.

  8. Hi Judee,
    Plastic is everywhere. Unfortunately, we are so used to the convenience of using it without realizing how harmful the toxins from plastics are. I have been replacing plastic bowls with glass, carrying shopping totes and reducing my usage of plastic as much as possible--from containers to plates, bowls and cups to utensils to bags and baggies--plastic and food don't mix! Thank you so much for sharing this important post on the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop!

  9. Very informative - plastic is everywhere - we have to do the best we can! I do appreicate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

  10. Hi Judee,
    It's hard to avoid plastic.But we must try to do so since chemicals from plastic can get into our foods.I remember ordering a vegetable miso soup from my favorite Chinese restaurant and they poured this steaming hot liquid into a plastic container. Visions of melting plastic and chemicals danced through my head. That was the end of that! Even in many health food stores and healthy salad bars plastic take out containers are still used. I carry my own recycled shopping bags but now I am going to start to carry my own metal containers with me for transporting take out. Some of my favorite vegan restaurants use paper containers. Of course, it is best to cook at home from scratch! Thank you so much for sharing this important information with us at the Plant-Based Potluck Party Blog Hop! I appreciate it!

  11. So many reasons why we should avoid plastic in our food prep and storage! Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday. blog hop!

  12. I am gradually reducing my plastic use but do still use too much for food storage - I tend to freeze food in old plastic ice cream tubs and then pop it out into plastic bags - that works for food saving but leaves me with the plastic issue. #WasteLssAednesday


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