#BPA Free: What’s the Correlation Between Organic and BPA Free Canned Food?

Bisphenol-A aka BPA is a synthetic hormone (a component of epoxy resin – eww! reminds me of glue) found in many food grade plastics, canned goods, and paper (like bank receipts), which  has been linked to illnesses such as cancer, developmental disabilities, heart disease, and more. Several studies have been conducted to determine levels in our bodies and conclusive evidence suggests that almost all people surveyed had some level of BPA in their system.

But what does the U. S. government consider a “safe level“? And how do we know what our level is?

From touching your ATM bank receipt to drinking from plastic water bottles and eating canned goods, you are exposing you and your family to this toxic chemical. Canned goods with a white lining or resin code 7 (inside the triangle) are suspect to BPA.

White can linings are likely to have Bisphenol-A, a resin that has been linked to numerous illnesses.

After reading more about BPA lined canned goods, I wondered if there is a correlation between government labeled “organic” brands and BPA free canned goods.

Some of my research findings below:

1. Don’t judge or trust a can by its label! Even though a canned food states it’s “BPA free” it is not always true – even organic brands.

2. Type of canned food, not always brand specific, contain inner linings with BPA. An organic or non-organic brand produces several types of food products, but only selected canned food products may or may not contain the toxic chemical.

3. Safe levels are outdated and inconclusive. One study in 2008 suggested that “0.0024 micrograms per kilogram of body weight” was a safe level for humans (study was done on lab animals), but that study’s results were tossed with the wind in 2009 since it probably contained skewed data from the plastics industry. (Concern over canned foods, Consumer Reports, 2009.)

4. Highest levels of BPA (parts per billion – ppb) were found in green beans and soup according to a Consumer Reports study. And Con-Agra (not by far organic!) was the worst offender for BPA levels.

5. Some, not all, organic brands use BPA free metal cans. Some brands include

  • Eden Foods (BPA free since 1997)
  • Muir Glen tomatoes
  • Amy’s (since 2012)
  • Some Trader Joe products
  • Whole Foods 365 canned goods (only 27% are BPA free)
  • Farmer’s Market Foods (canned pumpkin, pie fillings)
  • Annie’s
  • Earth’s Best Organic
  • Imagine

Download and print a free BPA Free Canned Food Pocket Guide from BPA Free Canned Good blog.

Alternatives to canned foods are fresh, frozen or dried varieties. Although plastic packaging for frozen foods are not always BPA free, the levels are likely much lower than those found in metal cans. Plastic containers that are “safe for the microwave use” likely have higher levels of BPA as well.

Best bet? Buy fresh and can food yourself in BPA free glass jars or freeze for future use. DO NOT heat reusable plastic food containers or those plastic microwave meals! You are more likely to get a higher dose of BPA in your food than using glass containers. And remove those plastic lids from glass containers before reheating too!

Did I miss a brand or health issue related to BPA? Please comment below, I’m always looking for more insight.

5 Reasons to Invest in a CSA Share from Riehm Farms

How would you like to have a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy while also supporting a local business and farm?

I had never heard of CSA until I attended a health fair last October where I work. The Riehm Farms representatives were there and I was excited to learn about a Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, and what they offered. After learning about the local farm and benefits of participating in a CSA, took a pamphlet to to discuss the option with my husband. Since he grew up as a local farm boy, he loved the idea.

Here are 5 Reasons You Should Invest in a CSA

  1. Who is Growing Your Food?
    This is Riehm Farms’ motto, and wouldn’t it stand to reason that you might want to know who is growing your food since it’s providing nourishment to your family’s growing bodies and minds?
  2. No synthetic pesticides are used or artificial fertilizer; ground water pollution and toxic residues are avoided. Riehm Farms prefers to use organic farming practices. Not only are you avoiding many of the toxins on your foods from factory farms, but your product will be better tasting than that which is in a grocery store chain
  3.  Buy healthy local food.
    You spend money on food every week.  The best way to get the most value for your dollar is buying food that is healthy and nutritious from a local farm, instead of produce that is picked before it’s ready and shipped hundreds of miles.
  4. They seek to put extra quality care into the soil and daily procedures.
    This means they  test the mineral content of the produce you’ll receive to ensure the best quality produce.
  5. Not just produce, Riehm Farms not only sells vegetable shares, but also fruit, eggs, and beef.
    Imagine eggs that have bright yellow yolks that stand up when you crack them! Fruit picked at their peak of freshness because it doesn’t have as far to travel.  Local beef, raised in humane conditions at a family farm instead of a factory farm!

