Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Food Safety

As if we needed one more thing to worry about, the other day I was reading an article about BPA.

BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a hormone-like chemical. It has been linked to numerous (typical American) illnesses including cancer, Type II diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. As this article states BPA is so ubiquitous that more than 90% of Americans have traces of it in their urine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So, where do we get it?

BPA is used to harden plastics and the most common place we come in contact with it is in the foods we get from cans.

The news certainly made me look at those cans of tomato sauce differently. For the most part, we've stopped buying canned foods from the grocery store. Store-bought canned tomatoes were the last hold-out for me. I can my own tomatoes every year, but never enough ... there's never enough ... and this time of year, after the home-canned tomatoes are used up and the new crop has not, yet, gone in, I've been known to buy a few cans to tide us over.

After reading that article, I decided I needed a different solution, and I found one. Instead of buying tomato sauce in BPA lined cans, I buy locally grown hothouse tomatoes, chop them up and cook them down, and then put them in canning jars and store them in the freezer until I need them. The whole process takes about an hour, including cooking time, which does not require my undivided attention. So, the time I spend actually doing the work is about twenty minutes, for about two quarts of sauce (about 5 lbs of tomatoes).

The best solution is to grow more and can more during the summer, and that's what I'll try to do this year, but until then, this is my happy-medium solution. The other choice is to give up tomato sauce until the summer, and believe me, I've considered it.

The more I learn the harder it gets to buy food at the grocery store.


  1. Tell me about it! The worst of it is, I've heard questions raised about the inner lining of canning jar lids too. Apparently, they may contain BPA as well. And - also apparently - acidic foods contribute to BPA leaching more than others. So what are our options? I suppose there's always smoking/drying them. I've heard the Excalibur dehydrator specifically includes a BPA-free plastic for it's drying trays. Delightful as they are though, they're not tomato sauce.

  2. Hi! Wendy!

    I am a suburban blogger, too! I'm enjoying your work. Clever. Thoughtful.

  3. I think if we all knew what was really in our food, noone would be able to buy commercially processed foods ever again.

  4. I was reading about the history of Lent and blah blah the other spring-time religous rites that involve fasting and they all stemmed back to the the fact that around this time of year food stores run short. So maybe the answer is you convert to Catholicism and give up tomatoes for Lent ;-)

  5. Kate - I haven't tried them, yet, but these canning lids are reportedly BPA-free and reusable :).

    Hi, Denise - Welcome :). I hope you find some useful nuggets. Thank you for the kind words.

    Barefoot - I think you're absolutely correct, which is why most people would rather not know.

    Bezzie ... um, that's probably not going to happen - the converting, I mean - not the giving up tomatoes ;). I may give them up in the future during the spring, but not for religious reasons ;).