INTRODUCTION: BETTER FOOD STORAGE
Though the number of places that you’re exposed to chemical substances is vast, many of them are not within your direct control. There are three reasons to focus on your kitchen:
1) You have more control over your choices.
2) The amount of time you spend and the amount you consume from there.
3) As your food comes in direct contact with your internal organs, you’re the most vulnerable to chemical exposure from the things that you consume.
Together, these make the kitchen one of the most significant impacts on your health. As such, it’s especially important to focus on reducing your exposure to unhelpful and unhealthful compounds in your kitchen.
The way you cook, the cookware you use, and the way you make your morning cup of joe can impact the number of toxins you’re exposed to daily. Remember, what matters most are the things that you do daily or frequently.
Don’t expect that you’ll be able to completely eliminate chemicals in your kitchen all at once. Focus on the aspects in your kitchen and pantry that are part of your everyday routine. Once you’ve made some adjustments that you feel confident with, then you can move on to the next one.
BETTER FOOD STORAGE OPTIONS
The methods that we use to store food can make a significant impact on our potential exposure to chemicals in our kitchen. One of the major concerns with food storage is exposure to plastics. In most pantries, various forms of plastic are found everywhere. From the packaging that the food comes in at the store to the plastic containers and plastic wrap that you use to store leftovers.
Unfortunately, these plastics may leach chemicals into your food. And this may occur at higher levels when plastic is exposed to heat (think, putting hot soup in a plastic container or microwaving a frozen meal that comes in a plastic container).
Additionally, using aluminum foil to bake with or wrap our leftovers isn’t better either. Aluminum foil, especially when used to bake at higher temperatures, can leach aluminum into our food. Though our body eliminates aluminum rather efficiently, over-exposure to aluminum has the potential to impact our long-term brain and bone health.
So how can we combat this? Try switching to a variety of these safer alternatives:
GLASS AND STAINLESS STEEL
Most plastic containers that you might use to store leftover foods can be easily replaced with glass alternatives. Most glass containers do come with plastic lids, which is ok. But be sure to remove those if you’re microwaving leftovers.
And even better? Heat leftovers on the stove and in the oven. Glass containers are also oven-proof and are great for heating leftovers without the extra dishes! However, there are times when glass may not be the best choice. Luckily, there are better food storage options.
For portables and kid-friendly products, try looking for a plastic that notes it is BPA-free or stainless steel containers. For hot foods, thermoses made from stainless steel can be a great option for coffee, tea, and soup.
Silicone bags are a great alternative to plastic storage bags and can be used to store dry goods, chopped veggies, or the like. They can be easily hand washed and used again and again. As a bonus, they are also more environmentally friendly than plastic bags, which are often single-use and then thrown away.
BEESWAX FOOD WRAPS
Beeswax food wraps are becoming more popular and readily available plus a great alternative to plastic wrap and aluminum foil. These types of wraps are great for wrapping cut-up produce, cheese, or other foods as well as washable and reusable.
BETTER PANTRY STORAGE OPTIONS
Similar to how we store our perishable food, it’s also important to consider how we store our food in the pantry. Items like canned goods and dried legumes, nuts, and seeds are such nutrient-dense convenience foods. How you store them will impact their nutrition and your exposure to chemicals.
DRY GOOD STORAGE
Many dry goods like dry grains (rice, flours), legumes (beans, lentils), nuts, and seeds, come in plastic packaging. If available, try and purchase these products that are packaged in paper instead. However, if you purchase foods packaged in plastic, simply transfer them to a different container (like glass or silicone) when you get home.
Upcycle your glass pasta sauce, salsas, and jam jars by washing them and using them to store your dry goods in your pantry. Not only does this help reduce the amount of time your food comes in contact with plastic, but it’s environmentally friendly and reduces the amount of glass sent to the recycling plant or landfill.
CANNED GOOD STORAGE
Historically, a chemical called BPA (Bisphenol A), a substance that’s been used in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin since the 1960s has been used to create plastic bottles, and food storage containers. Unfortunately, it’s still used in the lining of some canned goods.
Though many companies have removed this chemical from their manufacturing process and labeled their containers as “BPA free”, some companies have introduced chemical analogs, or alternatives, to BPA, such as BPS and BPAF which have undergone very little testing or oversight, and will likely not be proven to be better alternatives.
When possible, various “canned” goods may now be available in glass, which is a safer option than canned. It’s always better to get in more vegetables, so if canned is what you have access to that’s a win versus skipping veggies, and if you can find BPA-free cans that’s a win!
Most of our world nowadays is created with hundreds and thousands of synthetic chemicals. Your wardrobe closet, accessories, furniture, cosmetics, medicines, and everyday items in your kitchen pantry, are most likely manufactured with at least one – if not many – synthetic chemicals.
And many of these synthetic chemicals and materials, like the ones that are used to create all varieties of plastics, have no doubt shaped our world. Convenience is key for many. But at what cost? Better food storage options may decrease your exposure to potentially inflammatory compounds that are found in plastic containers, plastic wraps, and nonstick cookware.
Is inflammation wreaking havoc in your life? Investing in nutrition counseling is a great way to get to the root cause of your problem and start you on the right path to total wellness. I’d love to work with you on your journey. You can check out my packages here.