In this section of Seattle Organic Restaurants I’m going to talk about hams of canned food. No logical, reasonable person would suggest that canned foods and canned fruits and vegetables are as good or better than fresh foods, vegetables, and fruits. It is obvious that fresh is good and retains most of its nutrients. This much, almost no one argues with. But the big question is how bad canned products are, really? Well the answer might surprise you or not.
1. Bisphenol or BPA
The most worrisome of all, among canned foods that can harm you, is plastic contaminants in our canned goods. Most canned food these days have a plastic coating inside the can to supposedly keep the food, vegetables, and fruits – fresh. Well, it may keep them more fresh that otherwise without it being stored up inside a metal object, but this comes at the expense of harming you. The inner plastic lining is poisonous at small measures, although FDA tells us that the small amounts should not worry us too much. Well this plastic coating is Bisphenol or BPA for short and it is harmful, first because humans are not suppose to eat plastic material made from crude oil and second because FDA should be honest and tell people the truth rather than serve the interests of big corporations that give it large sums of money through back channel donations and hidden funds through partner organizations.
BPA kills rats in laboratories even at smaller portions, like 1,000 times less than what an average American consumes per meal. I hope soon FDA would do a U-turn on this and come clean and tell people about the harm to humans caused by BPA like they do periodically about drugs which they have claimed for decades to be safe, only to tell us now that they were not safe. I just hope it does not take decades before they try to protect the public against BPA. BPA is a toxic chemical that causes hormone imbalances and wide variety of health issues ranging from hypertension, aggression, obesity to cancer and heart disease. Based on FDA 17% of the American diet comes from canned foods yet there are no regulation or safety standards regarding the amount of BPA in canned foods. A study by Environmental Working Group shows that more than 50% of cans with brand names have toxic BPA in them.
2. Imported Canned Food
Imported Canned Food is even worse than American Canned Food. In many countries where canned food is cheaper than Europe, Canada and USA, American food corporations are more and more importing to make higher profits, the canned food is even less nutritious than their counterparts in Europe and North America. First the foods are picked when they are not ripe and have 80% less nutrients than a fully ripe fruits and vegetables. Second, the facilities are not as hygienic and inspected on a regular basis as their counterparts in Europe and North America and hence have the cause of a few incidences of outbreaks in the last 20 years, like the famous incident regarding canned green beans from Brazil or the salmonella outbreak from sprouts from Columbia. Less than 2% of canned foods are inspected by FDA or Home Land security or any other organization (e.g. EPA for environmental monitoring). So I would avoid canned food if at all possible. Instead I would recommend, at the least, try glass jars instead of cans for stored foods.
3. Leaking. Aluminum leaks
Just as Aluminum pots and pans leak, so do aluminum cans. In fact, what most people are unaware of is that most often foods are put into aluminum cans, then seals, and then cooked, supposedly retain the freshness. Well, it will certainly retain the aluminum free radicals hanging around after heating and contaminating the contents.
Over a period of time Aluminum accumulation in body can cause memory problem like Alzheimer’s. More than 5,000 million pounds of aluminum is used every year for making food cans. Aluminum cans have several advantages for the producer including light weight, compact packaging and lower price. Most canned foods like soups, vegetables, chicken or beef broth and tomato sauces are made of aluminum because it’s more economical.
Some believe that the plastic lining of the aluminum cans are supposed to prevent corrosion and contaminating food with aluminum. But the reality is that most of the time these plastic liners can’t completely protect food against aluminum since cans leak aluminum when heated and while they are sealed – they will contaminate food.
The lovely, no so friendly, preservatives. They are referred to in a dozen different names, and every few months, a new name is established for the same few ingredients that are mixed up to come up with friendly-sounding names. But, the fact is that if it smells like manure, looks like manure, tastes like manure – it is most certainly manure.
These preservatives are kept in state of non-compounding to other molecules with the, yes you guessed it, SALT. Extensive amount of sodium (salt) is used to keep the preservatives in canned food from rotting so that it can keep the food from rotting. Lovely. FDA responds to all this by simply issued a statement, “… there has been no proof that these preservatives would cause major damage to human cells or that they are harmful to mass public”. My interpretation of this is this, “… these preservatives are not drastically harmful towards healthy people, but they may be harmful to pregnant women, babies, children, elderly, or anyone that is suffering from a chronic disease”. That’s just my interpretation.
5. Low level food quality
Let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that if the fruits and vegetables and other ingredients are of high quality, they will be sold fresh and for the highest price possible for a maximum of profit by the distributors.
Now if the quality of the ingredients are not that great or the fruits and vegetables look old and stale or not so healthy, then they will be hidden from the eyes of supermarket shoppers and be forced into a can along with other such low quality food, cooked up in a mass oven while still inside the can and then shipped all over the world and sold may be one or two years later from when they were picked and were prepared. Don’t expect the ingredients inside your canned foods to be of high quality. If you do, then you could buy the London Bridge and thinking that it is the Tower of London Bridge – and the two cannot be more different than one another.
The reality is that your can of pinto beans, tuna or vegetable juice could put your health at risk. 17% of the American diet comes from canned food, is it worth it to contaminate your daily grains, protein or vegetables with aluminum and BPA? FDA has approved aluminum food packaging but as explained there is health risk associated with canned food.
So what should you do?
Completely eliminate canned foods and if you are looking for your favorite tomato sauce use the ones in glass jars. Don’t consume vegetables or grains in cans, simply buy fresh ones. The risk of developing many chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, nervous system disorder and Alzheimer’s goes down by consuming fresh foods that do not have any packaging.