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the cleanest canned foods are made by you

December 16, 2009

summer in a jar

The media has propelled estrogen-mimicking chemical bisphenol A (BPA) to the forefront of health news. It’s ubiquitous, and it’s likely in your body.

The chemical, developed as an estrogen replacement, is commonly used to harden plastics such, most commonly polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It’s been linked to various cancers, diabetes, heart disease and digestive problems. The polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins are often used in plastic helmets and goggles, computers, kitchen appliances, medical devices, adult toys, and the packaging for some foods and drinks—including soda cans, water bottles and baby bottles. This month Consumer Reports and the watchdogs at the Milwaukee, Wisc., Journal Sentinel found BPA leaching into commercially canned foods (it’s in the lining).

And last week Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, told the Journal Sentinel that consumers should be concerned. Here’s a roundup that many products containing BPA, along with links to safer alternatives.

To learn more about BPA, read “Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry” by Elizabeth Grossman.

So what’s a health-conscious person to do? Eat more fresh food, of course. Or preserve your own in good old-fashioned glass jar. Here are some books that will teach you to safely and easily preserve the summer’s bounty from your garden, farmer’s market or local store.

Stocking Up, 3rd Edition, by Carol Hupping is one of the most recommended books on safe canning and includes great recipes.
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, by Sandor Katz focuses on fermentation as a preservation method.
Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving, the US Department of Agriculture’s classic.

Canning is fun for the whole family, and the results can make thoughtful, thrifty holiday and hostess gifts. It’s also clearly the healthiest choice.

NB: A version of this story also appears on WellWire.com.

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