My slow cooker is battered and dinged, and I love it. Fill it with filtered water and dried beans in the morning, set on low, and by dinnertime, I have a steaming pot of cooked beans. Or load it up with broth and chopped vegetables, and I come home to a beautiful soup for a healthy meal.
Canned foods can be a lifesaver for working families. Who doesn't love to tuck into soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, or open a can of tomatoes in the winter when the grocery store vegetable aisle is bare? And it's often a struggle to get nutritious food on the table with the all demands of family, school and work.
I used canned food all the time until I learned about the synthetic estrogen bisphenol A, which is in the epoxy lining of most food cans sold in the U.S. That lining inevitably leaches BPA into the food inside. Scientists have linked BPA to infertility, breast cancer, obesity, diabetes, behavior changes in children and other serious disorders.
Another reason my slow cooker is my best friend? I can't ignore a 2011 study from the Harvard School of Public Health that showed that volunteers who ate a single serving of canned soup once a day for just five days had an increase of more than 1000 percent of BPA in their bodies, compared to days when they ate fresh soup.
So I use my trusty crockpot to make beans, soups and tasty pasta sauces while I'm at the office. And I love to have healthy comfort food ready when I get home.
More tips to reduce your BPA consumption
Limit canned foods or buy BPA-free
Most canned foods, even some "natural" and organic brands, have BPA-based epoxy liners. The federal Food and Drug Administration has banned baby bottles and sippy cups that leach BPA but does not bar BPA in the linings of cans. Many companies have announced plans to go BPA-free because of consumer pressure, but they haven't done it yet. Whole Foods is trying to move toward BPA-free cans and claims that 27 percent of its store-brand canned foods are already BPA-free. Since these aren't clearly labeled you don't know if you are getting BPA in your dinner.
Luckily several manufacturers have switched to BPA-free metal cans. These may be available at natural food stores in your area, or you can buy them in bulk online.
BPA-free cans and packages
Beans - Eden Foods cans
Coconut milk - Native Forest and AROY-D cans
Fish and seafood - Vital Choice (all products except crab); assorted Crown Prince products; Wild Planet for sardines and Alaskan pink salmon
Tomato products - Bionaturae and Muir Glen use BPA-free can liners. Or buy tomatoes by Pomi in waxed cardboard or any tomato sauces in glass jars.
Soups and chili- Amy's Kitchen cans and soups sold in waxed cartons are BPA-free.
Vegetables -Native Forest and Farmer's Market canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes and squash.
Fruit - Native Forest canned tropical fruit salad, pineapple and sliced peaches
Do you have questions or suggestions about reducing your BPA intake? Have you found any other companies that claim their cans are BPA-free? Send us the company name and a link in the comments section and we'll check it out!
Choose safe baby formula:
EWG recommends breast milk as the best food for babies, but we also know that most American infants drink some formula. Our canned food tests, published in 2007, found BPA leaching from liquid formula packaged in metal cans. Since then, Connecticut has banned baby formula cans and food jars. Vermont and Maine have banned BPA in formula packages. Baby formula companies have stepped up efforts to find packaging without BPA, but it isn't certain that all of them have changed to BPA-free materials.
All Similac formulas are sold in BPA-free packaging. But other companies don't share clear information with consumers. The Vermont Department of Health published this list of BPA-free formulas available as of October 2011:
Similac - all types
Enfamil A.R Lipil
Enfamil EnfaCare Lipil
Enfamil Nutramigen Lipil
Enfamil Pregestimil Lipil
Enfamil Premium Infant
Enfamil Premium Newborn
Nestlé Good Start Supreme - Milk-based
Nestlé Good Start Supreme - Soy-based
PBM Parent's Choice Gentle
PBM Parent's Choice Lactose Free
PBM Parent's Choice Milk-based
PBM Parent's Choice Organic
Note: PBM makes generic and store-brand formulas sold under a variety of names at Walmart, Sam's Club, Babies "R" Us, Target, Walgreens and other major grocery stores.
Similac - all ready to eat and concentrated
Enfamil Lipil (ready to eat)
Enfamil Prosobee (ready to eat)
If your formula brand is not listed, we suggest you contact the company directly to determine whether it uses BPA in its packaging.