Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 Favorite. It was originally published on November 17, 2011. Enjoy!
I have been commissioned by my mother to order the Thanksgiving turkey, a task that I, a vegetarian since I was 13 years old — and, therefore, a non-eater of turkey for almost 30 years — performed rather pathetically at the grocery store earlier today. The rest of the Thanksgiving meal shopping for our household still has to be done, but there are some staples to avoid as they test positive for BPA.
For half of the products tested, a single 120-gram serving of the food contains enough BPA to show adverse health impacts in lab studies. Have some pumpkin pie after your green bean casserole and gravy, and the amount of BPA delivered to each holiday diner adds up to a concerning chemical dose.
BPA levels in the canned foods we tested were all over the map, even among cans of the same product made by the same company.
What follows are the seven canned Thanksgiving staples that the Breast Cancer Fund tested for BPA and a suggestion for a healthy alternative. The seventh item was not found to have BPA, though the company that makes it said that it does use BPA in the cans.
1. Green Giant Cut Green Beans (by General Mills)
Instead of opening cans of green beans and cream of mushroom soup for a green bean casserole, use fresh green beans or frozen ones.
Photo by ccharmon
2. Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
Instead of using canned soup (which is also high in sodium), the Breast Cancer Fund suggests making your own mushroom sauce using fresh mushrooms and stock (which can be purchased in Tetra Pak cartons).
Photo by noricum
3. Campbell’s Turkey Gravy
Being a vegetarian, I’m not exactly a big consumer of gravy from turkey drippings. Here’s the Breast Cancer Fund‘s suggestion if you feel your meal is not complete without gravy:
Traditional gravy made with pan drippings and flour can be tricky, especially when it comes at the end of meal preparations when everyone is standing around waiting for the gravy to thicken so dinner can start. If you traditionally use canned gravy to avoid this spectacle but want to avoid the BPA, try buying gravy ina cardboard Tetra Pak carton or in a jar.
Photo by Cameron Nordholm
4. Del Monte Fresh Cut Sweet Corn, Cream Style
Here’s the Breast Cancer Fund’s alternative: “Cook frozen corn with some cream, salt, pepper and butter. Add flour or corn starch to thicken.” (But maybe go light on the salt if you’re watching your sodium, and easy with the sour cream and butter if you’re watching your cholesterol and fats.)
Of course, if it were summer, you could use fresh corn and shuck it off the cobs.
Photo by star5112
5. Libby’s Pumpkin (by Nestle)
Some stores do carry pumpkin in Tetra Pak cartons. Or you can go all-out and use an actual pumpkin:
Sugar pie pumpkins are readily available at many grocery stores, or you can substitute another type of winter squash, like butternut. Making a pie from scratch takes a little more work, but is worth the effort. And nothing beats the smell of roasting pumpkin in the oven.
Photo by sundaykofax
6. Carnation Evaporated Milk (by Nestle)
The Breast Cancer Fund suggests some substitutes:
Instead of evaporated milk, use heavy cream (you may want to add a little less than the recipe calls for since it can be richer and thinner than evaporated milk). Another option is to evaporate the milk yourself. Store-bought evaporated milk is just milk with about 60 percent of the water removed. Simmer milk on the stove until it is reduced by just over half to make your own.
Photo by amyf
7. Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
The Breast Cancer Fund did not find BPA in canned cranberry sauce, though Ocean Spray says that it uses BPA in the cans.
Nonetheless, how about making some cranberry sauce with actual fresh cranberries? I’ve made my own for the past few years and it’s quite easy: you simply boil fresh cranberries in equal parts sugar and water. I like to add some ginger and/or a twist of orange or lemon zest, too. The results are different from the gelatinous version from a can, but still very good.
Photo by sleepyneko
Happy and safe eating this Thanksgiving holiday!
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