With preserving season just around the corner and fresh fruit already arriving for jam, I start, once again, to get that little niggling feeling in the back of my head. That feeling that tells me that something isn’t quite right, and I don’t have a good answer for it. I hate that feeling. I am a problem solver by nature and when I can’t fix a problem I sit and stew about it. My ongoing problem about preserving is just this: plastic.
By now we all know that BPA is NOT. GOOD. Bisphenol A is a chemical found in a certain kind of plastic that can leach out of the plastic and into your food. BPA mimics estrogen and is known to be an endocrin disruptor. Some countries have banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, and some companies are changing the lining of their cans to not include BPA.
The problem with removing BPA, though, is that it has to be replaced with SOMETHING, and in many cases, a different chemical which is even less studied and could potentially be more dangerous.
A few years ago I learned that canning lids are coated with BPA. This shocked and horrified me. I searched for a solution but came up with nothing really appropriate. Tattler sells canning lids that are BPA-free, but what else is in it? Is it safer or not? Weck sells glass jars and lids, but not only are the jars very expensive, they are also more difficult to tell if a true seal has been made, leaving botulism and other nasties a remote possibility. So I gave up. I continued to can food. I have hundreds of jars, and many lbs of vegetables to preserve. But that annoying little feeling continues to bother me.
Some people say that canning is safe because the food doesn’t sit on the inside of the lid, which is the only place that BPA is found. But when you actually boil your jars, the food bubbles up and boils against the lid, likely plenty long enough to leach out some BPA. There are NO STUDIES that I have found, that can tell me how much BPA is present in food preserved in a home canning jar compared to a regular aluminum can. Who is going to do a study on that? Certainly not the companies selling canning lids!
There are a few other alternatives to canning, and those are freezing and dehydrating. Freezing generally requires plastic bags (see, plastic again!), especially for items that you would normally can. Freezing glass jars is a tricky experiment and I have cracked many a jar in the process. Freezing isn’t especially sustainable, either, since a power outage could easily cause mass destruction to the food in your freezer. Dehydrating is fine, but dehydrated pickles, or salsa, just doesn’t cut it for me…
So I continue to preserve by canning, and I continue to push aside that niggling little feeling. Until something changes, and we find a better way to preserve our food without the use of any plastic I will still be preserving food in mason jars with BPA canning lids. And I will HOPE that because the surface value of the lid is so much less than the surface value of aluminum canned food, that the amount of BPA that has leached into the food is minimal. Maybe someday someone will test glass-canned food and see how much BPA is present.
I would love to hear your opinions on the matter, how you preserve your food and why you choose that method. Do you think BPA in canning lids is a very real issue? Why or why not?
This post has been shared on TheMorrisTribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival 13