Monday, May 17, 2010

Its the baby steps that count right?

As many of you know I had a Tupperware habit that I kicked a year ago. It was a really bad habit and my family almost had to have a intervention. But I promise i'm all better now. Well sorta....I still have some Tupperware but I swear I never heat them up in the microwave and only use them to put stuff in the freezer! Well thats not all the truth. I had plastic cooking utensils up until this week. I know i'm bad! I was trying to find some stainless steel ones that weren't a arm and a leg to buy. These things cost anywhere from $6.99-$14.99 each. To me it was just too expensive and I would replace them when I found them at a decent price. I recently went into Ross with a friend to find her a bathing suit. She was trying some on and I was wandering around the store and came across the kitchen area. Sweet victory I found a 5 piece set of stainless steel utensils for only $7.99. I also found a 3 piece bamboo spoon set for only $2.99. You may rest assure that all plastic utensils and wooden spoons are now in the goodwill pile.

So why is plastic dangerous? Many plastics start to break down as they age and when they are heated, scrubbed, or subjected to harsh detergents. Plastics are also slightly fat soluble, which means that they are more likely to contaminate fatty foods rather than fat-free foods. No plastic of any kind should be heated on the stove or in the conventional microwave.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a component of many common plastics. Its the main ingredient in polycarbonate plastic, which is commonly used to make baby bottles, reusable milk bottles, and reusable water bottles;it is also in the plastic resins that line food and beverage cans (which is why I don't use canned goods) in styrene (styrofoam), and in polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Bidphenol is a hormone mimic that upsets natural hormone levels and cause genetic damage and miscarriages in laboratory mice.

There has been at least one study that has shown that BPA can leach from plastic bottles in amounts that are harmful to laboratory mice. The plastic industry claims that their products are safe, but the studies have led some experts to recommend that consumers avoid buying polycarbonate or Nalgene water bottles, milk or juice in returnable polycarbonate bottles, and reusable water bottles. Just look for the BPA Free label.

And if that's not scary enough polycarbonate plastic was invented in 1953. Though researchers had reported in 1938 that BPA mimicked the hormone estrogen, no one seemed to have worried about the possible side effects of the chemical. Can you believe that? They had evidence and turned their head away from it. WTF?

So how do you avoid using plastic? Well its simple really. You just have to get rid of plastic as much as possible. And there is no need to freak out, even I have some plastic in my home. Its almost impossible to get rid of. But here are a few ways to avoid it.

1. Glass is the most chemically inert packaging material.  As much as possible, try to buy food, especially acidic or fatty foods such as milk, juice, tomato sauce, and condiments, in glass containers rather than in plastic-lined tin cans or plastic containers. Try to use glass food storage containers whenever possible.  Avoid buying oil in plastic containers as well.

2.  Aluminum foil is a safe, reusable food covering. Just don't put it in the microwave.

3.  Polypropylene and polyethylene are relatively safe, inert plastics that don't contain either chlorine or plasticizers.  If you are buying plastic food storage containers, look for containers laveled HDPE (high density polyethlene) or PP (polyprepylene).

3. Stainless steel can withstand high temperatures. Which is perfect for cooking utensils. It can be scrubbed or just thrown in the dishwasher.  Stainless steel is the least reactive metal and is the material of choice when it comes to cookware.  When buying cookware, look for "18/10" ( the number refers to the percentages of chromium and nickel in the alloy) with an aluminum core for good heat conductivity.  Its also perfect for cooking acidic foods and liquid foods.

As for me, I will try my best to eliminate all plastic from my home. But its a hard battle to fight. I have to pick and choose my battles sorta speak. Eventually I would love to get rid of all my plastic Tupperware storage containers and have glass ones instead. This will be very expensive switch but worth it in the long run.  Since I cannot just go replace them all (you have an extra $100 laying around?) I will just replace them one at a time. It's the baby steps that count right?

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