Thursday, November 6, 2008

Q & A and Styrene

I will address questions left as comments in blog posts so that people can all read what the questions and answers are without having to search through all blog posts and look at comments. So here goes:

Sherri asks "My kids have stainless steel thermos drinking containers (but they have a silicone straw). A lot of the "safer" drinking containers do. What about silicone?Also, what do you use for everyday drinking containers for your kids (like at mealtimes)? My husband and I use glass, but we still have the cheap Ikea plastic for the kiddos. Any recommendations or ideas?"

Answer: I would stay far away from baking or heating anything with silicone. However, I am not really sure what to think about silicone in straws. The exposure is relatively small, i.e. only when sipping and the beverages are usually cool so I would think it is OK. I am waiting for my stainless steel Kleen Kanteens to come in from REI so at mealtimes when I can monitor drinking I use the little coffee/tea cups that came with my Corelle set. I always wondered what I would do with all those little cups, glad I didn't throw them out now! I am hoping since they are Corelle they too with be break resistant. But, when the kids are out and about, I am resorting to the same old plastic sippy cups for now.

Laurie asks: "this might be a dumb question but if something is labeled non stick then does it automatically contain tephlon?"

Answer: There is no such thing as a dumb question as long as you learn something from it. The research is muddy on this one. Calphelon supposedly has some annodized cookware that is "dipped" in a bath that charges the particles somehow, blah blah blah. It is my guess that most items that claim they are non-stick use a form of PTFE. Teflon is a brand name (from DuPont) and so it would be my guess that other cookware companies want to get in on the money of the non-stick business and have their own terms for non-stick, most of which probably represent some form of Teflon, maybe just a different name. I would stick with using lower heat and a little oil to achieve the non-stick process naturally. Cooking with Ghee is excellent for eggs, it has the buttery taste without casein and really makes the eggs not stick to the pan. It is GFCF compliant and can be found at Sprouts and Whole Foods. It is clarified butter and has tons of good fats for brain development. But, reducing the temp will help a lot too. I will miss my Teflon though but I read years ago about the toxic vapors from Teflon killing people's pet birds. You think that would have made me stay away years ago....

Now on to Styrofoam and Styrene: When you are out shopping, try and avoid buying meats wrapped in those styrofoam containers that are shrink wrapped. They usually have those little pads under the meat too. Styrofoam is a polymer of Styrene. Styrene is made from and may still contain Benzene. A note about Benzene, it is a super bad carcinogen (which is a cancer causing agent) and from what I understand is not excreted very easily. And, if you are a fan of sodas, check your label carefully. I checked a Sprite can, it contains Sodium Benzoate and Citric Acid. Those two chemicals create Benzene, another reason to stay away from sodas. Sodium Benzoate also has the same reaction with asorbic acid (vitamin c) which is also added to sodas depending on the type. So, if you see Sodium Benzoate with either citric acid or asorbic acid, run the other way. Here is a link to an article discussing the soda issue: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Science-Nutrition/FDA-re-opens-probe-into-benzene-contamination-of-soft-drinks

I was looking at the fresh, refridgerated sauerkraut at Sprouts the other day and saw one brand uses sodium benzoate as a preservative, so much for fresh. Avoid these preservatives as much as possible.

Back to syrofoam. Styrene monomers are still present in styrofoam and are found in 100% of human samples tested by the EPA. Absorption of styrene is increased by higher fat content of the food (i.e. meat which contains fat that sits on this container and soaks in all the chemicals which you then eat). Styrene mimics estrogen and possibly thyroid hormones and disrupts hormone functions. It is also neurotoxic.

Go to the meat counter and ask for the cuts of meat you want and ask them to wrap it in butcher paper. One note, I stood in the butcher counter line at Sprouts and 1) I flashed back to I love Lucy when she had all that meat and put it in a baby carriage and was trying to sell it, do you remember that episode? and 2) As I looked at all of the "fresh" meats, I think I saw those little pads that are in the styrofoam containers under the meats. I cannot locate in my notes what was bad about those little pads, and maybe it was just that they are put in place so that the meat would not absorb the styrene from the styrofoam. So maybe nothing is wrong with them but I cannot remember, I just seem to remember that they weren't that great either. Anyways, the point is, when you can, request fresh meat from the counter and have them wrap it in butcher paper.

