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Old 01-11-2010, 09:06 AM   #1
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Chemicals sneaking into organic food

It gets confusing after awhile, but even if something is labeled organic, it could be that it really isn't. Here's what I know so far: BPA (Bisphenol A) is in the lining of many canned foods - even organic, and the little rings on home canning; organic crops can be contaminated, and crossbred by GMO foods, like corn crops; processed organic food can be labeled organic if it is mostly organic.

I'm not talking about saying it's organic, but still bad for you, like cookies. I mean actual chemicals and contaminated things being in the food!

Then there's bad things you can do at home: drink unfiltered water, use aluminum bakeware, store and cook in plastic...

I'm thinking about this, because I had been buying organic canned tomatoes, and now find that it's not a good idea. Is there more things I don't know about?

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Old 01-11-2010, 09:13 AM   #2
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Why is buying organic tomatoes not a good idea?
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:23 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by wcwendy View Post
Why is buying organic tomatoes not a good idea?
Well, it's just that they put the BPA in the lining of the can to help preserve it. I'm not sure why it is so vital, and they can't do something else. The only way I know around it is to buy jars, not the cans. I did freeze some last fall -in plastic - which probably has something wrong with it too. I dehydrated some too, but I never do enough.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:35 AM   #4
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Oh, I didn't know that you meant canned tomatoes.

I buy fresh or tomatoes in jars. I've quit buying things in aluminum cans, for the most part. When tomatoes are on a good sale I buy a box of them, process in the blender, then freeze in glass jars--in case you want another option/idea.

I keep intending to ask my ND about things leaching from Tupperware (the brand that I use) but haven't remembered to put it on my list. Tupperware says that things don't leach, but I don't know.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:39 AM   #5
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I have heard cold storage doesn't leach, but what about something acidy, like tomatoes?! When I freeze in jars, they somtimes break, and they take up more room. Sometimes this gets weary.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:41 AM   #6
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To prevent the jars from breaking, I fill part way then freeze. Then I'll process more tomatoes and dump onto the already frozen tomatoes. The half gallon jars seem to be thicker than the quart jars, and they haven't broken as easily, but you probably don't need 1/2 gallon pureed tomatoes at once, eh?
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Old 01-11-2010, 10:22 AM   #7
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Thanks for the tip Wendy. So you just puree the whole tomato raw? I thought you had to cook it a little first. I quarter my tomatoes, cook with onion and garlic until very soft, then strain through a food mill.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:04 AM   #8
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I know nothing about canning but wanted to "can" my own tomatoes in mason jars this summer (becuase of hte Bpa in the cans........why not can and store rather than freeze? Again, I'm ignorant on the subject.

Thanks in advance Wendy!
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:22 AM   #9
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I know nothing about canning but wanted to "can" my own tomatoes in mason jars this summer (becuase of hte Bpa in the cans........why not can and store rather than freeze? Again, I'm ignorant on the subject.

Thanks in advance Wendy!
I haven't looked into what's in the lids for canning, so I have no reason to think that canning isn't OK, so that's not why I didn't can. (In case you were wondering. ) I usually do can, but for some reason I was really busy this year.

I started freezing tomatoes because every week I'd have extra tomatoes from my CSA share. I'd puree them, and add them to a jar in the freezer until the jar was full. I guess that I just got into the habit of freezing them, rather than canning them. Now that my freezer is full of pork and beef, though, I'll have to start canning, again.
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:10 PM   #10
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I've heard that eden brand does not- and never has used- BPA in their cans.

That said I too am trying to reduce my use of cans. But, I live in a smallish apt and don't have a big freezer, so I am just extremely limited on how much I can freeze. And canning w.out sugar-- that is hard! (hardly worth it?)

Next time we move somewhere we'll be staying a while, I plan to get a small chest freezer so I can freeze my own veggies, fruits and sauces when they are in season and can be bought in larger amounts. Also prepared food. But life isn't like that right now.

