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Microplastics Found In 93% Of Bottled Water Tested In Global Study

Researchers examined 11 different brands of water purchased in 9 countries

The bottled water industry is estimated to be worth nearly $200 billion a year, surpassing sugary sodas as the most popular beverage in many countries. But its perceived image of cleanliness and purity is being challenged by a global investigation that found the water tested is often contaminated with tiny particles of plastic.

“Our love affair with making single-use disposable plastics out of a material that lasts for literally centuries — that’s a disconnect, and I think we need to rethink our relationship with that,” says Prof. Sherri Mason, a microplastics researcher who carried out the laboratory work at the State University of New York (SUNY).

The research was conducted on behalf of Orb Media, a U.S-based non-profit journalism organization with which CBC News has partnered.

Mason’s team tested 259 bottles of water purchased in nine countries (none were bought in Canada). Though many brands are sold internationally, the water source, manufacturing and bottling process for the same brand can differ by country.

The 11 brands tested include the world’s dominant players — Nestle Pure Life, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, San Pellegrino and Gerolsteiner — as well as major national brands across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Researchers found 93 per cent of all bottles tested contained some sort of microplastic, including polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

10.4 particles/litre on average

Microplastics are the result of the breakdown of all the plastic waste that makes its way into landfills and oceans. They are also manufactured intentionally, as microbeads used in skin care products. Microbeads are now being phased out in Canada, after significant numbers began to appear in the Great Lakes and the tiny particles were found filling the stomachs of fish.

Anything smaller than five millimetres in size (5,000 microns) is considered microplastic.

Orb found on average there were 10.4 particles of plastic per litre that were 100 microns (0.10 mm) or bigger. This is double the level of microplastics in the tap water tested from more than a dozen countries across five continents, examined in a 2017 study by Orb that looked at similar-sized plastics.

Other, smaller particles were also discovered — 314 of them per litre, on average — which some of the experts consulted about the Orb study believe are plastics but cannot definitively identify.

The amount of particles varied from bottle to bottle: while some contained one, others contained thousands.

The purpose of the study was to establish the presence of the plastics in bottled water.

It’s unclear what the effect of microplastics is on human health, and no previous work has established a maximum safe level of consumption. There are no rules or standards for allowable limits of microplastics in bottled water in Canada, the United States and Europe. Rules and standards for other countries from the study are not known.

Two brands — Nestle and Gerolsteiner — confirmed their own testing showed their water contained microplastics, albeit at much lower levels than what Orb Media is reporting.

Emerging science

Plastics are present nearly everywhere and can take hundreds of years to degrade, if at all. Many types only continue to break down into smaller and smaller particles, until they are not visible to the naked eye.

Plastics have also been known to act like a sponge, and can absorb and release chemicals that could be harmful if consumed by mammals and fish.

“It’s not straightforward,” said Prof. Max Liboiron of Memorial University in St John’s.
“If you’ve ever had chili or spaghetti and you put it in Tupperware, and you can’t scrub the orange colour out, that’s a manifestation of how plastics absorb oily chemicals,” says Liboiron, director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), which monitors plastic pollution.

The European Food Safety Authority suggests most microplastics will be excreted by the body. But the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has raised concerns about the possibility some particles could be small enough to pass into the bloodstream and organs.

It’s not clear how the plastic is getting into the bottled water — whether it’s the water source itself or the air or the manufacturing and bottling process.

“Even the simple act of opening the cap could cause plastic to be chipping off the cap,” Mason said.

The science behind the test

The water tested was purchased in the U.S., Kenya, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mexico and Thailand, and represented a range of brands across several continents. It was shipped to the specialized lab at SUNY in Fredonia, N.Y.

Scientists used Nile Red fluorescent tagging, an emerging method for the rapid identification of microplastics, as the dye binds to plastic. Scientists put the dyed water through a filter and then viewed samples under a microscope.

Mason’s team was able to identify specific plastics over 100 microns (0.10 mm) in size but not smaller particles. According to experts contacted by CBC News, there is a chance the Nile Red dye is adhering to another unknown substance other than plastic.

Mason leaves open that possibility but leans strongly to the smaller particles being plastic.

The developer of the Nile Red method agrees.

Fluorescing particles that were too small to be analyzed should be called “probable microplastic,” said Andrew Mayes, senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.

Orb consulted several toxicologists and microplastics experts throughout the entire process who also reviewed the findings.

