When healthy isn´t so

I´ve been losing some sleep over this.

I go through great lengths to buy unpackaged or at least non-plastic packaged food.  This thing is about reducing waste, but just as much about health, if not more so now that I have a child.

A simple example, if you will, to illustrate the stuff of my nightmares.

My baby packs down an enormous amount of food, so we start the day with some healthy oatmeal.  Oats bought organic and in bulk. To cook oats one needs water and or milk.  I wouldn´t touch bottled water with a ten-foot pole, so it´s tap.  The milk I have purchased also organic and in glass.  Throw on some organic blueberries picked last summer and frozen in jars and voila. One would imagine this kids got it good.

Yuh.

Depending on where you live and what kinds of pipes your water comes from, plastic chemicals can be in your tap water.  I`ve lived in newer buildings where you can taste and smell the plastic in the water from the new plastic pipes.  There´s a big deal going on in Finland right now where they found a number of plastic chemicals in tap water where these new plastic pipes were used…including 2 UNKNOWN chemicals!!   Or, in other cases BPA based epoxy resins are also used to coat metal water piping.

The milk.  New studies have shown that plastic chemicals are found in everyday foods such as milk and other cream-based dairy products, poultry, cooking oils and other common foods. A large percentage comes from the packaging, so I have that covered.  But poo on me, estrogen-mimicking plastic chemicals also enter the food during processing.   Here is a disturbing excerpt from an Environmental Working Group post:

The study, by Sheela Sathyanarayana and colleagues at the University of Washington, concluded that “phthalates can migrate into food from plasticized [polyvinyl chloride] materials such as tubing typically used in the milking process, lid gaskets, food-packaging films, gloves used in the preparation of foods, and conveyor belts.”  The scientists found that dairy products were particularly likely to become contaminated with phthalates during pasteurization and packaging.

Read the post if you are so inclined.  There are many interesting things there.

So at this point, my baby is happily chucking porridge all over the walls, and I am starting to think that the wall might be a better place for it than his mouth, since many of the chemicals possibly swimming in there have been banned in children´s toys due to their association with “reduced male fertility and reproductive birth defects. Numerous research studies have also linked phthalates to endometriosis in women, increases in waist size and body mass index and brain and behavior changes in infants and children.” says the EWG.  I need to sit down and have a beer to process this- organic, from a bottle.  Or maybe not.

One recent study found some of Germany’s bestselling beers contained up to 79 plastic microparticles per litre.  Huh?!  Read on. One now wonders what other beers and beverages are also contaminated, even if bought in glass.

As if my eating rules aren´t complicated enough- and my man is going to roll his eyes now- but here`s my plan and a few tips.

  • Tap water- always filter in a non-plastic jug.  If not filtered, then let the water run for at least a minute to purge the plastic-marinated water.
  • Milk and other dairy products- reduce consumption.  Try to connect with local dairy where the process isn´t quite so lengthy. I happen to know someone with a ton of excess goat milk, so that might be my in.  If buy in store, buy low-fat as the plastic is often in fatty stuff.
  • Meat- buy local, buy big.  Freeze.
  • Juice and other beverages make own when possible.  I´ve recently come across a ton of currants and making juice from them is as simple as boiling and straining.  No plastic involved.
  • Beer- need to investigate further.  Ask local brewer where the problem might lie.
  • Other processed foods that one might find not in plastic- reevaluate if really necessary.  Most of the time, not necessary.

Bon appetit.

6 thoughts on “When healthy isn´t so

  1. I have started letting the tapwater run for quite a while because mine (in Germany) even tasted like plastic… as far as I’m aware it’s ‘only’ because of the stuff that’s used in my kitchen because in the bathroom it all tastes perfectly normal…

  2. Ugh, I’ve been wondering about plastic water pipes for a while, as London’s been going through a huge process of replacing the Victorian water mains (cast iron, I think) with new blue plastic ones…

    Do you have a good source for a non-plastic water filter jug? Is there such a thing as a plastic-free filter cartridge? I’d find it hard to waste a minute’s worth of tap water each time I wanted a drink or water for cooking etc. And there’s lots of evidence now suggesting full-fat dairy is better for you than low-fat, so it’s very difficult to know how to balance the different health concerns out.

    Lastly, I guess buying from bulk bins reduces the plastic packaging but of course the stuff arrives at the store in plastic – I know this because I buy direct from a wholesaler and even if you buy 25kg of rice it still comes sealed in a plastic sack. Argh.

    1. I have a Berkey water filter. It’s stainless steel with a few plastic knobs. I’m waiting on a reply on how well it actually reduces plastic chemicals but it does take the smell and taste out.

      Dairy. I’m a baker and pleasure victim so I love fatty milk, cream, and butter. My new found knowledge is stripping my enjoyment of these things however, so finding a new source is the first option. Reducing is second. Plus this is one area that Id like to dedicate energy to politically speaking.

      Bulk. Plastic free it is not- but I’m convinced that one big bag is still less plastic than many individual bags. Think surface area. Luckily most of that stuff is dry, so the contamination factor is low. However, it’s still better to seek big paper sacks of oat eg. than relying on many small purchases.

      The plastic calculations never end, but we’re still ahead of the game in terms of waste, health, and quality of life.

      1. Yes, I also reckon one big bag must be better than lots of small ones – plus I can sometimes re-use the big bags in sewing projects (waterproof bag lining) where the small ones wouldn’t work. The one that annoys me most, waste-wise rather than health-wise, is the paper bags of flour that come shrink-wrapped together in wholesale packs of 5!!

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