I have been freezing beans and soups in one-meal-sized portions.

As for your other concerns... well, organic certification refers to the growing and processing, not to things like contamination of the soil. So, sure, its not a guarantee of things being utterly pure and perfect. I figure its probably better (most of the time) than conventional, all other things equal. I prefer to buy local when I can, and I do a CSA and farmers markets. But I live in a place where I can do that year round. And I tend to believe a grower when s/he says right to my face "we don't spray" or "we only use compost for fertilizer" but of course they could be lying.
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:20 PM   #11
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emmaegbert, excluding fruit and jam, I don't add sugar to things that I can. You can can ( That always sounds funny to me! ) soups, beans, meats--seasoned or not, broth, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, all kinds of things w/o sugar. Hope that gives you some ideas for when you want them.

Our local CSA has their soil tested at least yearly to be certified organic.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:57 PM   #12
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The organic certifying agencies do in fact go to the site and test the soil. I worked for a USDA Certified Organic Apple Farm and the certification process is efficient. Here's an explanation from the EWG
Quote:
Philadelphia Inquirer, Marilynn Marter
Published September 8, 2004

What makes some fruits and vegetables organic and why bother seeking them out? Are they really better for you?

Federal regulations define "certified organic" foods as those produced without pesticides, growth hormones, or other chemical additives. The seeds must be organic. The soil in which they are grown must be free of pesticide and chemical treatments for at least three years.

Some farmers are complying with the record-keeping and other federal procedures required to label their meats and produce as certified organic, but the rules, which took effect two years ago, have sent others screaming into retirement. More than a few small growers have continued to plant but stopped calling their chemical-free crops - long certified in accord with state regulations - organic.

Few conventionally grown crops exceed the U.S. Department of Agriculture's tolerance levels for chemical residues, but some contain much higher amounts than others.

And some experts insist there is no "acceptable level" of the chemicals, some of which may cause cancer or neurological damage, disrupt hormones, and linger in the environment, affecting generations to come.

Peaches, strawberries, apples and spinach lead a "dirty dozen" list of the most heavily pesticide-tainted produce, based on studies by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based consumer-advocacy organization. (See the full list above.)

Meanwhile, a review of USDA and California Department of Agriculture tests on 94,000 samples of more than 20 major crops was reported in the Food Additives and Contaminants Journal in 2002. It showed that 73 percent of conventional produce had pesticide residues. Residues of nine pesticides were found in samples of peaches and raspberries, eight in strawberries and apples.

And they don't just wash off. Though the USDA assures that properly washing or peeling produce eliminates or greatly reduces most residues, some are absorbed into foods.

Residues were found in only 23 percent of the organic items. (Organics accounted for 2 percent of the tested items.)

Why would organic produce have residues? Consider how many pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, not to mention waste and other pollutants, have been loosed on the environment over the last 50 years. Residues from them can blow onto organic fields or come from runoff from conventionally farmed land nearby.

Though DDT has been banned for agricultural use in the United States since 1972, and worldwide since the mid-'80s, traces of the pesticide still turn up in some crops. Studies of animals exposed to DDT - which accrues in the food chain - have shown decreased fertility, reproductive abnormalities, and higher than normal cancer rates.

Excluding persistent chemicals no longer in use, 13 percent of the organic produce tested positive for low levels of other residues.

The degree of danger of dietary exposure to pesticides is a hot topic of debate.

Rutgers University food scientist Joseph D. Rosen organized a symposium that addressed the question "Is organic food healthier than conventional food?" and related issues on Aug. 23 at the 228th American Chemical Society National Meeting at the Marriott Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown.

Rosen contended that, while many Americans believe organic food is better for them than conventional fare, scientific evidence does not support that belief.

Yet studies, including at least one at Rutgers, have reported that foods grown organically are more nutritious. The Rutgers study showed that organics have, on average, 87 percent more minerals than conventionally grown crops. Organic tomatoes were found to contain five times more calcium than conventional tomatoes.