“This is pretty substantial,” Mayes said. “I’ve looked in some detail at the finer points of the way the work was done, and I’m satisfied that it has been applied carefully and appropriately, in a way that I would have done it in my lab.”

CBC News also asked multiple experts to review Orb’s study; while similar questions came up with the Nile Red dye, they were convinced there was some level of microplastics in the water and further research was warranted.

Big brands respond

Nestle said in a response that it had tested six bottles of water from two of its brands — Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino — and found between two and 12 microplastics per litre, much lower than what Orb found in its study. The company suggested that Nile Red dye is known to “generate false positives.”

Gerolsteiner also said its tests showed a “significantly lower quantity of microplastics per litre” in its products.

“We still cannot understand how the study reached the conclusions it did,” the company said. “The research results do not correspond to the internal analyses that we conduct on a regular basis,” the company said in a response.

Danone, the company behind Evian and Indonesian brand Aqua, told Orb it is “not in a position to comment as the testing methodology used is unclear. There is still limited data on the topic, and conclusions differ dramatically from one study to another.”

Brazilian brand Minalba told Orb that it abides by all quality and security standards required by Brazilian legislation.

The American Beverage Association, which represents many of the biggest brands across North America, including Nestle, Evian, Dasani and Aquafina, told Orb that “the science on microplastics and microfibres is nascent and an emerging field…. We stand by the safety of our bottled water products and we are interested in contributing to serious scientific research that will … help us all understand the scope, impact and appropriate next steps.”

Brands Biserli and Wahaha did not respond to Orb’s request for comment.

Plastics, plastics everywhere

Within three decades, there will be more plastics in the oceans than fish. They are having a profound effect on the environment. In the oceans, vast quantities float on the surface, trapping sea life and blocking the sun’s rays from entering the waters.

Mason points out people can choose to not buy water in a plastic bottle, and to carry a refillable bottle instead. But for other products, there is no choice. The majority of products on grocery and retail store shelves are contained in plastic.

“It’s portable, it’s lightweight, it’s convenient, it’s cheap — that just makes it easy,” Mason says. “It’s so difficult to get people to care about things they can’t see.”

By David Common, Eric Szeto, CBC News      Mar 14, 2018 
 
source: www.cbc.ca
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13 Ways to Keep Plastics Out of Your Food

Take action to protect your food—and your family—from BPA.

Our exploding use of plastics may be causing population decline in the industrial world. The possible cause? “Chemicals in commerce.” Namely plastics.

Our bodies have receptor sites for hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. These sites fulfill various important bodily functions. Imagine if instead of real hormones the receptors receive chemicals that mimic hormones, such as are found in plasticizers. This fools the body into thinking it has the real thing until, oops, the plasticizer or other hormone disrupting chemical derails the system. Called endocrine disruption, this phenomenon was brought to worldwide attention in 1996 with the seminal book Our Stolen Future.

There are a number of before-and-after reports of people eating food that had been stored in plastic packaging who then have their blood drawn to see horrifying spikes of the plasticizer bisphenol a (BPA). The discussion about the experiment in the book Slow Death by Rubber Duck is the most famous. Many plastic items are made with BPA, and parents especially have put pressure on companies to drop it. Unfortunately, the common “BPA-Free” substitute, BPS, may cause hyperactivity.

A 2014 NIH study reports that “Growing evidence from research on laboratory animals, wildlife, and humans supports the view that BPA produces an endocrine disrupting effect and adversely affects male reproductive function.”

Phthalates such as DEHP are designed to make plastic soft, such as for plastic food wrap. DEHP has been reported in an NIH study to affect male reproductive development, sperm quality and male hormone levels in general. The problems can go beyond low sperm quality, to include low libido, cancer and erectile dysfunction.

Worse, experimental results actually suggested that multiple generations of exposure may have increased male sensitivity to the chemical. Niels Erik Skakkebaek, an adjunct professor in endocrine disrupters, has for years advocated the concept that poor semen quality is part of a bigger phenomenon, called testicular dysgenesis syndrome.

One real challenge with the research is that scientists have only measured plasticizers in urine since 2000. Skeptics will say there isn’t nearly enough research to prove that plastic exposure is causing low sperm count. Industry is fighting hard to keep BPA on the market and FDA is changing course due to that pressure.

BPA isn’t just bad for men. Research has shown that BPA exposure can impact pregnant women’s thyroids and has been linked to cell damage in post-menopausal women.