If you want more information about Riehm Farms, contact them: Riehm Farms, 7244 North State Route 53, Tiffin, Ohio 44883 or 419-992-4392.  Ask about signing up for a CSA and a tour of the farm!

What is a #CSA Food Share?

csa-food-share-box
An example of a CSA Food Share

Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, is a way to buy produce, eggs and sometimes farm raised meat directly from a local/regional farm.

You, the customer, invest in a “share” ahead of the planting season to guarantee your food harvest in the spring/summer months. Monies go towards seeds, planting and harvesting so that you get farm to table fresh food every week during the season.

One local CSA in Northwest Ohio is Riehm Farms. It’s family owned and run near Tiffin, Ohio.

A regional CSA is Yellowbird Food Shed, a partnership of area farms in Ohio and Tennessee that deliver food shares throughout Ohio.

CSA Facts and FAQs

Why should I invest in a CSA?
When you join a CSA, you make a choice to help create a sustainable food system and you have a whole season to fresh, quality food that was grown with intention and close to your home.

Locally grown vs store bought?
A CSA share is locally produced, it is rich in the valuable nutrients and flavor that is lost in transit when food is shipped from thousands of miles away.

More variety than store bought produce.
Small family farms plan a diverse variety of food that they grow on their land. This offers so many more choices that have been ignored due to the industrialized farming model. Not only is the food fresh, but regional farms offer local artisan products and heirloom varieties that you would not find at a store.

Less toxic chemicals including pesticides are used on crops.
Many CSAs use sustainable methods without the use of harsh chemicals, including  pesticides. While CSAs are not labeled certified organic by the federal government, they are in the truest sense, organically grown.

Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows your food.
Have questions about what’s in your weekly food share? Not sure how to store or use the food share? This is your opportunity to talk to the people who grow your food. Establish a relationship, and learn more about the food you’re eating. You cannot get this information if you buy it from a grocery or big box store.

 

Simple Breakfast #Recipe: Pampered Chef Brownie Pan Omelettes

A simple recipe for mini omelettes using the Pampered Chef Brownie Pan with veggies on hand and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes and they’re ready!

I’m soo excited to finally use my brownie pan from Pampered Chef.  After seeing so many delicious recipes on Pinterest and Pampered Chef parties, I had to try it this morning.

Mini Omettes

You can make this recipe ahead to use as a quick breakfast on the go during the week. Use whatever veggies you have on hand or crumble sausage in place of the veggies.

This recipe makes 6 mini omelettes.

Heat oven to 350F.

What you’ll need:
1 Pampered Chef Brownie Pan
Spray oil
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk or milk substitute
Diced veggies – mushrooms, spinach, etc
Shredded cheese
Herbs (I used my own garden mix and dill)
Salt and pepper,  as needed

Prepare:

  1. Spray each square cup with spray oil

Pampered-Chef-Brownie-Pan2. Crack 6 eggs (or 1 per square cup) in a mixing bowl
3. Add 1/2 cup almond milk (milk or substitute)
4. Whisk, and set aside
5. Chop and dice veggies
6. Sprinkle veggies in each square cup
7. Pour egg mixture into each square cup.

Veggies and Egg Mixture - Mini Omelettes

8. Sprinkle cheese and herbs atop egg mixture.

Cheese on Mini Omelettes

9. Bake at 350F for approximately 20 minutes or until eggs are light and fluffy.

oven-350-degrees

Remove from oven.

Using a small non-stick spatula, remove from brownie pan and serve. If baking ahead, allow to cool then place in microwave safe containers like the Pampered Chef Leak Proof containers.

This was my first attempt and they turned out fluffy and delicious!

fluffy mini omelettes

I cannot wait to try the mini lasagnas using cheese ravioli this week too!

DIY Canning 101: How to Select Tomatoes for Canning

Selecting the best tomatoes to can is important for taste and quality. Where are the best places to find canner tomatoes? Find the answer here.

garden-tomatoes
Fresh garden-picked tomatoes.