There are arguments on both sides, but little that is conclusive enough to sway the thinking of either camp.

In Britain, a recent heated if humorous exchange centered on the safety of organics, with Edinburgh University professor Anthony Trewavas claiming that organics are unsafe because natural and biological pesticides and fertilizers (including animal waste) are not held to the same standards and safety margins as their chemical counterparts.

Ann Karlen, who runs the Fair Food farm stand in the Reading Terminal Market's Center Court, has a different perspective.

"People are becoming more concerned with 'local' than with 'organic,' " she said. Fair Food promotes direct marketing by area farmers to restaurants, stores and consumers.

In the end, whatever your opinion on residues, fewer of them must equal less potential risk.

For more information on organic farming, visit the USDA National Organic Program and farming site, www.ams.usda.gov/nop.

For more on pesticide residues, visit the Environmental Working Group Web sites, EWG Home | Environmental Working Group and EWG's FoodNews :: Shopper's Guide to Pesticides.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:50 PM   #13
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I've heard that eden brand does not- and never has used- BPA in their cans.
As far as I know they are the only brand not to use BPA in their cans.

I've stopped buying tomatoes in cans because of this. I plan to buy tomatoes in glass jars or use Eden brand when I need some.
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Old 01-13-2010, 08:00 AM   #14
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As far as I know they are the only brand not to use BPA in their cans.

I've stopped buying tomatoes in cans because of this. I plan to buy tomatoes in glass jars or use Eden brand when I need some.
Their beans are okay, but not the tomatoes.
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Old 01-13-2010, 08:13 AM   #15
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I found this on the Ball/Kerr website:

Quote:
Do any of the Ball or Kerr home preserving products contain bisphenol A (BPA)?

Ball Plastic Freezer Jars and Freezer Storage Containers...
Jarden Home Brands knows that product quality and safety play important roles in your purchasing decisions. So, we understand your concern regarding recent reports from Canada about Bisphenol-A (BPA) found in some plastic food contact products. Bisphenol-A is a synthetic chemical compound primarily used to make polycarbonate plastic containers. Please be assured that plastic food storage containers (freezer containers/freezer jars) and plastic food contact articles (cutlery, straws, serving/canning utensils and canning storage caps) marketed by Jarden Home Brands and as provided to our private label companies do not contain Bisphenol-A (BPA).

Our in-house quality experts set manufacturing specifications in compliance with numerous industry government standards: FFDCA, FDA, RCRA, DOT and others. Our experts implement rigorous measures to ensure products are safe for their intended use, and ongoing audits help us maintain compliance standards.

Ball and Kerr Home Canning Lids...
Jarden Home Brands manufacturer of home canning lids: Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest, and Bernardin brands follow the same rigorous FDA standards used by the commercial food packaging industry. Like the majority of commercial food packagers using glass jars with metal closures and metal sanitary cans, the coating on our home canning lids is designed to protect the metal from reacting with the food it contains. A small amount of Bisphenol A is present in the coating. The FDA does not limit Bisphenol A in commercially packaged foods, and is aligned with the international scientific community’s position that a small amount of Bisphenol A in contact with “canned foods” is not a health concern for the general public.
The first paragraph assures us there is no BPA in their containers and food contact items, like straws. But the last paragraph says they do have BPA in the lids to protect the food from the metal. I would guess that the old fashioned rubber gasket canning jars would be best.
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Old 01-13-2010, 08:24 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by wcwendy View Post
emmaegbert, excluding fruit and jam, I don't add sugar to things that I can. You can can ( That always sounds funny to me! ) soups, beans, meats--seasoned or not, broth, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, all kinds of things w/o sugar. Hope that gives you some ideas for when you want them.

Our local CSA has their soil tested at least yearly to be certified organic.
thanks yes, that is a good reminder. Do you use a pressure canner for that or regular stovetop?