The mandate of the precautionary principle is to take preventive action in the face of scientific uncertainty in order to prevent harm. Carolyn Raffensperger is the founding executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network. She says the precautionary principle “has three building blocks. One is scientific uncertainty. The second is the likelihood or the plausibility of harm. The third element is precautionary action….the Precautionary Principle invites action: it says you’ve got to take action.”

Here are ways to take action to protect your food from BPA.

1. Smell and taste test.

Can you smell or taste plastic? If you can smell plastic, track down the source and remove it. If you can taste plastic, don’t eat that type or source of food again.

2. Use glass or stainless steel.

Avoid drinking from plastic bottles and choose glass or stainless steel instead. Make a special point to avoid polycarbonate, the “hard” plastic with a recycling code of #7 (more about this in #5, below). And be sure to use glass baby bottles for infants.

3. Avoid processed food.

If there was ever a reason to stop eating processed foods, this is it. The plasticizer adipate (DEHA) is used as an additive in all sorts of foods, including ones you wouldn’t expect, such as fat, dairy and egg-based deserts, frozen fish, processed fruit and breakfast cereals. It is a chemical that helps material resist high temperatures and is also used in foods as a bulking agent, stabilizer and thickener.

4. Skip plastic food wraps.

DEHP (phthalates) are found in food wrap and many kinds are made of PVC, #3 on the recycling code. It’s especially important to refrain from storing hot, fatty food in plastic as the plastics easily migrate into the food. So skip the cling wrap and go for glass food storage containers. Never heat food in plastic in a microwave.

5. Check recyling codes.

Check for #3 and #7 recycling codes, and use plastic-free alternatives for the products. #3 is commonly used for packaging of salad dressing, ketchup, mineral water, cooking oil, mouthwash, shampoo, etc. #7 is commonly found in aseptic packaging and baby bottles. It is also found in some reusable water bottles, stain-resistant food storage containers, most canned foods, and hard plastic water bottles. Read more about toxic plastics in “The 10 Most Contaminated Foods in Your Fridge.”

6. Don’t burn plastic.

Don’t burn plastic, whatever you do. Don’t start a fire using any food packaging in the fireplace or wood stove, don’t clean up a campsite before you leave by burning packaging, and don’t burn food packaging in the backyard burn barrels. Breathing these chemicals is not a good idea!

7. Make food essentials at home.

Buy products packaged in glass or learn to make your own: 10 Healthy Food Essentials You Can Make at Home.

8. Skip canned foods and soda.

Just skip canned food and soda until the industry finds plastic-free alternatives. Epoxy resins containing BPA are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans. Note that aseptic packaging, such as Tetra Pak, is BPA-free, but does contain low-density polyethylene (LDPE).

9. Check your wine and beer containers.

Wine that has been fermented in BPA-resin lined vats will contain BPA, as will wine that touches synthetic corks that are made with BPA. Happily, it is extremely rare for wine to be fermented in BPA-resin lined vats to begin with. Most wine is fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Wines that have BPA are fermented in concrete fermentation vats, but check your vineyard to make sure, if local. Also, beer cans are lined with BPA, so choose glass bottles instead.

10. Avoid plastic food containers.

Polycarbonate is a hard plastic, so those hard plastic food storage containers are out. Instead of storing food in plastic, use glass.

11. Store filtered water in glass containers.

You need filtered water. Most counter-top water filters have a polycarbonate receptacle. You can manage a few workarounds for this. Place the top of the filter on top of a big glass or stainless steel jug so the water will pass through the filter and be stored in a clean container.

12. Swap out plastic kitchen appliances for glass.

The receptacles of many kitchen appliances, like coffee makers, blenders and food processors are plastic. Most coffee makers have a plastic reservoir to hold the water. Most blenders, food processords and popcorn makers are made entirely of polycarbonate. For coffee, you can use a glass French press. Make sure you don’t put hot fatty food into kitchen appliances as they suck up plastic the most.

13. Avoid handling receipts.

The thermal paper for cash register receipts carries large amounts of BPA. When you shop for food, try not to handle the receipt with your exposed hand.

Find more plastic alternatives at LifeWithoutPlastic.com
 
By Annie B. Bond      AlterNet        September 13, 2017

Annie B. Bond is the author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999). She is the co-author of True Food: Eight Simple Steps to a Healthier You, winner of the Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World.


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Microwaving food in plastic: Dangerous or not?

Let’s cover the original misinformation first: The earliest missives warned that microwaved plastic releases cancer-causing chemicals called dioxins into food. The problem with that warning is that plastics don’t contain dioxins. They are created when garbage, plastics, metals, wood, and other materials are burned. As long as you don’t burn your food in a microwave, you aren’t exposing yourself to dioxins.

