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Guest Post: Kitchen Awareness - Every Little Thing

Guest Post: Kitchen Awareness

Good morning! Because I went out last night and had one too many Hopslams, and because today is CARDINALS OPENING DAY and I’m going to the game later, I’m leaving you with a guest post from my good friend Lauren. She knows her stuff when it comes to toxicology and I asked her for some kitchen information to share with my readers. If you have any questions or comments, she and I both would love to hear from you!

Happy Thursday (and Opening Day)!

Hey everyone! I’m Lauren and I blog over at laurenalysse.blogspot.com. I’m an Environmental Health student at the University of Michigan studying toxicology, so I know a bit about those icky chemicals in everyday consumer products.
Stacy asked me to write a guest blog about kitchen product awareness, and I thought it was a great idea! We all try and eat as healthy as possible, but sometimes aren’t aware of other things we’re exposing ourselves too. So here are some tips for being aware of our kitchen products.
Storage Containers
The best container to store food in is glass, hands down.
But I’ll be first to admit that I don’t use glass containers for everything. I have a 21-piece Pyrex set, but a lot of my leftovers end up in plastic. In fact, my bananas in the freezer are in a plastic container right now.
The problem with plastic is that you need to be aware of what kind of plastic you are using. Most plastic containers will have a handy number encased in a recycling triangle. These numbers indicate the type of plastic used.
Numbers to avoid: 3, 7 (sometimes)
The best number to use for food storage is 5 – this is made of polypropelene, the “safest” plastic. Polypropelene leaches the least, is dishwasher safe, and is generally accepted as the plastic of choice if you’re going to use plastic.
I also try not to put plastic in the microwave. The microwave environment is probably not the best for retaining plastic’s integrity, so in my mind I’d rather just transfer to a glass plate or bowl for re-heating.
Plastic containers also retain odors more easily. So that chocolate you had in the plastic container before, might make your carrots taste a little bit off the next time you use it.
An easy way to accumulate glass containers is to simply wash the glass jars you buy food in and reuse them! I have a pretty large stash of salsa, pickle, and olive jars that are perfect for storing leftovers.
Water Bottles
I think most health-conscious individuals are pretty aware of water bottle conventions, but I think they’re worth going over again.
AVOID:
Ÿ      Bottles containing BPA, which has been identified as an endocrine disruptor. This includes older hard plastic bottles. Within the past few years, Nalgene and Camelbak have replaced the plastic in their bottles with one that does not include BPA. So woo hoo for that!
Ÿ      Reusing one-time use water bottles. So you think you’re being environmentally friendly by reusing that disposable water bottle you bought when you forgot your reusable one at home? BAD IDEA. When those bottles get reused they’re more likely to leach icky plastic chemicals which may have just as many health effects as BPA.
Canned Goods
Another place you can find BPA is in canned goods. This includes canned soups, veggies, beans, as well as canned beverages! While it can be difficult to remove these pantry staples from your diet, I think it’s important to at least be aware of the presence of BPA in these items.

If you want to be extra safe, there are canned goods that use BPA free cans. Stacy’s favorite, Eden Organics, is one company that uses BPA-free cans for their products (except tomatoes – due to their high acidity, it’s very difficult to find a BPA-free alternative can liner). Trader Joe’s, my grocery store of choice, has BPA-free cans for their beans, but not their soups.
Non-stick Pans
Non-stick pans are super convenient, but there is some question about the safety of Teflon and other non-stick coating on pots and pans. There are ways to reduce the risk of this, including not heating pots and pans on high, not using metal utensils, and disposing of scratched or flaking coating.
For me, it’s just easier to use pots and pans without non-stick coating. I have a simple to use Misto sprayer that works great for lightly coating anything that I need to cook in. I picked mine up at Cost Plus World Market, but clearly you can get them just about anywhere.
Why does it matter?
Surprisingly, the health effects attributed to some of these chemicals in consumer products could counteract some of the healthy steps we take to improve our health. BPA in particular has been linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease in animal studies. While a lot of products we encounter each day have the ability to affect our health negatively, when you’re already taking steps to be healthy, I think it’s important to consider what other choices you can make to improve your health that aren’t directly related to food.
Any additional questions? Feel free to email me at laurenalysseblog at gmail dot com or leave a comment!

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