Google+ Organic Gardens Network™: Plastic Packaging – Why You’ll Be Glad You Grow Your Own

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Plastic Packaging – Why You’ll Be Glad You Grow Your Own

Plastics are a necessary evil in the world. Yes, they pollute the eco-system, refuse to break down in landfill sites , clog up the sea and damage wildlife. We know this, and we can’t get away from them, much as we try. However, there is one way in which you can save your family from being exposed to the worst that plastics have to offer. By growing your own organic produce, you avoid exposing them to the harmful chemicals used in plastics production, which ends up wrapped around your children’s food.

Food Packaging – Toxic?

You bet. There is increasing uneasiness amongst scientists about the effect of plastics in food packaging. There is no doubt that these chemicals leech out of the plastics and into the food. However, much of the packaging and plastics industry obscures the evidence is there. The worst offender is Bisphenol A, also referred to as BPA.

There is now a substantial body of evidence to suggest that exposure to BPA is harmful. It is used in an eye-watering large number of everyday products, including food packaging, baby bottles and the inside of tin cans. Yes, even your organic tinned beans can be affected. The worry about BPA is that the chemicals released into the material it is packaged around can mimic the female hormone estrogen. This has been suspected for some time, of course, but the packaging industry has been slow to respond.

New Research

The latest research findings came about by chance. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH noticed that a number of their female mice were displaying DNA defects in their eggs. The scientist tasked with tracing the origin of the defect found it was due to exposure to BPA in the mouse cages, in roughly the same proportion to that which humans are exposed to in food packaging. There was an eight-fold increase in defective eggs in the mice housed in these cages.

Since mice are used in laboratories due to their similarity to humans – notably in the reproductive aspect of humans – the results of the University’s findings were startling. If a similar effect was seen in humans exposed in the same way, we could expect to see an increase in chromosomal defects, such as Downs Syndrome, in babies whose mothers were exposed, and an increase in miscarriages. These matters clearly need careful consideration. Yet the response to the concerns of scientists has been lukewarm at best.

European Food Safety Agency Rejects Calls For More Research

The response can be illustrated by the reception of the French Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), who produced a report for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Despite the urgent concerns of ANSES who felt they had amassed a large body of experimental data to back up their concern about the effects of BPA on pregnant women and babies, EFSA rejected the call to look at the data further. They agreed to look at new data from the USA, which should be available soon, but until then they are content that current guidelines are sufficient.

Would You Risk It?

It begs the question, doesn’t it? If you felt there was even the slightest concern about dangerous chemicals leeching into your food and that your children were being exposed to it, would you take the chance? By eating organic, and growing organic wherever possible, that risk is minimized. Using a butcher is another way in which we can reduce our exposure to harmful BPA chemicals, rather than relying on meat packaged in a supermarket. The benefits of breastfeeding don’t need to be restated, but the concern about BPAs in baby bottles is yet another reason to give breastfeeding a central role in new baby feeding, rather than as a cultural quirk, as some seem to consider it.

There is no doubt that the plastics and chemical industries have questions to answer in the matter of harmful chemicals in the environment. I for one am not going to take the chance of exposing my child to more chemicals than are absolutely necessary. Clean, pure, organic food grown in my own plot is the best way I can think of to protect them. Until the results of the 2012 U.S. research results are in, we should all be aware of the presence of BPAs in our lives.

Further Reading
About Bisphenol A
New Study Shows Eliminating Canned Foods & Plastic Food Packaging From Diet Significantly Reduces BPA Levels

About the Author:
Natalie Rigby is a London-based freelance writer with a passion for organic living. From her kid’s beds decked out with organic mattresses to her vegetable garden, she embraces organic products in all aspects of her home.

Photo from


  1. you might also be interested to know that Bisphenol-A is also found on (many of) those thermal receipts you get handed from the grocery clerk.

    oh, and products labelled BPA-free are not 100% without Bisphenol-A. somehow, BPA-free got use to identify the scientific justification for 'a really low amount'.

    now find me an end for my baby's bottle that is 100% free of hormone-messing plastics.


  2. Randall,

    It does seem that BPA is showing up in more places than originally thought, unfortunately. I just learned yesterday at the health food store that Eden Foods (canned foods), which markets their cans as BPA-free are not 100% free. The white lining that touches the food is supposedly BPA-free. However, there is BPA in the outer can. I suppose that is still a good thing since the portion of the can that touches our food is BPA-free. However, the rest of the can that will end up in a landfill if not recycled will be leaching BPA into the ground. How did we get here? Things have gone so awry from the good 'ole days!

    If I find a baby bottle nipple that is 100% BPA-free, I will be sure to let you know.


  3. This is definitely disturbing. I've been reading a lot about the dangers of BPA and how it's everywhere in our environment. We've all got to eat more organic foods for sure.


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