Migrating chemicals

There’s no single substance called “plastic.” That term covers many materials made from an array of organic and inorganic compounds. Substances are often added to plastic to help shape or stabilize it. Two of these plasticizers are

  • bisphenol-A (BPA), added to make clear, hard plastic
  • phthalates, added to make plastic soft and flexible

BPA and phthalates are believed to be “endocrine disrupters.” These are substances that mimic human hormones, and not for the good.

When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, BPA and phthalates may leak into the food. Any migration is likely to be greater with fatty foods such as meats and cheeses than with other foods.

The FDA long ago recognized the potential for small amounts of plasticizers to migrate into food. So it closely regulates plastic containers and materials that come into contact with food. The FDA requires manufacturers to test these containers using tests that meet FDA standards and specifications. It then reviews test data before approving a container for microwave use.

Some of these tests measure the migration of chemicals at temperatures that the container or wrap is likely to encounter during ordinary use. For microwave approval, the agency estimates the ratio of plastic surface area to food, how long the container is likely to be in the microwave, how often a person is likely to eat from the container, and how hot the food can be expected to get during microwaving. The scientists also measure the chemicals that leach into food and the extent to which they migrate in different kinds of foods. The maximum allowable amount is 100–1,000 times less per pound of body weight than the amount shown to harm laboratory animals over a lifetime of use. Only containers that pass this test can display a microwave-safe icon, the words “microwave safe,” or words to the effect that they’re approved for use in microwave ovens.

When Good Housekeeping microwaved food in 31 plastic containers, lids, and wraps, it found that almost none of the food contained plastic additives.

What about containers without a microwave-safe label? They aren’t necessarily unsafe; the FDA simply hasn’t determined whether it is or not.

man-microwave-dinner-into-mic

Is Styrofoam microwave safe?

Contrary to popular belief, some Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers can safely be used in the microwave. Just follow the same rule you follow for other plastic containers: Check the label.

The bottom line

Here are some things to keep in mind when using the microwave:

  • If you’re concerned about plastic wraps or containers in the microwave, transfer food to glass or ceramic containers labeled for use in microwave ovens.
  • Don’t let plastic wrap touch food during microwaving because it may melt. Wax paper, kitchen parchment paper, white paper towels, or a domed container that fits over a plate or bowl are better alternatives.
  • Most takeout containers, water bottles, and plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yogurt, whipped topping, and foods such as cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard are not microwave-safe.
  • Microwavable takeout dinner trays are formulated for one-time use only and will say so on the package.
  • Old, scratched, or cracked containers, or those that have been microwaved many times, may leach out more plasticizers.
  • Don’t microwave plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store.
  • Before microwaving food, be sure to vent the container: leave the lid ajar, or lift the edge of the cover.

 Read more about the BPA controversy and get tips to decrease your exposure.

 Updated: October 27, 2015   Originally published: February 2006


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Ban on Chemicals Lowers Human Exposures, Study Finds

By Steven Reinberg  HealthDay Reporter  

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The banning of certain types of a common class of chemicals known as phthalates has reduced Americans’ exposure to the chemicals’ potential harms, a new study suggests.

However, the researchers also found evidence of increased exposure to other phthalates that could pose similar health risks.

Phthalates are used to make plastic more flexible, and are found in items such as nail polish, fragrances, plastic products and building materials. In 2009, the U.S. Congress voted to ban some of the chemicals from children’s products because of their disruptive effects on human hormones.

“Exposure to three of the phthalates that have been banned in children’s toys has decreased over 10 years,” said lead researcher Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services.

For other phthalates, however, exposure has increased, Zota said. “[The increase is] probably because these new phthalates are replacing the phthalates that have been phased out,” she said.

Some of these newer phthalates have been studied in animals and found to be just as harmful as the banned phthalates, Zota added. “We are uncertain about their potential human health effects,” she said.

Zota said she thinks companies are replacing the banned chemicals with phthalates that haven’t been banned.

Although she could not say whether all phthalates should be banned, Zota said the lesson of the continuing phthalate story is a simple one: “We need to do a better job of understanding the health and safety ramifications of chemicals before they’re used in a widespread manner,” she said.

The report was published online Jan. 15 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Some studies have linked phthalates to DNA damage in sperm and lower sperm quality in men. Other research has found that exposure among pregnant women might alter genital development in their male children. Exposure to phthalates also has been linked to thinking and behavioral problems in boys and girls, the researchers said.

