Sunday, September 4, 2016

cans and bpa

It has become common knowledge that cans that our food comes stored in is layered with bisphenol A, and BPA is an endocrine disruptor.

There are a few things we can do reduce our consumption of foods that are more often than not contained in plastic-lined cans:

Tomatoes: There are several brands of tomatoes (diced, whole, paste, etc) that are jarred instead of canned. I go for these instead of buying tomatoes in cans. In fact, because of the acidic nature of tomatoes, they are prone to absorbing even more BPA than other foodstuffs. Jarred is definitely the way to go. If you don't wind up reusing the jars, then they can be recycled into other glass products indefinitely.   

Beans: the most obvious solution is to cook them from dried beans. Purchase the dried beans in the bulk section to avoid purchasing them in plastic bags and cook them yourself. There are a few brands that are packed in aseptic containers, but that is also lined in plastic and even the brands (such as 365) that claim to be BPA free, has more than likely just switched from BPA to BPS. 

These are the two big items I used to buy in cans; if you have another product that you usually buy canned, search out an alternative or leave a comment and I'll see if I can offer suggestions. 

To cook the beans is really the big deal, though. You could cook up a big batch once a week and freeze them in mason jars that are freezer-friendly. I used to freeze beans in water, but I have come to find that they freeze just fine without water and hence are easier and quicker to thaw.

To cook beans, I recommend you soak them overnight, but if you need to cook them fast, just use a pressure cooker. My favorite is the 7-in-1 Instant Pot [AMAZON]:

In fact, I love it so much that I have 2! The 7-in-1 is better because it is a rice cooker, slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, it sautes, and is a yogurt maker. There is a $50 coupon floating around, so if you are considering getting it, try to find the coupon.

HERE is a chart of cooking time for legumes, both for soaked and not soaked beans. 

So, get in the habit, write it on your calendar (for instance, cook black beans the first week, kidney beans the second week, chickpeas the third week (reserve the cooking water for aquafaba, and pinto beans the fourth week) and store the beans in the freezer for convenience. Make sure to use only freezer-friendly jars, otherwise your jars will break in the freezer.  

Thursday, September 1, 2016

suck your own straw

New statistic for you. Are you ready?

500 million plastic straws are used and thrown away in the US every day.

What happens to those plastic straws? That's right - either trashed in landfills (if lucky) or wind up in the oceans to eventually degrade into micro-plastics and become "food" for the animals. They are made with bisphenol A (or S) and pose a health risk to you, the animals and the planet.

Restaurants alone hand out the bulk of these plastic straws and many times to people who don't even want them.

Paper Straws

This single-use plastic item can be avoided so easily!

  • If you aren't into straws in the first place then make sure your server knows this when you order your drink. If you notice that the establishment bring water to the table automatically, ask the hostess to let the server or bus know your wishes when you are being sat.
  • Let your host/server know why you find this important. Restaurant personnel will honor your wishes more closely if they understand that you aren't just being fickle. It might even open a few eyes to the plastic epidemic. 
  • If you like using straws (I do) then bring your own and follow the above recommendations. 

There are now many choices of reusable straws: paper, glass and stainless steel.

Stainless Steel Straws

The paper straws are nice for photography, but not very practial to drink from because they degrade very quickly. In addition, they are still single use disposable.

Glass straws are great (I hear) [AMAZON], but in this house, where we are prone to lots of breakage, I opted for the stainless steel model [AMAZON].

This particular brand and package had an extra thick straw for smoothies, a few bent ones and an extra long one for those beverages in tall containers. I know that metal flavor is a concern to some people, and I can tell you that there is no aftertaste with stainless steel straws or bottles. 

Remember, there is no shame in bringing your own straws to use in restaurants and the amount of plastic you refuse by using them can indeed make an impact for all those involved.