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Put Down the Aluminum Foil
The time has long passed for us to simply wrap unused meat in aluminum foil, or dump vegetables into a plastic zip-top bag, or put a clip on the top of the plastic bag where our frozen shrimp came from, and toss them all blithely into the freezer in the cheerful knowledge that our uncooked/unused food will be ready when we are.
Now we have a few rogue elements to watch out for when it comes to food storage:
- Bisphenol A (or BPA)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Phthalates (which make PVC products like baby toys softer)
- Aluminum foil (for which the jury is still out – however, a better-safe-than-sorry stance is justified)
The above compounds have been linked to cancer, hormone imbalance, developmental disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease – none of which we want cheek-to-cheek with our food. Even Tupperware, the grand old brand, uses BPAs and sees no problem with it. That just isn’t good enough for the conscious customer. We do our best to feed our families the most wholesome foods, and those foods deserve wholesome storage. Fortunately, we have options – all we have to do is look for them and keep our minds open.
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Better Freezer Storage Ideas
Here is a list of non-toxic freezer containers:
1. Glass containers are an excellent choice. Glass is non-reactive (that is, it won’t leach into the food touching it), easy to clean, and will not wear out. Many well-known manufacturers, such as Pyrex and CorningWare, make glass containers that are freezer-safe. Even glass jars used for canning can work. If you’re fearful of dropping and breaking glass containers, though, you can use…
2. BPA-free plastics – yes, not all plastics are bad guys. Most safe plastics will say “BPA-free" on their packaging, but if you have a question, look for the resin identification code at the bottom – the number inside the triangle of arrows. Here are the numbers:
1: Polyethyelene terephthalate (PETE)
2: High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
3: Vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
4: Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
5: Polypropylene (PP)
6: Polystyrene (PS)
7: Other (includes polycarbonate, acrylic, polylactic acid, fiberglass)
1, 2, 4, and 5 are safe for food usage. Avoid products labeled 3, 6, and 7.
3. Stainless steel – like glass, stainless steel is also non-reactive. Life Without Plastic, NoPlastic, and Innate are just a few of the companies with good selections of stainless steel containers. For added freezer protection, look for either airtight stainless steel lids or silicone lids.
4. Silicone – Silicone is not only used for the lids of freezer containers, it can also be used for the whole container. As of now, silicone freezer containers are made for child-sized portions (like the offerings of Kinderville), but they would be good for keeping small leftovers (and may help in portion control).
5. Cellulose bags and wrapping paper. Cellulose is what plant cell walls are made of, so it doesn’t get more “natural" than that. Cellulose is biodegradable and non-reactive – the best of both worlds. Find cellulose products at Greenhome.
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Other Safety Tips
For all non-toxic freezer containers, a few safety rules apply. Don’t put hot food in the freezer. Don’t fill up containers completely – liquid expands when it freezes. If a metal container is frosty, use gloves or a potholder while handling so that your fingers don’t stick to the metal. If you won’t be eating the food soon, write its freezing date on a label (preferably, a label easy to remove off of the container).
Here’s one more freezer tip: Cigar boxes can also prevent freezer burn. You don’t need to smoke to find cigar boxes – many cigar stores sell them for a teensy price. Cigar boxes work best with already-packaged items, like individually wrapped fruit bars or microwaveable meals. And they stack just as well as any other freezer container.
Save your food – but save it safely. It deserves nothing less.