In a statement, the American Chemistry Council, a trade association for U.S. chemical companies, said there is scant evidence that phthalates are harmful.

 

“Information collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the last 10 years indicates that, despite the fact that phthalates are used in many products, exposure is extremely low — much lower than the levels considered safe by regulatory agencies,” the statement said.

“It is worth noting, however, that the [new study] tells us nothing about the migration rate of any particular [phthalate] from flexible vinyl; nothing about how the [phthalate] might break down in the environment; and nothing about whether minute amounts of the [phthalate] might present any sort of environmental or health issue,” the statement added.

On the other side of the issue, Johanna Congleton, a senior scientist at the environmental-advocacy organization Environmental Working Group, said, “While we are pleased that the levels of certain bad actor phthalates have declined in the U.S. population, it is worrisome that the body burdens of other types of phthalates have increased.”

“Research tells us that replacement phthalates may have similar health impacts, such as adverse effects on hormone signaling and male reproductive development,” Congleton said.” Swapping out one problematic chemical for another that may be just as bad is not the answer. Clearly we need better safety testing for chemicals before they come to market, so we can be sure that replacement chemicals are truly greener.”

For the study, Zota and her colleagues looked at exposure to phthalates from 2001 to 2010 among 11,000 people who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers found that almost everyone had been exposed to some phthalates, including those that had been partially banned.

Among all phthalates, three have been permanently banned in all children’s products. Another three were temporarily banned, pending further study, from use in children’s toys that might be placed in the mouth.

Zota’s team found that exposure to permanently banned phthalates decreased.

However, exposure to the phthalates that were banned until further study is conducted (DnOP, DiDP and DiNP) actually increased. DnOP and DiDP exposure increased 15 percent and 25 percent, respectively, and exposure to DiNP increased nearly 150 percent. DiNP is being used to replace other phthalates, the researchers said.

In addition, the researchers found changes in exposures to the other two phthalates (DEP and DiBP), neither of which has been subject to federal restrictions. Exposure to DEP decreased by 42 percent since 2001, but tripled for DiBP.

Zota said consumers who are worried about exposure to phthalates should look for phthalate-free products, which are becoming more widely available.



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How to Store Vegetables & Fruit Without Plastic

So you’ve got all these great fruits and vegetables and now we’re going to help you keep them at their freshest with these tips. These tips are from the Berkley Farmer’s Market which is a Zero Waste market! Here is a printable PDF of their original tip sheet. In the works here at Washington’s Green Grocer is a switch from plastic bags (although we use as few as we can get away with, while still keeping your produce from getting battered on it’s way to you) to only recyclable paper and reuseable cloth bags! 

How to Store Vegetables without Plastic

Artichokes‐ place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.

Asparagus‐ place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)

Avocados‐ place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening‐ place an apple in the bag with them.

Arugula‐ arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture.

Basil‐ is difficult to store well. Basil does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside‐left out on a cool counter.

Beans, shelling‐ open container in the fridge, eat ASAP. Some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away

Beets‐ cut the tops off to keep beets firm, (be sure to keep the greens!)by leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them loose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.

Beet greens‐ place in an airtight container with a little moisture.

Broccoli‐ place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.

Broccoli Rabe‐ left in an open container in the crisper, but best used as soon as possible.

Brussels Sprouts‐ If bought on the stalk leave them on that stalk. Put the stalk in the fridge or leave it on a cold place. If they’re bought loose store them in an open container with a damp towel on top.

Cabbage‐ left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to loose its moisture after a week , so, best used as soon as possible.

Carrots‐ cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.

Cauliflower‐ will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.

Celery‐ does best when simply places in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter.

Celery root/Celeriac‐ wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper.

Corn‐ leave unhusked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best eaten sooner then later for maximum flavor.

Cucumber‐ wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room.

Eggplant‐ does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it, eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage‐ place loose, in the crisper.

Fava beans‐ place in an air tight container.

Fennel‐ if used within a couple days after it’s bought fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water (like celery). If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water.

Garlic‐ store in a cool, dark, place.

Green garlic‐an airtight container in the fridge or left out for a day or two is fine, best before dried out.

Greens‐ remove any bands, twist ties, etc. most greens must be kept in an air‐tight container with a damp cloth‐ to keep them from drying out. Kale, collards, and chard even do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.

