– and a Good Habit that you can use for Holiday Gifting as well as for your Better Health!
Do you recall, years ago, when we first began to hear why we should not drink water from plastic bottles? That we should never use plastic wrap in the microwave? Why we should not store food in plastic containers marked Recyclable 7? But of course we all knew that government agencies and industry standards would catch up with the problems and resolve the dangers.
Guess what? They have not. Recent scientific studies now tell us that more than 90% of bottled water not only contains microplastics to start with, but the bottles themselves continue to leach endocrine disruptors into the fluids they contain. The American Medical Association now recommends that we no longer purchase meat or produce that has been sealed into packaging with cling film products, because of that same leaching issue – and that’s not microwaving with plastic wrap, that’s just touching the packaging directly to the food at room temperature! And for fear of leaching carcinogens and endocrine disruptors we should stop using plastic recyclables in categories 3 (which means it contains phthalates), 6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols). Note: if you want all of the science to back these up, just ask me; I have it saved.
Now in this fall’s Newsletters we have already addressed the need to drink from reusable glasses, mugs, and the like, so let’s assume that issue is solved. You DID stop drinking from plastic bottles, didn’t you?
So how do we solve the food storage issues?
First of all, Break the Plastic Habit. No more 3, 6, or 7 should touch your food (since China now rejects US recyclable plastic trash, these classes are not recyclable anyway). Second, if like me you still occasionally use plastic wrap in the microwave, stop immediately – the plastic polymers are not the problem here; it’s the additives to make them pliable that are dangerous. Third, do not ever wrap and store food in the fridge in plastic wrap again. Finally, find a suitable substitute means for storing food.
Glass and stainless bowls are one obvious storage solution. Fit a saucer or dish on top, and put your leftover chili in the fridge – done, easy peasy. Aluminum foil, you ask? Well, it’s not poisonous as far as we know, but do you reuse it again and again? Why not switch to a reusable product? Why make waste? Let’s break that habit as well – at least, as soon as I use up the extra roll of Reynolds sitting in the bottom drawer.
How shall we keep the odd half an onion or avocado fresh, then? This year a vast array of beeswax coated fabric products has entered the market, vying for our attention. Some of them are strictly beeswax on cotton or linen; some have added pine rosin to make it “clingier”, and some have also added jojoba or essential oils to keep it from drying out for longer sojourns in the fridge – say, to wrap a large piece of Parmesan from which you plan to grate portions for more than a week.
The basic method for use of these fabrics is simple. Warm the cloth by rubbing it in your hands until it is pliable, then fold or wrap it around the food to be stored. Done. If you use a fabric wrap over a bowl, you can always hold it in place with a rubber band, so long as you promise to reuse one of the hundreds of rubbers bands that you have been storing in the kitchen drawer – no fair buying new ones!
Listed at the end of this article are a few of the premade version of these storage fabrics, and you may wish to purchase them.
BUT why not make your own? Buy some fairly tightly woven fabric (I would tell you to go organic, but I am sure you have already thought of that), and make batches of pretty food storage wrappers for yourself. AHA! Make some food storage bags, too – sandwich bags for lunchboxes, perhaps? AHA AGAIN! While you are making these pretty beeswax wrappers, why not make a batch or three for holiday gifts, for the sister-in-law who uses too much plastic, or the neighbor who loves pretty things but would never dream of making her own? AHA a THIRD TIME! While you are making wrappers, why not whip up a dozen dish towels so you break the paper towel habit? What an attractive, cheery, healthy kitchen you will have!
The dishcloths, of course, go in the washer. The storage wraps can be washed with lukewarm water and a little soap. Once again, easy peasy.
Here are links to three different sets of “how to” instructions for the creation of beeswax fabric food wrappers. I wish you many, many seasons of joy with them.
And here are a few premade versions you can purchase.
One final thought: when these cloths finally wear out – after a year or more – you can cut them up and put them in the compost heap, where they will biodegrade and become fodder for your gardens.