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Four Steps to a Healthy Kitchen

1. Avoid Pesticides; Go Organic —

The problem: Many conventional fruits and vegetables carry pesticide residues. Twenty-three of theHealthy Kitchen world's 28 most commonly used pesticides are suspected carcinogens, and several are possible neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors. Consuming conventional dairy products and meat can expose you to the hormones used on food animals, which may be linked to endocrine disruption. May be linked to: cancer and endocrine disruption.

The solution: Buy organic foods, grown without toxic pesticides, when you can. If you're on a tight budget, avoid conventional fruits and vegetables that carry the highest amounts of pesticide residue: apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, raspberries, spinach, and strawberries. Eating organic also gives your immune system a boost. A study at the University of California-Davis found that organic produce has 19 - 50 percent more cancer-fighting anti-oxidants than conventional produce.

Visit the National Green Pages™ category: food

Check out our article: Eat Less Meat; Cool the Planet

2. Be Fussy about Your Fish —

The problem: Some fish can contain mercury and polychlorinated biphernyls (PCBs). Some experts say that FDA and EPA fish consumption limits, established to keep pregnant women and children safe, are too lax. May be linked to: cancer and developmental disorders.

The solution: To find fish low in mercury and PCBs, and to avoid supporting fishing practices that harm the environment, download our "Safe Seafood Wallet Card." Also, look to plant sources of the healthy omega-3s found in fish, including walnuts, flax seeds, and oils.

Eco-Bonus: Buying sustainably caught fish helps discourage environmentally unsound methods, like bottom-trawling and fish farming, which contribute to the decline of our oceans.

Visit the National Green Pages™ category: seafood

Check out our article: Safe, Sustainable Seafood

3. Ban Plastics #3, 6, and 7 —

The problem: Hard-to-recycle plastics often contain toxins that can leach into food and water, especially when heated.

#3: These polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics contain plastic-softening phthalates like DEHP. Some plastic wraps are made from PVC, as well as vegetable oil bottles and some flexible plastic containers.

#6: Also known as polystyrene, styrofoam take-out containers are often made from #6, which is considered a possible human carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

#7: Also known as polycarbonate, clear, hard #7 plastic is often used in sport water botles and baby bottles. This plastic often contains bisphenol-A. (#7 is a catch-all category, so plant-based plastics are labeled #7 as well, but do not contain bisphenol-A.)

The above may be linked to: cancer and endocrine disruption.

The solution: Get rid of #3, #6, and clear, hard #7 plastics, especially those that might be used by children. Single-use beverage bottles are typically made from #1 (PETE) and #2 (HDPE) plastics, which are generally considered safe for one-time use. However, studies indicate that DEHP may leach from PETE bottles after repeated use. Most plastic food storage containers are #5 and are considered safe.

All plastics can leach in the long term, so it's best to avoid plastic altogether and choose glass or ceramic containers instead. When you do use plastic, avoid microwaiving foods or putting hot food or drinks in them; heat promotes leaching. Instead of plastic water bottles, try a reusable, stainless steel Klean Kanteen bottle, available at REI stores and, or a SIGG-brand bottle, made from aluminum, with a water-based lining to prevent leaching, available at Whole Foods stores and

Check out our article: Greener Paths for Plastics

4. Be Cautious with Your Cookware —

The problem: Non-stick pans with Teflon or Teflon-like coatings contain polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which break down into the air at high temperatures. Aluminum can also find its way into your food through cookware. Though exposure to aluminum has not been linked definitively to any adverse effects like Alzheimer's disease, it is thought wise to avoid extra exposure. Linked to: cancer.

The solution: Stainless steel and cast iron are both safe alternatives to non-stick and aluminum pans. Non-stick anodized aluminum pans have a layer of aluminum oxide to prevent aluminum leaching.





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