Green beans‐ they like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container.

Green Tomatoes‐ store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color.

Herbs- a closed container in the fridge to kept up to a week. Any longer might encourage mold.

Lettuce‐ keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.

Leeks‐leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter (just so the very bottom of the stem has water).

Okra‐ doesn’t like humidity. So a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase


Onion‐ store in a cool, dark and dry, place‐ good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them.

Parsnips‐an open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge.

Potatoes‐ (like garlic and onions) store in cool, dark and dry place, such as, a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.

Radicchio‐ place in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top.

Radishes‐ remove the greens (store separately) so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots and place them in a open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.

Rhubarb‐wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator.

Rutabagas‐ in an ideal situation a cool, dark, humid root cellar or a closed container in the crisper to keep their moisture in.

Snap peas‐ refrigerate in an open container

Spinach‐ store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold.

Spring onions‐ Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper.

Summer Squash‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut.

Sweet peppers‐ Only wash them right before you plan on eating them as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days, place in the crisper if longer storage needed.

Sweet Potatoes‐ Store in a cool, dark, well‐ventilated place. Never refrigerate‐‐sweet potatoes don’t like the cold.

Tomatoes‐ Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.

Turnips‐ remove the greens (store separately) same as radishes and beets, store them in an open container with a moist cloth.

Winter squash‐store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten.

Zucchini‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

Apples‐ store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage in a cardboard box in the fridge.

Citrus‐ store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container.

Apricots‐ on a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe

Cherries‐store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, any added moisture encourages mold.

Berries-Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well, only wash before you plan on eating them.

Dates‐dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag‐ as long as it’s porous to keeping the moisture away from the skin of the dates.

Figs‐ Don’t like humidity, so, no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week un‐stacked.

Melons‐ uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, an open container is fine.

Nectarines‐ (similar to apricots) store in the fridge is okay if ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature.

Peaches (and most stone fruit)‐ refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter.

Pears‐ will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them.

Persimmon –Fuyu‐(shorter/pumpkin shaped): store at room temperature.–Hachiya‐ (longer/pointed end): room temperature until completely mushy. The astringentness of them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, check now and then, but don’t stack‐they get very fragile when really ripe.

Pomegranates‐ keep up to a month stored on a cool counter.

Strawberries‐ Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.


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Back-to-School Supplies Contain Toxic Chemicals, Report

According to a new consumer report, children’s back-to -school supplies have chemicals that have been linked to asthma and birth defects.


BY AMBER MOORE | AUG 27, 2012



According to a new consumer report, children’s back-to -school supplies have chemicals that have been linked to asthma and birth defects.High levels of phthalates were found in vinyl backpacks, rain boots, raincoats, lunch boxes and 3-ring binders. Popular branded school supplies including Disney, Dora and Spiderman had elevated levels of phthalates.

According to the report, 80 percent of children’s back to school supplies contained phthalates and about 75 percent contained levels of phthalates that would have been considered a violation of federal law if these supplies were treated as toys.

One product, the Amazing Spiderman Lunchbox, contained an estimated 27,900 parts per million (ppm) of the phthalate DEHP which is 27 times more phthalate than what is allowed in toys.

“Our investigation found elevated levels of toxic phthalates widespread in children’s school supplies, including Disney and Spider-Man lunchboxes and backpacks. These dangerous chemicals manufactured by Exxon Mobil have no place in our children’s school supplies,” said Mike Schade, Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) author of the new report, Hidden Hazards: Toxic Chemicals Inside Children’s Vinyl Back-to-School Supplies.

“Unfortunately, while phthalates have been banned in children’s toys, similar safeguards don’t yet exist to keep them out of lunchboxes, backpacks and other children’s school supplies. It’s time for Congress to move forward and pass the Safe Chemicals Act to protect our children from toxic exposure,” said Schade in a press release.

Phthalates are used in a variety of things like soaps, shampoos, building materials plastic toys etc. Previous research has shown that exposure to phthalates is common in infants. Phthalates are also known to disrupt the human hormonal system and reproduction system. Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is used extensively because it is flexible and stable. This flexibility is achieved by the use of plasticizers like phthalates, diesters of phthalates and phthalic acids. Previous research has shown that exposure to phthalates can cause asthma.

