• Posted by Califia Suntree on December 15th, 2014, 10:48 AM

    As readers of this blog (or my recent cookbook, Bring Your Lunch!) are probably aware, I’m rather down on plastic. Even before all the hoopla about BPA—a chemical found in most plastics that acts as an “endocrine disrupter,” especially in developing bodies—I was anti-plastic because (to quote myself in 2010): “It’s in the ocean and turtles eat it. It never fully disintegrates. It’s made out of petroleum.” Well, the BPA angle is looking more significant by the day, and that whole turtle/ocean thing is more of a problem than ever.

    BPA gets into our systems—the CDC found it in the urine of 93% of a survey group, which they consider “representative” of the entire U.S.— in all kinds of ways (including cash register receipts). But per the NIH, the main way it gets into the body is “through the diet,” including food containers, beverage bottles, and, most especially, the “protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods.” Yes, canned foods are the main culprit. Since hearing this, I have cut way down on my canned food consumption—I buy shelf-stable items in jars and make my own soups and beans to freeze. However, I haven’t been able to eliminate them entirely—I’m devoted to light coconut milk (I use it in everything) and occasionally need some pumpkin puree or roasted chilies or a quick can of chili in a pinch. I get all these items from Trader Joe’s, so I decided to just ask: Are all TJ’s canned goods lined with BPA? Here’s the surprisingly detailed answer I got, from Nikki in Customer Relations.  Read on… »

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  • Posted by Califia Suntree on August 18th, 2008, 6:07 PM

    I came across an article this week that addressed both of my current culinary preoccupations: entomophagy and FD&C red 40. The former was prompted by David Gracer’s fascinating manifesto published in Spooning and the sudden appearance of insect-eating discussions everywhere (I’ll be posting a list of follow-up reading soon). The latter began last weekend, when I set about making red velvet cupcakes (aka RVC) for my dear friend’s birthday party. I spent some time researching recipes online, cobbling together what I hoped would be a delicious synthesis (some tips: use red wine vinegar in the batter, and put Coco Lopes in the frosting). Besides years’ worth of North/South debates (eg “My Ma in Georgia would turn in her grave if she read your recipe!!!”), Read on… »

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  • Posted by Califia Suntree on July 21st, 2008, 5:55 PM

    Here at Spooning central, we’re on a bit of a budget. Those Google ads afford us, well, maybe some gum…every month. However, predictably, it’s also food-snob city, and we like our meats free range, our milk in glass bottles, and our produce pesticide-free. But what to do with a skinny wallet in one hand and a $15 organic melon in the other? Well, someone has answered the call of us budget types and analyzed and rated common produce items based on their pesticide residue. The Environmental Working Group gives us this handy printable rating card! Onions, avocados, asparagus, and pineapples? Go ahead with conventional with peace of mind—the pesticides are barely detectable, if at all. But only buy conventional peaches, bell peppers, and strawberries if you’d like a tasty topping of up to 11 pesticides on each one. It’s good to know I can save my pennies on shallots…so I can spend them on summer fruit.

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on June 27th, 2008, 5:34 PM

    The Enviromental Working Group, a non-profit that investigates toxins in consumer products, recently released a report that DuPont’s supposedly “green” replacement for Teflon is probably no safer than the PFC-rich chemical compound that it’s replacing. The EPA apparently pressured DuPont to stop using a chemical called PFOA by 2015 in Teflon and other non-stick items (which are everywhere–pizza boxes, paper plates, bags containing greasy chips) because they found it to be a carcinogen. DuPont just rolled out a new chemical; however there have been no studies that prove that it’s any less harmful than the original. (Actually, it looks like there’s no data in either direction, better or worse.) If the new chemical also breaks down into PFCs, we’re back where we started. (It may be too late anyway–PFCs apparently stick around for 50,000 years.) What a great excuse for an All-Clad shopping spree!

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