Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Plastic confuses my food issues

So I was raised by relatively "Earth Mother" type parents. We had a huge garden every summer, we ate mostly home cooked meals (from my memory at least), we camped in tents, we recycled everything possible... overall, I think my parents passed on a healthy love for all types foods: meats, dairy, nuts and all types of produce - fruit and veg alike. Kudos to them for what is now considered amazing.

I'm a mom of two, gently passing on these same loves for all foods healthy and delish. Now scientists have realized that there are troubles involved in our current reliance on all things plastic. All sorts of hormone-disrupting, indigestible chemical compounds have been found leached into all types of foods.

I'm one who uses general common sense when purchasing food. I seek out organic fresh fruits and vegetables, since they provide the safest, and most potent nutritional addition to my family's diet. I buy processed grain products that are free of trans fats (found whenever partially or fully hydrogenated fats are used). I seek out dairy products that are either organic or sourced from dairy cows that are not treated with the recombinant growth hormone, to at least avoid the effects of added hormones. I have to stick to a modest budget, but feel that these measures are important for the lifelong health and well-being of each of us.

That said, I'm feeling like I'm on the edge of an abyss of obsessive worry. If you look at almost everything found at the grocery store, each thing is packaged in plastic. Studies done on cheeses wrapped in plastic found varying but noticeable amounts of plasticizer DEHA [di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate]. I'm not sure what foods your kids love to eat, or what you love too, but cheese is one of our family favorites. While I seek out safer food choices, I wonder how much the plastics wrapping them are actually hurting our bodies.

Yikes. Way back in 1987, researchers in the UK found this problem and it was essentially eliminated by changing the plastic make up, removing the DEHA from the content. In 1998, researchers here in the US shared this info with our government, and it's only been minimally regulated.

My husband eats many frozen lunch foods, which are heated in plastic trays in the microwave. *Concerning. Milk comes in plastic jugs. *Concerning. Cereal is first packaged in plastic bags, then protected in cardboard. *Concerning. Fruit snacks, candy, chips, frozen vegetables and fruits, ... pretty much anything available to heat and eat is wrapped in plastic, even with the opportunity to then cook/ steam the foods in the plastic packaging it came in.

I've heard many say that they are just thankful they have food, and leave it at that. But then, I think of all the people who trusted the FDA to protect them from the most obvious and harmful items that were never intended to be a part of foods like peanut butter, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, etc. and who suffered severe health problems and even death. Okay, so maybe plastics leaching chemical compounds into otherwise safe and healthy foods won't show serious harms to us in any immediate way. But then, I think of all the autism, attention deficit disorders and other neurological abnormalities that seem to be spreading like wild fire, and I wonder if I shouldn't just push for glass, paper and aluminum packaging instead.

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