It’s July and canning season for tomatoes will be upon us in 4-6 weeks. Now is the perfect time to prepare yourself to can summer’s harvest of tomatoes.

Before you sanitize your first jar, you’ll need to take into account the following:

1. Where you purchase the tomatoes. You can find the best tomatoes in several places, such as:

  • Your Own Garden
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Roadside Stands
Local farm markets like this one in Alvada, Ohio are a great resource for fresh produce.

2. Price. It’s not worth it to can if you’re paying exorbitant prices. The least to the most expensive options are:

  • Your own garden – is always a good choice and the least expensive option.  You control the insecticides used so you know exactly what you’re eating.
  • Farmer’s Markets – patronize local farm markets use a limited amount of pesticides (hopefully, but always ask).  If you start checking every week in early  August, then you’ll know when canner tomatoes are available. They’re not as pretty as the tomatoes from the  beginning of the season, but they’re considerably cheaper and still taste wonderful.

If you want to save even more money, there is the option of purchasing “seconds.” These are the flawed tomatoes that aren’t as in good shape as the regular canning tomatoes. You’ll need to cut off some spots, but they are oftentimes much cheaper.

Remember to have a good rapport with the employees of these places. Sometimes it’s possible they will call you when the canner tomatoes are ready, or they can hold back regular or second canning tomatoes just for you.

  • Roadside stands – I would advise against this because these places sell  mostly tomatoes that look pretty but are higher priced.
canner-tomatoes
Tomatoes ready to be cooked and canned.

3. When are you planning to can the tomatoes? It’s best to can them within 24-48 hours to maximize your investment by making sure you are able to use the tomatoes before they spoil.

Next is how to can tomatoes for the beginner canner.

#DIY: Growing (Organic) Gardens and Canning Month

Putting forth the effort into a garden and reaping the rewards through canning.

Dear Readers –

This month is all about DIY gardening and canning. This is my second year of experimenting with a small garden. Last year, I was able to reap the leftovers of my neighbors’ gardens, but I missed my lesson on canning. However, this year, I’m prepared with canning jars, lids, and two ladies who volunteered to help me!

I hope you are looking forward to simple garden ideas, growing and harvesting your own garden as well as how to preserve your toils of the earth. We’ll also be including a couple other DIY recipes to save you money throughout the year – not just summer – things I have tried and actually work.

So let’s get started….

organic-gardens
Simple organic garden Bell peppers were planted at the end of May.

Home Canning: Better Quality Food on a Budget

canning-food-diy

Home canning is experiencing a resurgence as an increasing amount of people want to know what’s in their food and want to be good stewards of the environment, but they are on a budget. If you are interested, there is an initial investment (to buy jars, lids, canner, etc) and time too, then home canning just might be for you.

Everything in home canning is reusable, except the food and the lids.  This helps the environment since there is less waste for landfills. The practical benefit is that after the initial investment, you’ll save more by spending less on canning supplies in the future.

What Canning Supplies Do I Need?

Jars: The jars you can get at little or no cost.  I found my canning jars from my mother-in-law who rarely uses them.  There may be someone close to you that would love to give you the canning jars from their basement, maybe even give you some tips.  Try buying jars at thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets for even less than retail.

Bands and Lids: In retail stores, the bands and lids are about $12 for a twelve pack (depending on the jar size). The lids themselves are around $6 for twelve.

Canner: The biggest investment is the canner, which is around $20 – ­$100 depending if you want a boiling water bath canner or a pressure canner.  If you just want to can high acid foods like tomatoes, jams, and jellies, then a boiling water bath canner is for you.  However, I would suggest the pressure canner because you can preserve both high and low acid foods as it doubles as a boiling water bath canner.  I know this is expensive; however, they are made to last several lifetimes and you can always buy it on layaway.

Miscellaneous: You will also need the Ball Blue Book or Putting Food By ($6­ – $14) and a basic canning utensil kit ($8­ – $12).  All of the mentioned canning paraphernalia will last quite a few years if you take care of them properly.

 

I’ll be writing more how-to’s of home canning as well as other homesteading articles! What are your experiences with canning food?

Ringing in the New Year with Healthy Food Remedies

Happy 2014! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, but I’ve been working on other endeavors. This year, you’ll see more posts about homesteading, eco-living, and healthy mind, body & spirit articles.

Here are some foods that have natural antibiotic properties that help ward off colds and more.

