Detoxing Your Kitchen
by Kiki Athanas
March 14, 2017
I don't know about you, but I'm totally happy believing that by eating only healthy, home-made (superfood & superherb involved) meals, that I'm ALL CLEAR for toxins. Yup, #LivingInIgnorance is sometimes fun.
Then I reached out to Emma Rohmann from Green At Home for my much needed reality check. Here's what she said...
You’re eating healthy foods (most of the time). Maybe you eat organic when you can. You read ingredients and nutritional information before deciding on a purchase. But when it comes to what your food comes in, you may not have a clue about what’s leaching into your food. And that isn’t your fault. The chemicals we introduce into our kitchen aren’t typically on labels, but are shown to be concerning.
Let’s take a look at what’s in your kitchen and how you can choose healthier products.
Toxics In Your Kitchen
Non-stick cookware is convenient, but the Canadian Cancer Society and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warns about TFE, which is used to make coatings like Teflon™. TFE is a “probable cause of cancer” and may be released into your food from non-stick cookware at high heat.
You likely know about Bisphenol A (BPA) thanks to the publicity it received a few years ago with respect to plastic water and baby bottles. Since then, BPA has been removed from many products, but BPA-free products often contain BPS instead. Both BPA and BPS demonstrate hormone disruption properties, and to complicate matters further, a 2016 study found BPA in teething toys and soothers labelled BPA-free (which makes me wonder about other BPA-free products).
In addition, soft plastics often contain phthalates, a collection of chemicals that are suspected carcinogens and hormone disruptors.
Most food cans are lined with a BPA coating, which can leach into the foods being stored. BPA-free cans are sometimes labelled, but may contain BPS instead. Some products tested contained PVC, which is also concerning as it is made with vinyl chloride (a carcinogen) and often contains phthalates.
For non-toxic cookware, opt for cast iron, stainless steel, or ceramic enamel instead of Teflon™. These each have varying degrees of non-stick but are excellent alternatives depending on your cooking needs. My top choice is cast iron – treat them right, and you’ll have those pans for life.
Plastic-Free Food Storage
Whether you choose to cull your kitchen entirely of plastic or take baby steps as your plastic containers wear out, avoid heating any foods in plastic containers (even those that say they’re BPA free).
Start saving jars for a free way to build up plastic-free food storage. You can also invest in glass and stainless steel containers that stack for easier storage. Finally, replace plastic wrap with an amazing (and Canadian) beeswax-based product called Abeego to reduce exposure to phthalates (and reduce waste!).
Reducing canned food entirely rather than simply looking for “BPA Free” is your best bet reduce exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals. Unfortunately, the BPA free alternatives are not well disclosed or may be no better than the BPA you’re trying to avoid.
Tomato-based products are more difficult to find canned without BPA as they are too acidic for the more natural alternatives, so glass is the way to go. If you eat canned beans regularly, consider switching to dried (it takes time, but you’ll save a tonne of money too).
It can seem daunting to tackle a kitchen detox, but when you approach it in baby steps you might be surprised at how simple it can be to create healthier habits. For more info about detoxing your kitchen, check out my Healthy Kitchen Guide.
Remember, take a breath and start small. All of this information can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You got this.
Emma Rohmann is an environmental engineer, mother of 2, and green living consultant. Through workshops and personalized consultations, she offers fact-based and judgment free information and solutions to help you create a healthier home. Learn more at www.greenathome.ca.