I’m feeling a bit discouraged. It’s all about canned goods.
I can’t ignore the voices of concern that are getting increasingly loud about the chemical Bisphenol A, or BPA. BPA lines the cans we buy (think soup, tuna, black beans), and BPA is found in the blood stream of people who eat canned foods. A Campbell’s soup product made specifically for children had particularly high levels. BPA is being linked to hormonal abnormalities in fish and frogs, and the potential effects on newborns are scary. Naturally the Food and Drug Administration tells us that the research is inconclusive and BPA levels are well below the danger point, but try telling that to the fish.
So do I keep eating canned foods? I have a fair number of canned goods in my routine diet, from canned sardines and salmon to canned beets. As I’ve become more aware of the concerns, I’ve backed away a bit, but I have not made a commitment to giving them up completely, as John Peterson Myers of Environmental Health Sciences has done.
I donated canned goods to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive this past week. Now I’m concerned about the extent to which people using food banks must rely on canned products—just one more way that being low-income puts you at risk for health concerns. There are a few manufacturers that are producing BPA-free cans, including Eden Organics (beans) and Wild Planet (tuna). Unfortunately, these products are so high priced, I am unlikely to buy them frequently for myself, and I don’t see them as a good use of food dollars for food banks. (Let’s face it, is spending $5 for a small can of tuna the best way to make sure everybody gets enough to eat?)
How much is hype? How much is mass hysteria? How much is a real threat? New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who often writes about young girls sold as prostitutes and other such humanitarian nightmares, devoted his column to BPA recently. Canada declared BPA toxic and is committed to phasing out BPA in can linings. Even Campbell’s soup has announced it will change its cans (undoubtedly the result of the negative publicity from the soup report). The market for BPA-free baby bottles is booming. Research continues, slowly and with frustrating uncertainties.
If you’ve followed my blog you know I am devoted fresh vegetables, whole foods, and a healthful diet. I’ve always included some canned goods as part of that diet, and I am loathe to give up the convenience and options those foods offer. Sadly, now I must notice, and think, and wonder, every time I pull out the can opener.
Questions for Reflection: Do you eat canned foods? How does the information about BPA affect your choice of these foods? How do you deal with the food safety issues that are increasing concerns?
Writing Prompts: “When it comes to food safety, I tend to ______” (then keep writing); “The news about BPA is important to me because ______” (then keep writing); “In general, I cope with risk factors by ______” (then keep writing).