Garlic: Antibacterial properties make it useful for treating and preventing colds, athlete’s foot and other infectious problems. Scientists attribute garlic’s powers to a sulfur compound called allicin, which it releases when cut or crushed. Because cooking changes and deteriorates this compound, eating raw garlic is the best way to derive the healing qualities from this antibacterial food.
Tip: Try chopping garlic, let it set for a few minutes, and put it on crackers or toast to get the most prevention.

Honey: Use as an antibacterial salve like treating cuts and wounds. Researchers at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam recently discovered that bees add a protein to honey from their immune systems that gives honey its antibacterial quality. Honey also produces an enzyme that in turn produces hydrogen peroxide, which prohibits the growth of bacteria.
Tip: Mix honey and cinnamon, take a teaspoon every morning. Add to oatmeal, pancakes, and tea as well.

Cranberries: Well-known for their ability to help prevent and treat bladder infections, in part because of their antibacterial properties. Cranberries prevent bacteria from latching onto the walls of the bladder and urinary tract by altering bacteria such as E. coli—responsible for illnesses such as kidney infections and the flu—to prevent them from forming the biofilm necessary for an infection to develop.
Tip: Buy fresh cranberries in the store, usually around November, and freeze them. Frozen cranberries are good for 1 year. Make your own cranberry sauce using sugar or honey and whole cranberries.

Tumeric: Essential oils contain a wealth of antibiotic molecules, making this antibacterial food useful for treating topical cuts and wounds. Turmeric is also often taken in Ayurvedic medicine to prevent and treat colds and other internal infections.

Oregano: Essential oils in oregano lend this herb antibacterial powers that have been shown to inhibit even salmonella and E. coli bacteria. Oregano oil is also useful at boosting immunity,  preventing and treating common colds. Because oregano’s antibacterial powers are found in its oil, an oregano oil supplement is better than the dried version.

Peppermint: commonly used in toothpaste, mouthwash and other oral hygiene products—and for good reason, too. Peppermint oil has antibacterial powers that help to kill bad breath-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Tip: Eat a peppermint after meals, it will settle your stomach and freshen your breath!

Basil: Thanks to its volatile oils, this flavorful antibacterial herb can inhibit bacteria growth. Studies have shown that basil can restrict the growth of E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus bacteria, as well as inhibit growth in strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.
Tip: Use raw/fresh basil to get the most use from it. Basil is also easy to grow in pots or in gardens. Snip the leaves regularly, and it will multiply quickly throughout the season. Add to pizza, soups, salads and more.

Note: Above content is credited to: Susan Melgren from a Jan 18, 2012 article originally posted on Mother Earth Living.

Happy Thanksgiving – Give Thanks and Prayers

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone gets to spend some quality time with family and friends this holiday whether you eat turkey on Thursday or a meatless meal with friends – remember to say a prayer of thanksgiving for all that you have right now.

Please remember those citizens of foreign countries who are still at war, for our troops who cannot spend time with their own families because they are always on duty protecting our freedoms and for those who are less fortunate than you and need the basic necessities to survive.

And Thank You for continuing to read this blog…I appreciate your patronage.

If you are a Black Friday shopper, be safe & courteous and click on the links of the fabulous offers I am promoting.

God Bless –

Green Blogger aka Alicia R Young

#Vegetarian Whole Wheat, Flax and Oatmeal Super Muffin #Recipe

A vegetarian muffin recipe that is chocked full of fiber with flax, whole wheat flour and oatmeal. Add fruit and nuts for more fiber content.

Frustrated by not finding a recipe that was chocked full of fiber, yet still simple to put together; I created my own fiber rich vegetarian recipe. Feel free to adapt or add fruit and/or nuts. This recipe could also easily be adaptable to a vegan muffin recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup ground flax

1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1-2 tsp. sweetener (brown sugar)

1 egg

1 cup Soy milk (or vanilla soy milk)

1/4 cup Greek nonfat yogurt

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Mix dry ingredients. Set aside
2. Beat egg slightly. Add yogurt and milk.
3. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until moistened.
4. Spray muffin cups with oil.
5. Fill muffin cups 1/2- 3/4 way full, depending on desired muffin size.
6. Bake 11-15 minutes. Muffins are done when inserted toothpick comes out clean.