Remember to choose organic meats, the pesticides are much more concentrated in meat and so you get so many when you eat non-organic meats. If you want to try and make a big impact, starting with organic meats, dairy and eggs is a good place. Organic beings accumulate more toxins in our tissues than fruits and veggies do so it is worth it to go organic on meats and animal derivatives.

One disclaimer. I hope no one feels that I am "preaching" on this blog. It is more of a regurgitation really. Yes, I have been at this for a while now but I am constantly learning too. If I were perfect I wouldn't still be carrying around this extra weight since becoming a mom. I would never eat off of plastic, would never eat out and would prepare organic culinary delights for my family nightly. But I don't always because I am still trying to make these hard changes too. And even though this is a lot of info and more will be coming, it is meant in the vein of "we can make these changes slowly!!". I hope you do not get discouraged. I took years to learn much of what I have posted and yet many of you are getting a crash course so it will seem overwhelming. And even though I learned this stuff over the years, even I have not implemented it all, especially for myself. I am much more conscious about what my kids are exposed to and yet not always for myself (i.e. safer shampoos, soaps and lotions). Don't think you have to change everything at once. It will drive you mad. But know this data is out there, figure out what is your biggest toxic load (pesticide use around the home, chemicals used for cleaning, non-organic food, plastics, etc) and just start there. I think what is going into your body is probably most important. I will be getting to cleaners and more on lotions, soaps, etc. in later blogs. But, just do what you can and know each step you make is helping you and your family, and that is the goal, progress, not perfection!!

10 comments:

Sherri said...

Thanks, Terri. I agree with you that just doing a little bit at a time is the way to go. I know I have so far to go, and it can seem overwhelming when I really think about it. But I believe as moms we can feel better about each little step we take in a healthier direction.

Eric said...

I started reading your blog tday after pouring a cup of coffee into a styrofoam cup. I dumped it! I just want to publicly say that i am proud to be your husband and thank you for putting our family on a more healthy path.

Laurie said...

Thanks for the info Terri. I actually have that Calphalon pot, I was hoping it would be okay. Hmmmm....I hadn't even thought about eggs - I think everyone would need the egg tutorial if we had to make them without nonstick!! So much to think about, but I agree with babysteps, little choices here and there can make a big difference overall. Thanks again.

oaklandlawyer said...

Hi there. Just wanted to add my 2 cents. Previously, I worked at Sur La Table, and through them got a lot of cooking education particularly on products. So I thought I would just share this about the Calphalon. There are two versions, the non-stick which is covered with Teflon (or it's equivalent); there is also the non-stick, which is more acurately called stick resistant, which is an iodized aluminum. That's the one with the electronic bath. That product doesn't contain a Teflon cooking surface, and if you aren't careful, things will actually stick to it like any other pan. Of course, there are different opinions on cooking on alumninum or not, but we will leave that for another post. Personally, I love my All Clad and my stainless lined copper pots and threw out my Calphalon, when I learned that it was only stick resistant and a lot of work to clean.

Mary said...

I loved reading this post. thanks for all your wonderful info, you are so dang smart, wish i had your brain! Thanks sooo much, you are an amazing mom and how blessed your children are to have you.

M and Ems Momma said...

I know Sherri, it can seem overwhelming, but you are right, each small step is what matters.

M and Ems Momma said...

Hi Laurie! Try Ghee, you will never want to make eggs without it again, lol.

M and Ems Momma said...

Thanks Honey! I love you!

M and Ems Momma said...

Aww, thanks Mary! You are so sweet to say those things....sometimes I think my head is going to explode. But don't ask me my middle name, I think I lost a lot of other, less used data in the process of learning all this new stuff! :)

M and Ems Momma said...

Thanks Elan, LOVE the info woman!!!