Plastic and organics


I work very hard at doing the best I can to make sure what we eat is as free as possible from, well, the myriad of GKW (God knows What) might be in it.  This could include additives, chemicals, colors, how it’s filtered and list goes on.  Not only do I have to check the product, now I have to check the packaging.  BPA, aluminum, PVC, phthalate, leaches this and that, into the food, into the environment, the water, into us—-.   Awareness can be such a time consuming drag.  However, it is much less of a drag than developing some life threatening disease from the above

In this case it was ketchup.  I have not been able to find a good/great recipe (read: that kids like).  Perhaps I should just keep it that way and the weaning process could start.  I had gotten a bottle of Muir Glen Organic Ketchup that disappeared pretty fast.  In the process of rinsing for the sake of recycle, I arbitrarily looked at the plastic “score” on the bottom of the bottle assuming since it was an organic product it would be packaged in the best/safest manner possible.  I was amazed to see a 7 in the nifty little triangle.  A rating of seven is not one I see often and so I did a little research.  It seems to be the catch all category for Polycarbonate, the nasty BPA stuff, to the newer, safer biodegradable, bio based plastics.   Great.  So once again, for the lowly consumer, maximum confusion.  It’s not enough that putting an acidic food in anything that it can react to is bad enough, but let’s stir in a healthy product (in theory) and unknown potential contaminant (the packaging). You would think that if you are going to the expensive of producing an organic product, you would follow through on the packaging to make it also as safe as possible.   It appears that Muir Glen is doing a great job in the canned tomato arena by switching to non BPA lined cans so you would hope that the number 7 plastic they are using is one of the “safe” ones.   

I checked the other organic offerings on the shelf as follows;

  • Annies                                 24oz       $3.77 in plastic #1             .15 per oz
  • Organicville                         24oz       $4.57 in plastic #1             .19 “
  • Woodstock Farms            32oz       $5.28 in plastic #1             .14 “
  • Schumans                           30 oz      $4.50 in GLASS                   .15 “
  • Heinz                                     15oz       $2.59 in plastic #1             .17 “
  • Muir Glen                            24oz       $2.99 in plastic #7             .12 “

Looks to me like the glass jar is the way to go, not even being the most expensive, which is what I would have expected since only one product was in glass.  Just makes you go hummmmm.  For a comparison, Heinz has a new product “Simply Heinz” that has no high fructose corn syrup as the big selling point, 32oz, $1.99 in a #1 at a mere $.06 per oz. 

So I guess the bottom line is, the bottom line.  Plastic is cheaper apparently.  And it is all about making a buck or lots of bucks whenever possible and damn the consequences if you even know what they are or not.   From the consumer standpoint, plastic has those convenient easy squirt/pour openings, very nice, bottle doesn’t break as easily when mishandled, etc.   It’s so easy——— the American way it seems. 

I have become far less interested in “convenience” and far more interested in health.  I have absolutely no interest in absorbing any more toxins if I can avoid them.   Glass does not leach.   I keep glass jars for storage and have been known to buy items for the jar not the contents.  Canning jars are great storage and come in all shapes and sizes.  You can buy lids for them, granted they are plastic but probably aren’t going to touch the food.   I hate buying and throwing away plastic sandwich bags so I have recently gotten reusable, washable cloth sandwich bags, which work great.  Got some stainless steel drinking straws that are quite novel.   Glass and stainless steel water bottles.   All those used plastic containers with or without cracking lids that never match, are wonderful for the garage storage needs.   Rusting nuts and bolts, meet leachy plastic, no one gets hurt.

The fact of the matter is, for me, plastic as storage for food is not a good choice.  I have no interest in being some chemical company’s free research/science experiment because they can put stuff in containers that they have no real idea what the long term effects are, might or will be to my body.  I read where the Romans were poisoning themselves over years via lead cooking containers,  “eating themselves mad”.  These substances are in almost everything to some extent and the amount of water consumed that is in plastic is dumbfounding.  Hopefully, not maddeningly so.    

There seems to be hope.  The consumer needs to recognize they hold the ultimate power, the way you spend your dollar.  If you won’t buy it, why make it?   Look at Heinz, producing a product without HFC.  They wouldn’t do that on a whim.  Someone was paying attention to what the consumer was saying with their money.  Maybe they have folks in the stores watching all those consumers reading labels and putting products back, looking for something better.  Say more by saying “no more”.  It works.


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1 Response to Plastic and organics

  1. Orazio
    Twitter: okHUdOurSHjD

    Being a bit of a foodie, and vaihng lived on the stuff a bit when with my last gal, I think the stuff is everything proponents say it isn’t. They suggest it is healthier, better for the environment, makes for better farmers and farming practices, and such. As some of your commenters have noted, it leads to larger farms yielding less product. It also causes nearby farms to use more pesticides (here in the states) due to contamination issues. And often, organic farmers are finally allowed to use just as bad or worse chemicals to control severe pests (which invade often due to trying to use nothing but extra crop as a “shield”). Beyond that, a professor (at Berkley no less) realized that most of the “residue” on normal crops will most likely be on “organic” crops as well. That residue is most likely a native aspect of most produce.For my part, it is simple. I am in food for taste. If the organic produce and the non-organic produce cost the same or very close, I pick whichever is freshest. Freshness determines nutritive and taste values more than any other single variant. However, I lean toward non-organic, all else being equal. I believe organic farming, on any scale, is detrimental to the overall health of produce production in that it will retard truly good farming practices and, if implemented too widely, will leave us without good produce in the winter months (since it is quite often and by necessity locally grown, or more so). Oh, the other problem with organic, that I see, is that they often use seed that has not been tried in the mass market. The potential for allergic reaction is increased in the broader markets.But usually, it is simply too expensive! And pshah on organic meat and milk. Have you looked at the ridicules prices on those? I’ll stick to local non-organic. There is a big thing, too, in that community, about being superior people for eating superior food. I see it, in the most part, as the new king’s clothing. The notion is foolish. Farmer’s markets are good enough, though I avoid organic there too, for price reasons and just for the principle of the snobbish thing too.

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