Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Truth About Plastics

We shouldn't discuss the topic of toxins in our food without addressing a big culprit in the equation, and that is the packaging and storage for our food.  Here are some facts about the plastics in the U.S.

* The plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing industry in the U.S. - get out!!
* The U.S. plastic industry creates more than $341 billion in annual shipments - big money!
* There are over 16,632 plastic facilities in the U.S. - what?!?!?

Plastic has become so prevalent in every day life, we don't even notice it any more. However, as the increase in plastic usage goes up, our health simultaneously has declined (not to mention the whole environmental issue with this compound that does not break down!!) Is there a link?  Could this be a small chip in the disharmony within our bodies?  Read on.

Convenience is synonymous with plastic.  Think about how much food comes in plastic packaging!  Just open your refrigerator or cupboards and see for yourself.  Some of you may have heard reports about the affects of certain compounds in plastic that "aren't good for you."  But we had the luxury of listening to Dixie, a loyal B2Ber and (lucky for us) one who worked in the food and beverage container industry for 10 years as an Environmental Engineer. She shared with us more insight.  Dixie openly offered some suggestions regarding the use of plastics ~ and the reality of the dangers they cause to our health.  Here is what we learned last week:

1. ALL plastics breakdown and release chemicals, especially when heated or stressed (by microwaves, dishwashers, rubbing, denting, everyday use, etc.)

2. The chemicals released include BPA and pthalates and they mimic our hormones, specifically estrogen in women and testosterone in men, and upset how the hormones behave in our bodies. (YIKES!)

3. "BPA Free" does not mean that the plastic is free of chemicals that affect hormonal activity. Some are even more dangerous than BPA. (EEK! Why do we not hear of this?)

4. Generally...the higher the recycling number on the bottom of the plastic, the harder the plastic and the harder it is to leach chemicals. However, the higher the number, the more toxic the chemicals are that were used in that product.  (Hmmmm. Catch 22.)

5. Aluminum and steel containers are coated with an epoxy resin that contains BPA and can chip easily if metal is dented and degrade over time. (So.....gotta use them wisely)

When we say "plastic" we are talking about:
Saran Wrap, water bottles, plastic baggies, Ziploc Take-a-Longs, plastic dishes, storage containers, "steamer" veggies in a bag, quick & easy microwave meals, baby bottles and nipples, and a plethora of other products. You really have to watch for it. Heck, I bought pre-cooked organic brown rice the other day and the directions told me to make a cut in the plastic covering and nuke it in the plastic bowl for two minutes.  Grrr.  Good thing I had just heard I transferred it to glass first.

Do not to heat any food in plastic in the microwave.

Always allow food to completely cool before using plastic storage.

Never put plastics in the dishwasher.  Wash them in luke warm water with very little soap.

Glass is the best option for food storage, especially liquids and fatty foods.  

For your daily water bottle, choose glass. Here is a link for one brand:

Be extra careful with babies and children; think bottles, pacifiers, plastic toys, etc.  Their little bodies are still developing.

Do not buy cans that are dented - it breaks the seal inside and allows chemicals to leak into the food. And do not store food in an opened can in the fridge....transfer to glass.

Replace any BPA-Free products regularly - six months to a year - as they have broken down at that point.

Once again, we fall back to time and the need to save it in our hectic lives.  Glass = more washing.  Glass = less convenient.  Glass = more $. But it also = less waste, less exposure to possible health problems, and more thought about our meals and environment.

We can't avoid plastic all of the time, so adopt the 80/20 rule.....80% "plastic free"....20% "because I had to." It's all good stuff, Folks!  Just more tools for your journey toward Optimal Health!

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