In the present study, 20 back-to-school supplies available at various store in the New York City area were tested for the presence of phthalates. Researchers at Paradigm Environmental Services tested multiple components of the same products for the presence of 6 phthalates and heavy metals. The phthalates measured were Diethyl phthalate (DEP), Dimethyl phthalate (DMP), Di‐n‐butyl phthalate (DBP), Bis (2‐ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), Butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP) and Di‐n‐octyl phthalate (DnOP).
“This report highlights the fact that parents can’t assume that a product is safe for their kids simply because it’s on a store shelf. Nothing could be further from the truth. We need comprehensive laws that make sure chemicals are safe,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director, Clean and Healthy New York, in a press release.

The report recommends that parents must
  • -> Always buy products that do not contain vinyl
  • -> Check for universal recycling symbol. If the product has been labeled as V or PVC, then avoid the product.
  • If you are unsure if the product has vinyl then email or call the 1-800 number of the manufacturer or the retailer and ask them about the material used in the product.


source: medicaldaily


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33 Ways to Eat Environmentally Friendly

If you started using reusable bags exclusively starting at age 25, you could save more than 21,000 plastic bags in your lifetime. Point being: sustainable eating doesn’t have to be hard, and it also doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. A single change can make a difference

By LAURA NEWCOMER | GREATIST.COM | August 24, 2012

The sustainable food movement is sweeping the country. Farmer’s markets, organic produce, genetically modified foods, cage-free eggs — they’ve all become part of the cultural lingo. While a lot of this conversation focuses around whether organic foods are better for people’s health, let’s not forget that these trends are also good for the planet. Read on to learn about the 33 environmentally friendly eating habits that are making a difference for our bodies and our earth.

