A holiday feast is a chance to celebrate goodwill and peace on Earth. You already know about the benefits of making every meal a sustainable and locally sourced one. You may not know that you can cook an even healthier meal (and I don't mean by adding flax seeds or losing the gravy) by reducing your exposure to chemicals like Bisphenol-A (BPA) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Environment Canada and Health Canada has called BPA one of the 200 chemicals of greatest risk. If you're avoiding hard plastics and bottled water, you're already on the road to reducing your exposure. But this hormone disrupting chemical also leaches from the epoxy resin which lines many canned goods.
Testing in the U.S. and Europe confirms that BPA actually migrates out of canned foods like baby formula, beans, and soups to name a few. Save yourself the risk by making some tweaks to your grocery shopping list. Pass on the canned goods like cranberry sauce, corn and peas. Instead, switch to fresh, frozen or dried goods. Making your own cranberry sauce from fresh or frozen berries not only cuts down the chemicals, it also gives you the added benefit of controlling the salt and sugar content.
Every kitchen likely has at least one piece of non-stick or Teflon coated cookware. PFOA is a chemical used in Teflon and other products including some kinds of dental floss, microwave popcorn bags, frying pans and even pizza boxes. As products with PFOA age and wear, the toxic compound is released. It is a suspected carcinogen and hormone disruptor that we know stays in the body and environment for a long, long time. Yikes — doesn't sound too yummy, does it?
PFOA is slated to be phased out by 2015. The good news is that you can start cutting it out now! Try safer alternatives like cooking with stainless steel, glass or cast iron. Maybe add these options to your "all I want for Christmas list"? Either way, leave the non-stick products in the cupboard when creating your holiday meal masterpieces.
Want to recycle you're old non-stick cookware? Contact the manufacturer of your product. See what they offer in terms of rebates or returns. You can also contact your local city recycling depot to see if they take scrap metal or can refer you to a metal recycler. If you've found a solution, please post a comment here. In the interim, line your non-stick bakeware with 100% recycled parchment paper to keep the toxins from directly contacting your food.
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green