In my house growing up, Thanksgiving centered on football and a huge family meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pie, and of course, the cranberry sauce that retained the shape of the can. It’s easy to forget that historically, Thanksgiving began as a tradition of celebrating the harvest of the year. It’s a time to recognize the contributions and sacrifices the Native Americans made in in feeding the Pilgrims through the winter and teaching them how to grow their food.
As busy moms, it’s tempting these days to rely on the convenience of canned food to help us with preparing our Thanksgiving meal. However, the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is in a variety of food packaging, including the epoxy resin lining in 92% of the canned food on the store shelves. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, a class of synthetic chemicals that mimic or disturb hormones, including testosterone and thyroid hormones. BPA is linked to cancer, early puberty, reproductive problems and a number of other serious diseases and health problems.
Last year, our friends at the Breast Cancer Fund conducted a study of BPA in popular Thanksgiving canned foods and found that for half of the products tested, a single 120-gram serving of the food contained enough BPA to show adverse health impacts in lab studies. The BPA in cans leaches onto the food contained inside. Therefore, when we use canned pumpkin, green beans, corn and other canned foods in our Thanksgiving recipes, there is a strong chance we are serving BPA with our meal too.
As an alternative, choose fresh or frozen produce first, and buy processed food in brick cartons, pouches or glass. This goes for beverages too- glass bottles are the ideal alternative for soda, beer and other canned drinks when available. The Silent Spring Institute and the Breast Cancer Fund found in a 2011 study that families eating a fresh food diet for three days reduced their BPA levels by an average of 60%, and the number went up to 75% for those with the greatest exposure levels. We too can drastically reduce our BPA exposure by avoiding BPA-laden food packaging. Check out this great recipe guide for a No-Can Thanksgiving. Please share your favorite BPA-free recipes with us in the comments.
Have a happy and BPA-free Thanksgiving!
Stacy Weinberg Diève is a member of the MOMS Advocating Sustainability steering committee. Stacy is an international law attorney, with comprehensive experience on environmental matters. She is also the co-founder of Rooted Health, an herbalism and environmental health consulting practice founded on the principal that our health and wellness is interconnected with our diet, lifestyle, product choices, food sources and the environment (www.rootedhealth.com).