Thursday, February 17, 2011

Plastic Domination

If you are like me, you have an entire cabinet in your kitchen dedicated to plastic food containers. Most without lids and some starting to cloud from overuse. I had every size and shape according to the types of things I was going to store in them. And on occasion (well, more than I'd like to admit) I would heat the leftovers in the microwave while still in these containers. That was until I had kids. For some reason we don't care what poisons we put into our bodies until we have our beautiful children and then all bets are off. We suddenly become very aware of all the dangers around us and want to protect our offspring from any remote chance of cancer or disease that could possibly plague them 40 years down the road. The problem is that we don't really know how long it will take for plastics to cause disease in our bodies. Not enough studies have been done. But one thing is for sure: some of these plastics ARE toxic.

So if you want to be sure that you are not harming your body or your family's, throw out all your plastic containers and start using glass or ceramic. Its great because they are indefinitely reusable which is good for your pocketbook and good for the environment too. Also, never put any plastic in the microwave, EVER. The heat can cause leaching into the food that you are heating and will contaminate it. I don't know the ultimate affects on the body, but it just sounds so unnatural to me that common sense tells me to avoid it. Last, plastic is notorious for getting microscopic scratches and nicks during use and washing. These crevices are the perfect place for bacteria to hide and grow. Over time, even if you think your plastic cups are clean, they are most likely harboring nasty bacteria that could make you sick. Throw them all out and buy new (if you must use plastic) or buy glass.

Now, to make sense of all those numbers on the bottom of your plastic containers. I took the following from a friend and I think it defines each type of plastic nicely as well as gives 12 tips on safer plastic use. Its a little long, but worth the read. Throw out all the numbers they deem as toxic. The companies that produce this stuff won't tell you and apparently neither will our government. No one is looking out for us so we need to be our own health advocates.

"Although the apron-wearing, martini-bearing, housewife-in-heels with her rainbow of Tupperware may be a thing of the past, the quest for a well-organized kitchen persists. To see tidy stacks of food-filled plastic containers in the fridge and freezer is comforting in a primal kind of way. But then comes the procession of warnings about storing and cooking food in plastic, and leaching chemicals, and hormone disruption, and ACK!"

"So here it is: The lowdown on plastic food containers. Flip over your favorite plastic food storage container and check the recycling code number. If you spy a number 3 or 7, well, those containers should probably go to the craft room or garage to store buttons or screws rather than food. If there is no number listed, contact the manufacturer. (And to be fair to Tupperware, they do manufacture products that are not made of these plastic types.) Number 3 is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), also known as vinyl. PVC has garnered the moniker "the toxic plastic" for the presence of DEHA -- one of several plasticizers (softeners) used in its production. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, long-term DEHA exposure has the potential to cause: Reduced body weight and bone mass, damage to liver and testes, and cancer. The manufacture and incineration of PVC also releases carcinogenic dioxins into the environment and food chain. Although PVC is not the most common plastic used for food storage containers, some are made from it and it is often used in plastic wrap to improve performance. Recycling code number 7 includes several plastic types (it's the catchall "other" category -- see tips below) but it is predominantly polycarbonate. The problem with polycarbonate is that it harbors bisphenol A (BPA). Studies have shown that BPA damages the reproductive systems of lab animals by interfering with the effects of reproductive hormones and has other serious health effects. BPA's capacity to cause these stems from its ability to mimic the human hormone estrogen -- it has been linked to prostate and mammary gland cancers, early onset of puberty and reproductive-organ defects."

"As might be expected, given the strength of the plastic industry, there is controversy. Although there have been more than 100 studies showing BPA to be a concern, the plastics industry says it is harmless. The FDA admits that "substances used to make plastics can leach into food," but they maintain that the levels are safe. Safe? Yes, leaching petroleum by-products and toxic chemicals in your food are safe -- don't worry! Now why doesn't that sound right? If, like me, you find the FDA a rather lackadaisical regulator, why not follow these tips for safer plastic use? (Don't forget, there is also that little environmental issue with plastic to keep in mind.) And while some may want to skip the plastic-food relationship altogether, it is a hard habit to break. Many of these tips don't exclude the use of plastic, but rather offer the safest options."

12 tips for safer plastic use:
1. Know your plastics. Plastic items are marked with a resin identification coding system (the number surrounded by arrows), which stand for: 1 polyethyelene terephthalate (PETE) 2 high-density polyethylene (HDPE) 3 vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 4 low-density polyethylene (LDPE) 5 polypropylene (PP) 6 polystyrene (PS) 7 other (includes polycarbonate, acrylic, polylactic acid, fiberglass)

2. When you need to use plastic, these are the safer choices to use with food: 1, 2, 4, and 5.

3. Learn to recognize, and then avoid, polycarbonate (number 7) for food usage. Polycarbonate plastics are hard and clear. Common items made from this BPA-containing plastic are food storage containers, baby bottles, water bottles, bowls, and tableware (and the lining inside food and drink cans, by the way).

4. If you don't get rid of all of your plastic, at least retire old plastic containers, especially those that are heavily worn or scratched. Older plastics tend to leach increasing amounts of toxins as they age. Use them to organize and store non-food items.

5. Be careful of serving and storing hot foods or foods made with fats or oils in plastic containers. These foods more readily facilitate the transfer of plastic toxins.

