18 February 2012

Enough already, im taking action

based on new information, i made today a take-action-for-health day. 

we dont really drink apple juice around here, so that "arsenic in apple juice" stuff never really mattered to me. a few weeks ago i had found an article about arsenic in rice milk. i was startled but from what i read i wasnt feeling pressure to change things up immensely, since we are kinda painted into a small corner already with Xs food sensitivities. 
excerpts from arsenic in rice milk article:
- "research examined 60 samples of rice drinks and found low levels of arsenic in all of them"
- "as a precaution, toddlers and young children between 1 and 4.5 years old should not have rice drinks as a replacement for cows’ milk, breast milk, or infant formula. this is because they will then drink a relatively large amount of it, and their intake of arsenic will be greater than that of older children and adults relative to their bodyweight."
well today, i saw more about arsenic and rice (brown rice syrup as sweetener this time, but still rice). the bulk of the article had to do with infant formula, so it didnt pertain to me, but it still continued to send the message that rice is a natural sponge for arsenic and i should really think about modifying our intake.
“consider the frequency of your consumption. if you eat [products with brown rice syrup] all the time, you might want to cut back, but having a product with brown rice syrup occasionally probably won’t cause any harm.”
on a whim, after reading this stuff i typed in "arsenic" and "iron levels" into google. lo and behold, iron is used to treat arsenic-laden drinking water. iron apparently binds to arsenic and takes it out of the system. mmm, interesting. maybe this is related to Xs low iron levels in her blood? i went to pubmed to look for some evidence of iron and arsenic relating to each other like that biochemically (ie in a living system) and i was able to find a few animal (rat and pig) studies suggesting that, yes, that does happen. alright, i need to take action...

arsenic action item: finish off whatever products in the house have rice ingredients (rice flour, rice sweetener, etc) and our rice milk cartons and seek out products and alternative milks that dont have these things. we will not be throwing out anything, nor will we stop having wild rice with our meals on occasion. im not going to go crazy here, just start making more thoughtful decisions. i bought oat dream and hemp milk today to see what we think. ive had both before (oat dream was fine, hemp milk made me cringe, but this time i got the vanilla flavor, so hopefully it will be palatable for X), but i wasnt interested in the non-enriched coconut milk that they offer at our grocery store. its too fatty and non-nutritious to really be worth it.

and, so, while i was already changing up our food products and thought processes, i thought back to BPA. i looked up an article i had saved and decided to get that issue back up on my brain. BPA concerns have been rampant for a couple years now and i just didnt know how much i was going to stress about it, aside from doing the easy thing and avoid plastics when i can.

excerpts from the BPA article:
- "evidence that eliminating canned foods and plastic food packaging from your diet can dramatically reduce the concentrations of bisphenol A (BPA) and DEHP metabolites in your urine"
- "over a 3 day period, the families ate food that was prepared and stored with minimal canned foods or plastic food packaging...study results showed that while the families were eating the 'fresh food' diet, their BPA levels dropped on average by more than 60%."
soooooo, this was a pretty compelling push to add this to my list of action items. we dont eat that many canned or plastic packaged foods these days, but we do still eat them. mainly these are canned beans and chickpeas, squash purees, and tomato things. ive already been starting to move away from things in cans (buying dried chickpeas and soaking and cooking them as needed. thinking about what it would take to do our squash purees for X another way), but now i need to actually make a strong move.

BPA action items: buy more dried beans in bags (the ones we use most frequently). find good ways to prepare them. this may mean finally buying a slow cooker. also, this will require more fine-tuned weekly dinner planning, but we already meal plan on a basic level so that shouldnt be hard.

as for purees, X likes sweet potato, butternut squash and pumpkin purees from an organic company ive found here. these are extremely convenient since its not really easy to find fresh or frozen squash (and sweet potato) chunks around here. of course i could grab sweet potatoes and possibly (occasionally) butternut squash from the grocery store and start entirely from scratch and somehow make a HUGE batch in the tiny arsenal of pots i dont have here in halifax, but that is not likely to be a sustainable practice for me. im going to hit our health food store soon and look in their frozen food section to see what squashes they might have so that i could just steam a bag and blender it up every so often and freeze the end-product in some (soon to be purchased) glass containers. 

as for the tomato-in-cans issue, i think we will have to just buy fresh tomatoes, sharpen our lame knife and factor in a bit more time for tomato-based recipes.


Lily G said...

I didn't know about BPA in cans and plastic packaging. Thanks for the link to the article. We will have to make a plan of slow action, too!

Sarah said...

I believe Muir Glen packages their tomatoes in a BPA free can. Other than that, I've just been buying frozen veggies and dried beans. We ended up with a TON of butternut squash last year from our CSA and it was pretty easy to freeze in cube form. That way you can only puree what you need and all your glass storage containers aren't just sitting your freezer (cuz those babies aren't cheap!)

Trav said...

gah. add two more things to the "worry about this" list... i guess that means we'll have to fire up our slow cooker, too... (tangentially, "gah" is becoming my new expression of late: this really means that i am routinely expressing "overload" (gah = i am incapable of a real word)).

amw said...

thanks for the reminder that i should look up which companies have BPA-free cans sarah. i found some frozen and refrigerated sweet potatoes and butternut squash at our grocery store recently (now that im actually looking), so i think i should be able to just grab a small pack when i intend to steam/blend some up and not overload our tony freezer.

Mary Ann said...

Don't Wikipedia it, unless you want to be totally freaked out. Dave said he'd heard there is a link between BPA and diabetes (his blood sugar's okay, but with his weight, it's always a concern). Nice. Now we'll be on the lookout, too.

billiam said...

Eden (based in Ann Arbor!) also uses BPA-free cans.

billiam said...

Eden (based in Ann Arbor!) also uses BPA-free cans.

Cathy said...

Alyce - maybe a dumb question, what kind of bags do you use to put the dried chickpeas in? Not plastic, I'm assuming? Thanks for summarizing all this info! :)

amw said...

hey cathy. i wrote the dried bean part a little vaguely. i guess thats because i havent fully figured out a real solution. we buy the beans in the plastic bags from the grocery store. then it would be great to store them in canisters, but we dont have any yet (i think we will wait for a sale somewhere). then when we cook them weve been putting them into the fridge in old yogurt containers (eeps!). my husband eats a ton of yogurt and i cant bear to throw that much plastic away. we do need more glass containers around here, again, i think i need to look for a sale. i wish we didnt have all of our nice stuff in storage in MI. makes wanting to buy more kitchen stuff here a bit hard to swallow.