Health Habits: Cut the wrap

Part of taking care of our health and our bodies is taking care of the environment in which we grow our food. The quality of our food is dependent on the health of the soil that it grew from. The chemical compounds that leach into the soil from landfills, water runoff, spraying and various other vectors eventually trickle into the food system. Plastics and food packaging are the biggest contributors to soil contamination and have been found to leach into our food. If you did not know already, plastics can be carcinogenic. The reason why we should be concerned about plastics and our food is because plastic compounds have been found to alter hormones and have other health effects. Hormones have a very important role in carrying messages throughout the body. Without them our bodily functions affecting metabolism and growth malfunction. 

To reduce our exposure to possibly harmful compounds we can change the packaging and wrappers used on our food or purchase foods without plastics.  Plastic wrap is kitchen essential for many and for some, a staple.  It does come in handy, but do we realize the consequences on the environment and ultimately our health? Plastic wrap is unfortunately not on the recyclable plastics list because it gets caught up in recycling machinery.  New alternatives for plastic wrap include beeswax wraps, which are washable, reusable, and revivable. Another option is using glass containers or jars to store leftovers or half of an onion you chopped. There are also silicon reusable pouches and containers or the plate over bowl method. These are some things we can use instead of plastics, but when we ultimately cannot avoid plastic be sure to recycle. 

To create a change in the packaging industry, consumers can start with purchasing items that are in glass or in stand alone form. Instead of purchasing packaged pre-cut fruit and vegetables, buying whole fruit and vegetables to process we will help reduce plastics in landfills. Reusable mesh produce bags are great options for purchasing produce without using the unrecyclable thin plastic bags provided in the produce department. When the demand for something changes, it is noted prompting the industry to make changes to meet the consumer demands. 

This is barely touching the tip of the iceberg, but I strongly encourage you to become educated and informed consumers and advocates for your health.  You can stay on top of trending health concerns by following reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Agriculture.  Check out Foodprint.org for information on how your food impacts the environment, the welfare of animals, food farmers and public health. Plastics are a trending concern for public health, the welfare of animals and food farmers, so I highly recommend that you read some information from these sources to become knowledgeable consumers.

This week’s health habit: Try a plastic wrap alternative or read about the impact of plastics on health. 

 

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