6. Never microwave foods in plastic containers. "Microwave safe" means the container won't melt or warp, but doesn't mean it won't leach. Heating plastics increases the potential for leaching of chemicals into your food.

7. Never microwave food in yogurt tubs, take-out bowls, or other one-time use containers. These containers can warp or melt, possibly causing harmful chemicals to migrate into the food.

8. Avoid using plastic sandwich bags or plastic wrap products.

9. If you must use plastic wrap, make sure it is a brand free of both BPA and PVC. Ziploc, Glad, and Saran are promoted as being free of BPA and PVC -- but remember that these plastics live for 1,000 years in our landfills.

10. Avoid deli-wrap and similar generic packaging since you can't ascertain the plastic type used. When sliced cheese and meats are sold in plastic bags and/or plastic deli-wrap, transfer them as soon as possible to unbleached wax paper or a safe container.

11. Remember that if you are pregnant or nursing, BPA chemicals are passed through your bloodstream directly to your baby.

12. Instead of mixing petroleum (i.e., plastic) with your food, use inert alternatives such as glass and ceramic rather than plastic food storage containers. Reusing jars is a win-win; and you can often find glass storage containers at flea markets and thrift shops. Or simply store food in bowls covered with a plate. Try alternatives like these: Pyrex Food Storage containers Crate and Barrel's Refrigerator Dish Related

I hope this was helpful, if you need any more info, feel free to shoot me an email.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Diet of a Picky Kid

I have come to the conclusion that my picky toddlers will eventually eat healthy.....eventually. I try my best to get nutrient dense food inside of their bodies but they really make it hard for me. I am going to go out on a limb and disclose their full diets right here - right now - on my Blog. Some of the food that I am going to list may not seem healthy. I battle this with myself constantly. When they were little and without opinions, I could try to sneak in the healthiest foods I could find. Organic baby food, homemade organic baby food - those were easy. But once we moved on, options were exhausted and food limits were set - by my kids. One of my twins won't TOUCH a fruit or veggie. I am not making this up, he freaks if its even on his plate. I continue to offer them but also puree them and pass it off as "apple sauce". He buys it most of the time. I have come to realize that my past militant ways about food were not going to fly with my picky eaters. I was going to have to make concessions and get rid of the guilt. I write this disclosure so that you understand I am not some amazing supermom that manages to get her kids to eat grass fed beef stew with organic veggies picked straight from my garden. Although I have tried this! But in reality, I am a mom who knows what a healthy diet looks like and strives to get there but in the end moderation is key. No one is perfect and frankly its expensive to eat the way we should. So we do our very best. That is all anyone can ask for.

Breakfast at picky eater central: (one of my kids has a mild egg allergy so no eggs here)
Sweet potato pancakes with farm butter and maple syrup
Eggo mini waffles with farm butter and maple syrup
Toast with farm butter and farm jam
Oatmeal with banana/strawberry puree and wheat germ
Maple and brown sugar Oatmeal (organic)
Yo-baby yogurts
Orange Juice
Fruit - bananas, apples, strawberries

Lunch in starvation nation:
Veggie burgers with raw milk cheese
Amy's margarita or spinach pizza's (or homemade pizza)
Amy's organic Mac n cheese
Organic no additive hot dogs
Almond butter and farm strawberry jam on whole wheat
Grilled raw milk cheese on whole wheat (if I can sneak tomatoes in there I will)
Grass finished hamburgers
Apple sauce - all kinds
Bolthouse farms organic juice OR
V-8 Splash juice/veggie blends (yes I have decided that they need to get veggies some way)

Dinner at the "No Way!" Diner:
Applegate farm chicken nuggets
Free range chicken parm
Alexia mozzarella sticks (organic)
Pasta and grass finished meatballs
Steamed carrots
Steamed Broccoli
Re fried beans and rice
Ian's letter potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Raw milk

Pirates Booty
Veggie straws
Whole grain goldfish (does it even matter?)
Earth's Best Letter Cookies - Vanilla (their favorite)
Cut up Muenster cheese
Amy's fruit bunnies

We do not keep candy in the house. Only during potty training did I use M&Ms as a reward. Other than that, we make homemade cookies, muffins and cake. My kids take 2 bites and are done. Even ice cream is an occasional treat. They usually reject it. I rarely offer it at home so they never really got the taste for it. However, I don't forbid them from trying it. I believe that if its off limits, it will become a delicacy for them when they can freely obtain it. By forbidding something, you are guaranteeing that it will become a coveted item. Instead, I let them try as a treat but I dont' keep it in the house. This way they are not deprived of the sugary goodness but its kept to a bare minimum.

I think that's it, at least its all I can recall for the moment. Its not a perfect diet and I do give them vitamins. They also get Cod Liver Oil and a pro biotic as I have mentioned in prior posts. From time to time I sneak in some NingXia Red to their juice. Its an amazing supplement and detox.

My plan for the future is to get my non fruit and veggie eater to drink more smoothies. This way I can add all the fruit and veggies I want and he won't even know what hit him.

I feel better getting this all out there. If I were better in the kitchen, I could eliminate ALL the processed foods on this list. Unfortunately, its hard work. Like I said before, I do my best. I try to make it as balanced as possible and as nutritious as possible for the entire family. At least my husband will eat some of the other healthy options I put before him. I hope that one day my picky eaters will decide to do so as well.....