BPA is not our friend

When The Boy was a baby, I was frustrated that I couldn’t find BPA-free bottles. I wasn’t entirely certain why I wanted bottles that were BPA-free; I just knew that the chemical had been in the news quite a bit and undergoing quite a few tests.

It wasn’t long after The Boy started eating solids that I discovered that BPA was in all of our canned goods, too. I made most of The Boy’s food, but I did find it easier to open a can of peas and strain them than to cook peas myself. Needless to say, once I learned that fact about BPA in canned foods, The Boy didn’t get peas again until he was older.

Next to go were the canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes, it turns out, have the highest concentration of BPA because the tomatoes themselves leech the chemical from the can’s lining. (Yikes!) After some research, I switched to Pomi tomatoes in tetra packs. The packaging is BPA-free and I like to have shelf stable tomatoes on hand, so I was pleased that my local grocery store carried this. Yes, it’s a bit pricier, but I’d rather remain BPA-free.

My pantry’s content migration to tetra packs from cans was well underway. I even switched to tetra-packed tuna. Yes, I was going to make this work.

Late last year, the results of another study were released, indicating that people who ate canned soup every day for a week had higher levels of BPA in their systems than those who ate “fresh soup” (though I’m not clear what, exactly, that means). All the same, it was disturbing, and, once again, I began buying soup in tetra packs instead of cans. Again, the tetra packs are more expensive, but they’re BPA-free, and that puts me at ease.

Somewhat.

Well, today I read that BPA is in our receipts – those annoying pieces of paper that we seem forced to receive from different merchants. Wendy’s even tucks the receipt into your bag when you go through the drive-through (though, really, I know I shouldn’t be eating anything from Wendy’s in the first place). This doesn’t sound like it should be a big deal except BPA can get onto our hands and into our systems that way. And even if you wash your hands before you eat, there’s a chance there may be some BPA in those recycled towels you’re using to dry your hands.

It’s enough to make my head spin.

So what does all of this mean? Why should I care about BPA? I mean, it’s not like any studies have pinpointed what kind of damage BPA can do to our system; only that it’s not good.

Well, all that changed when I read that a new study suggests obesity and diabetes may be linked to the ingestion of BPA. Apparently, there is some evidence that BPA can scramble hormone receptors, even doubling the amount of insulin the body needs to break down food.

It makes sense, right? Increased use of BPA worldwide; global increase in diabetes cases over the same time period. BPA may not be the singular cause of the increase in obesity and diabetes, but it does give one pause.

And it’s not new news. Apparently, a 2008 study by the American Medical Association indicated that adults with higher BPA in their systems had higher risks for heart disease and diabetes. But, of course, the American Chemistry Council refutes this.

So, how long does BPA stay in the body? I mean, is it too late for me to reverse the damage I’ve inadvertently done to my little boy by feeding him canned peas?

Well, no one really knows. But the National Resources Defense Council released a report indicating that freshly prepared meals stored in glass or stainless steel containers (and not microwaved in plastic containers) would significantly reduce the levels of BPA in the body. So it appears there’s hope.

But now it looks like it’s time to completely switch to fresh (or frozen) veggies and ditch the plastic containers. And I supposed I should stick with dried legumes, too.

It’s a sad sign of the times when simply buying food is a complicated endeavor.

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