If you caught the On Point segment “The Safety of Plastics, Beyond B.P.A.” with Tom Ashbrook this week, you heard the strong warnings from Mariah Blake, the reporter for Mother Jones on “The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics,” and the rest of Tom’s guests that hour. Mariah’s reporting reveals the devastating news that nearly ALL PLASTIC is a risk for exposure to estrogenic chemicals, not just plastics containing Bisphenol-A (BPA), causing endocrine disruption linked to cancer, asthma, diabetes, obesity, infertility, and heart disease. Mariah’s article goes on to explain recent research from CertiChem that, “almost all commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.” And these chemicals are harmful even at VERY LOW doses.
One caller, James, who is a food scientist and works for a food packaging plant in WI advises that “if [food is] packaged in plastic, it’s a risk,” and he does everything he can to avoid buying food in the supermarket packaged or bagged in plastic.
Whoa. Is your mind blown yet? That’s the “Really? EVER? Why?” Now for the How…
Ok, so it’s actually impossible to avoid plastics completely. But there are several things you can do to REDUCE the exposure of your food to plastic.
“But I live in New England, and in a city” you say? Urban farming is becoming easier than ever for everyone to participate in one way or another. People are “farming” in lots of creative ways in creative spaces – on their lawns, balconies and rooftops (like Whole Foods in Lynnfield); in their driveways and parking spaces or lots; in raised beds, milk crates (like B Good restaurant in Harvard Square), or any container they can find. All you really need is full sun exposure, a water source, and some know-how. In some cases, you don’t even need the first two ingredients… Just the third!
Did you know that in the City of Somerville you are allowed to have up to six chickens on your property? The Somerville Mayor’s Urban Agriculture Initiative makes it easy to obtain a chicken keeping permit and even sell the eggs! Chickens are a perfect addition to any urban garden; they’re funny little creatures with big personalities that help you out by eating pests and garden waste as well as providing plentiful manure that is a super fertile addition to your compost mix. And if you’re a resident, you can learn how for free by becoming an Urban Agriculture Ambassador.
And there’s beekeeping. Having your own hive has numerous benefits including honey, wax, and increased pollination for your fruiting crops like apple trees and raspberry bushes (which make great “living” fences).
“Keeping bees is not just a benefit to society, the world or the environment, but also a direct benefit to you. . . if you have a garden, fruit trees or soft fruits, you will find that bees, once they have started pollinating the crop will increase your productivity by 18% to 36%.” –– Urban Beekeeping
You may be feeling overwhelmed by this revealing information about plastics. And find it totally unrealistic to eradicate all plastics from coming in contact with your food. But that’s just ONE reason to consider starting your own urban farm. Learn EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW about urban fruit and vegetable farming, raising chickens and bee-keeping at the intensive weekend Urban Farming Course in Somerville March 21-23.
It is not only possible, but fairly easy, to pick your salad every day from your own urban farm instead of carrying it home from the grocery store in plastic.