At the store:
1. Reuse it. Bring a reusable bag on your next shopping trip, and you’ve already helped out the planet. The U.S. alone uses about 100 billion new plastic bags each year, and (brace yourself) this massive production costs 12 million barrels of oil. Worldwide, only about 1% of plastic bags are recycled — which means that the rest end up in landfills, oceans or elsewhere in the environment. Why does it matter? Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, but light exposure can degrade them enough to release toxic polymer particles — most of which end up in the ocean. Approximately 1 million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting plastic bags, which block their digestive tracts. And public agencies spend millions of dollars on litter clean-up each year. (In case you’re wondering, paper bags aren’t much better. Each year, 14 million trees are cut down to make paper shopping bags via a process that requires even more energy than the making of plastic bags.)
2. Strip down. Look for products with minimal packaging, like unwrapped produce or meat straight from the deli counter or butcher. Excess packaging is often made out of unsustainable materials and contributes to waste that ends up in landfills. Perhaps the worst culprit is polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam), which is a suspected carcinogen and is manufactured through an energy-intensive process that creates hazardous waste and greenhouse gases.
3. Don’t buy the bottle. Millions of tons of plastic are used to produce billions of plastic water bottles each yearSave money and lessen waste by drinking tap water from a reusable water bottle. Worried about your health? Try a water filter, or take courage from the fact that a lot of bottled water is likely no better than what’s on tap.
4. Shop different. Choose to give your money to stores that demonstrate care for the planet, both in their company practices and in the food selections they provide. Look for a selection of local and organic foods as well as store practices that limit waste (think doors on the refrigerated sections so that energy isn’t wasted, minimal and/or recyclable packaging and a store-wide recycling program).
Produce:
5. Go local. Eating locally grown foods is possibly the best way to lower your carbon footprint when it comes to what you eat. Bonus: Eating locally means that food will be fresher — and therefore taste better and perhaps retain more nutrients — than food shipped across the globe.
6. Eat more of it. Eat more produce than any other food category, and you’ve already made an impact for the planet (not to mention your body!).
7. Go organic. The definition of organic can be a little confusing, but food labels can help. Certified organic foods are grown and processed using farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity, without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes or petroleum- or sewage-sludge-based fertilizers. (Weird. Who wouldn’t want their food grown in sewage sludge?) Though their benefits to the environment have a long-term payoff, organic foods can be pricier — if you’re on a budget, find out which foods are most worth buying organic, and limit your organic purchases to the ones that make the biggest impact.
8. Eat it raw. Chomp down on a raw carrot instead of boiling or sautéing it, and save energy that would otherwise have been used to power cooking appliances.
9. Eat in season. Seasonal nomming allows you to eat locally — and we’ve already covered how important local purchasing is for the environment. Check out what’s growing nearby right now.
10. Preserve it. Want to eat more locally, but love to eat strawberries year-round? Learn how to preserve fruits and vegetables so you can eat locally grown produce all year long (it’s bound to impress Grandma, too).
11. Grow it. You don’t need to live in the wild to grow your own fruits and veggies. Join a community garden, or, if you’re cramped for space, create a vertical garden right inside your window.
12. Get some community support. Not into the idea of growing your own? Consider joining a CSA (short for community supported agriculture), which allows you to reap the benefits of locally grown produce without getting your hands dirty.
Meat:
13. Eat less of it. Industrially farmed meat has the greatest impact of any food product on the environment. In addition to the tips outlined below, consider making meat less of a staple in your diet. Can’t give up the stuff? Try going meat-free for just one day per week (or one meal per week if you’re really attached).
14. You guessed it: buy local. We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again: buying local is a great way to cut down on the environmental impact of your food. Just imagine how much energy it would take to haul a side of beef from, say, New Zealand, in comparison to transporting it from the local butcher shop.
15. Go organic. When it comes to meat, the definition of “organic” changes a little. Obviously, chickens aren’t grown in the soil, nor are they (we hope!) conventionally grown with pesticides. Rather, organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and cannot be supplemented with antibiotics or growth hormones.
16. Be anti-antibiotics. It’s common practice these days to feed growth-producing antibiotics to animals raised for meat, but this results in health risks for the animals — and, by extension, the people who eat them.
17. Go out to pasture. Pasture-raised livestock make less of a negative environmental impact. They’re also treated more humanely than their industrially raised counterparts.
Seafood:
18. Look for the label. Figuring out how to buy sustainable seafood is tough: turns out “wild caught” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s environmentally friendly, after all, while some farmed fish are. The easiest way to sort through all the confusion is to look for the label of the Marine Stewardship Council, which guarantees that a product has successfully met requirements for sustainability.
19. Know your fish. Check out these guides to figure out which fish are least endangered and most likely to be farmed sustainably, and use them to guide your buying decisions.
20. Be a patriot. Buy Canadian caught or farmed fish. It’s as close as you can get to buying “local” when you live in a land-locked province, and it also means that the product has had the chance to be reviewed by the Marine Stewardship Council, so you have a better sense of the conditions under which the fish were caught.
21. Try something new. Instead of eating the ever-popular Alaskan salmon along with everybody else at the restaurant, expand your diet and distribute your impact by trying different varieties of fish. Check out these alternatives to some of our fishy favorites — you might even find a variety that you like more than tuna. In the process, you’ll reduce the risk of endangering key species.
Dairy:
22. Be hormone-free. (Wouldn’t that have made adolescence easier…) Just as livestock raised for consumption are often pumped full of antibiotics, dairy cows are often fed artificial hormones to up their milk production. This has big health impacts for the cows, the people who consume their milk and other dairy products, and the environment (manure lagoons sure don’t sound like a good thing to us). Industrial dairy production is also linked to massive greenhouse gas emissions. Luckily, hormone-free dairy products are readily available.
23. Surprise! Go local. As always when buying local, you’ll be reducing the distance that food must travel — and the energy it takes to do so — on its way to your plate.
24. Go organic. It’s better for the environment and for your body.
25. Cut back. The production of one pound of cheese might produce upwards of 11 lbs. of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activities and a big driver of climate change. As with meat, you can quickly lessen your environmental impact simply by eating less dairy. Bonus: eliminating common staples from your diet one or two days a week is a chance to experiment with fun new recipes.
At a restaurant:
26. Order from the tap. Cut down on packaging; ask for tap water instead of bottled. Likewise, save the beer bottle and order on tap.
27. Eat local. Just because you’re not at the farmer’s market doesn’t mean the market’s bounty isn’t available to you. More and more restaurants are incorporating locally sourced items into their menus.
28. Don’t be afraid to ask. There’s no shame in asking your server or a manager how your food was grown or processed (though it’s probably best not to take it to this extreme).
Eating at home:
29. Reduce waste. Use cloth napkins and real plates, bowls and utensils.
30. Turn waste into a resource. If you’ve got the inclination and a little bit of free time, give composting a try and turn food scraps into a resource that keeps on giving.
31. Revamp leftovers. Instead of dumping leftovers in the trash, turn them into new meals. It’ll reduce waste and also save on the energy it would have taken to cook a different meal the next day.
32. Double your recipes. Leftovers will last twice as long, and you’ll use less energy than you would if you cooked multiple meals.
33. Cook one local meal per week. Challenge yourself to cook one meal a week (or month) that is composed completely of local ingredients. Get some friends in on the action and revel in doing something good for your health and the health of the planet.

source: Time