BPA, bisphenol A, is a synthetic estrogen and a dangerous chemical found in the epoxy coatings of canned foods and in plastic bottles. It has been linked to possible health effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.
Like many of you, I use canned tomato products. Lately, I have been using exclusively Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand tomato products, because they are organic and reasonably priced. But are their cans BPA-free? I did some research on the Internet and found several articles saying their cans were BPA-free. I wanted to be absolutely sure, so I contacted Costco myself. To my surprise, I got received an email response very quickly from Jason B. of the Member Service Center. He said, “Yes, the cans used for our Kirkland Signature brand tomato products are indeed BPA free cans.”
This is so good for me, but what about the people who are not members of Costco? So I went to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website, and found several commonly found brands that are “BPA-Free Brands.” Some of these brands are Health Valley Organic, Amy’s, Muir Glen, Sprouts Farmers Market and Tyson. For their complete list, please go to their website, EWG.com. I hope that some of you find this helpful!
Since my cooking style is simple and healthy, it is so important to me that I use the best and freshest ingredients whenever possible, because I use relatively few items. In the past, I have found it challenging to keep cilantro, parsley and basil last longer than one week. For months I have been trying out different methods of storing fresh herbs. I even purchased a container that uses a special carbon filter to absorb the gases. I am pleased to tell you that the best and cheapest method I’ve found is to store cilantro and parsley in “covered” Mason jars with some water!
I purchased my herbs on September 5th. When I got home, I trimmed the ends and added 1½-inches of cold water to the Mason jars. Then I covered the herbs and the jars with the plastic bags that they came in and placed them in the refrigerator. Every couple of days I would replace the water.
The picture above was taken on September 26th, exactly three weeks. The cilantro is starting to turn yellow, but still good enough for me to make my cilantro pesto!
Since I don’t have my own little herb garden, indoors or outdoors, this is probably the best way to store these two particular herbs. Unfortunately, the lighting in my house is not conducive to growing herbs indoors. Growing outdoors is challenging, because I live in the desert. But next spring I’m going to try to grow them in some kind of self-watering container, so that I will be able to grow my own parsley, cilantro, basil and mint! I hope that this post will help some of you foodies out there!
I want to tell you about an app that I recently downloaded to my iPhone, it’s the EWG’s Food Scores app. For those who are not familiar with EWG (Environmental Working Group), it is a non-profit organization, located in Washington D.C., that specializes in research and advocacy to protect the public health and the environment. Each year they publish a list of the “The Clean Fifteen™,” fruit and vegetables that you don’t have to buy organic and “The Dirty Dozen Plus™,” fruits and vegetables that you should buy organic.
The Food Scores app was created to “help consumers make healthier, greener food choices.” EWG rated more than 80,000 food items on a score of 1 (best) to 10 (worst). They rated the items based on three criteria: nutrition, ingredients and processing concerns. I recently tried out the app, when I wanted to buy puff pastry. It provided me an overall score, their top findings and nutritional information. I found it very helpful when debating with myself, whether or not to purchase the item. This app will definitely be used more in future food buying decisions! I encourage you to check it out, if you haven’t done so already!
If you are interested in downloading the app, click on the links for the iPhone and the Android.
My oven was in need of a serious cleaning. I was guilty of procrastinating. Fortunately, I do have a self-cleaning oven, but I have always been dissatisfied with the results of the oven glass door. I’ve used Easy Off with its terrible fumes and non-scratch scouring pads, but never totally happy. There was always a few pesty spots left on my door! My husband and I use the oven a lot, so I didn’t have the expectation of it looking brand new. After all, my oven is five-years-old, so I turned to my new BFF, the internet, for advice. I was almost ready to make a purchase on Amazon.com for a rather pricy product that got pretty decent reviews, when I found this YouTube video, How to Clean the Oven Door the Easy Way, by Real Mom Talk. So I proceeded to my local Home Depot store to buy a razor with a handle. What did I have to lose, but a few dollars and some time?
As you can see by the photos below, the glass oven was dirty with burned on grease…not pretty! I added a little water to the area I was cleaning and gently scraped the grease off. The water helps to prevent scratching the glass. After I was done with this process, I was pretty happy. There were just a few tiny spots where I couldn’t get the grease off. Then I proceeded to self-clean the oven for four hours.After the oven cooled down and I wiped off the powdery residue from the cleaning process, I was pleasantly surprised to see the few tiny spots were gone! My oven glass door sparkled without the use of chemicals!
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization, located in Washington D.C., that specializes in research and advocacy to protect the public health and the environment. Yesterday, the EWG released their annual “Shopper’s Guide.” The guide has two lists, one that contains produce with the least amounts of pesticides and the other that contains produce with the highest amounts of pesticides.
The following is a list of the fruits and vegetables that are considered the “cleanest” with the least amount of contamination, according to the Environmental Working Group:
For the fifth year in a row, apples tops the list as being the most contaminated. The list below has produce considered to be the “dirtiest” with the highest pesticide residue found in testing:
It is recommended by EWG to buy organic fruits and vegetables on the “Dirty Dozen Plus™” list, when affordable and available.
On my bi-weekly trip to Trader Joe’s, I came across a “new” apple called Opal. It is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Topaz and was discovered in Europe in 1999. In March 2010, the Opal brand apple made its debut in the United States and is grown exclusively by Ralph Broetje of Broetje Orchards in Washington. The conventional apples are in season from December through March, while the organic apples are available November through January. According to an article written by Tom Karst, in The Packer, Everything Produce, April 1, 2014, the Opal apple received the Non-GMO (non-genetically modified organisms) verification.
What is unique about this variety is not only its sweetness and crispness, but the fact the apple does not turn brown after being cut. I must say that I have become a fan of this fruit and you can see how beautiful it is by the cross-section pictures. If you haven’t tasted this variety before, look for it the next time you are in the grocery store and buy a few. You won’t be disappointed! For more information about this yummy apple, click on the links below.
Next to water, coffee is the most popular beverage and one of the most traded commodities in the world. In order for coffee to be certified organic, the grower must prove that the beans and the soil are free of fertilizers, chemicals and residues for typically three organic growing seasons. Triple certified arabica beans are the highest quality coffee you can buy. In order for coffee to be triple certified, it must come from farms that hold the Quality Assurance International’s organic certification, are Fair Trade certified and hold the Smithsonian Institutes’s shade-grown certification.
Benefits of Organic Coffee
- Environmental—Most organic coffee growers plant in the shade of the rain forest, which provides adequate plant nutrition and eliminates the need for chemical pesticides and herbicides. Non-organic coffee is planted in deforested areas, where the beans are grown in the full-sun and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are required.
- Health—Pesticides and other farming chemicals can cause damage to the nervous and reproductive systems and have been linked with developmental and behavioral abnormalities. The health risks are eliminated when you drink organic coffee.
- Farmer—Many certified organic coffee growers are also Fair Trade certified. When the small organic farmers are a part the cooperative, they are paid a “fair” price for their beans, which allows them to have a sustainable business that positively influence their communities.
Buying organic coffee is better for you and the environment and helps the small farmers. Stores like Costco, Trader Joe’s, Target and other grocery stores help to make it an enjoyable and affordable choice!