Its nice your CSA has their soil tested! I do not believe that is a requirement for USDA certification. Our CSA has been an organic farm for over 30 years, I am not too worried about it. From talking with farmers in the past, I understand its 3 years in organic cultivation for cert, so, if it had been a heavily sprayed fruit orchard for 30years before that... anyway, I feel sure that it is better for me and my kids, the soil, water, and various animals, as well as farmers and their workers, to avoid exposure to poisons.
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:12 PM   #17
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thanks yes, that is a good reminder. Do you use a pressure canner for that or regular stovetop?
Pickled vegetables can be processed in a water bath (don't need a pressure canner), but the other things need a pressure canner.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:57 AM   #18
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I'm not being deliberately dense or provoking, but please, what is wrong with food grade plastic?
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:46 AM   #19
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I'm not being deliberately dense or provoking, but please, what is wrong with food grade plastic?
A quick search on google can answer that for you. Basically, there are several different types of food grade plastic, with some being worse than others. It just seems that so often we hear that such-and-such product is okay, then several years later find that it isn't. Right now there is a lot of concern of BPA's (Bisphenol A). Personally, I've decided to try to phase plastics out of my life as much as possible.
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:53 AM   #20
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A quick search on google can answer that for you. Basically, there are several different types of food grade plastic, with some being worse than others. It just seems that so often we hear that such-and-such product is okay, then several years later find that it isn't. Right now there is a lot of concern of BPA's (Bisphenol A). Personally, I've decided to try to phase plastics out of my life as much as possible.
Thanks, Criosa. I googled before posting my question but I didn't find anything that seemed terribly conclusive. A lot of 'it could be construed' and 'it would seem' and 'research indicates' but nothing definite.

Again, thank you.
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:52 AM   #21
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Their beans are okay, but not the tomatoes.
Yep. They don't have BPA in the lining for beans but do for the tomatoes.

I buy organic tomato paste and strained tomatoes in glass (bionature brand).

Pomi has tomatoes in aseptic packaging, which supposedly usually doesn't have BPA, but I have a hard time getting that 100% confirmed, so I haven't been using them.
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Old 01-15-2010, 10:55 AM   #22
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Thanks, Criosa. I googled before posting my question but I didn't find anything that seemed terribly conclusive. A lot of 'it could be construed' and 'it would seem' and 'research indicates' but nothing definite.

Again, thank you.
These chemicals are stored in our adipose tissue and can mimic estrogens causing havoc in many ways.

It is also implicated in diabetes. Here is a good article for you referenced through the EWG Home | Environmental Working Group
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:25 PM   #23
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Yep. They don't have BPA in the lining for beans but do for the tomatoes.

I buy organic tomato paste and strained tomatoes in glass (bionature brand).

Pomi has tomatoes in aseptic packaging, which supposedly usually doesn't have BPA, but I have a hard time getting that 100% confirmed, so I haven't been using them.
Did I read right..... they have BPA in the tomatoe cans???? I wonder why???

Vicki
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:43 PM   #24
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These chemicals are stored in our adipose tissue and can mimic estrogens causing havoc in many ways.

It is also implicated in diabetes. Here is a good article for you referenced through the EWG Home | Environmental Working Group

Jeez Louise! That's one hell of a website!

Thanks, Fawn.
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Old 01-16-2010, 06:38 PM   #25
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Did I read right..... they have BPA in the tomatoe cans???? I wonder why???

Vicki
It has to do with the acidity of tomatoes interacting with the can...so they currently line with BPA as a form of plastic to prevent the acidity from corroding the can...at least, that's what I've understood the main issue to be.
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Old 01-17-2010, 05:30 AM   #26
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I have yet to find tomatoes in jars. They are always in cans, including sauce and paste. Except things like spaghetti sauce and salsa. I don't live close to a Whole Foods or Trader Joes either (200 miles from closest) if those chains carry such items. There is a health food store that I frequent and they carry Muir Glen and Eden as well.
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