Last Can of Tomatoes: Trying to Live BPA Free

Most canned goods are lined with BPA which can break down and cause many health issues.
Most canned goods are lined with BPA which can break down and cause many health issues. | Source
I began canning to control what went into the food my family consumed.
I began canning to control what went into the food my family consumed. | Source

Using the Last Can

After learning about BPA (bisphenol A) a few months ago, I set a goal of never buying canned tomatoes again. I had a small stockpile of stewed tomatoes that I purchased on sale, and being someone who does not waste anything, I wanted to use them up.

This goal coincided with learning how to can my own food. I began water bath canning at the beginning of this summer. I have a vegetable garden and buy produce from local family owned farms. I had wanted to learn how to can for years, but discovering what companies used to line cans spurred me on to educate myself in the process.

BPA is a chemical used in plastics and the inner surface of cans, including high acid foods like tomatoes. Studies have shown that liquids and foods placed in BPA containers may become contaminated to a toxic level. Acid based foods are a particular cause for concern because they can break down the lining of the can in which they are stored.

Another way for the toxins to be triggered is through heat. A plastic container, which is made with BPA, should never be placed in the microwave. The BPA can leak into the food from the heated container.

September is PCOS awareness month.
September is PCOS awareness month. | Source

Endocrine Factors

I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I was diagnosed in 2007 but have shown symptoms of the syndrome since I was 12 years old. PCOS is when the ovaries become cystic, causing many issues with ovulation and fertility. Other associated symptoms of PCOS are obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, hirsutism, and acne. This condition is still quite a mystery to physicians, but as more women find themselves with this syndrome, medical studies have started to provide insight into the causes.

One of the most intriguing discovers in recent years is the possible link between BPA and PCOS. Bisphenol A acts as an endocrine disruptor causing havoc in the body’s reproductive system. BPA mimics estrogen and has caused abnormalities in the uterus of lab mice, as well as early puberty in females.

When I learned about the estrogen connection, bells went off in my head. Up until my hysterectomy in 2007, I had only experienced two good weeks out of a month since I was a teenager due to severe endometriosis. For years, I lived with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) as well, which caused me to turn into a person no one recognized. I experienced bloating, incredible mood swings, cramps so awful I thought I was giving birth, and waves of nausea so strong that I was forced to live off of motion sickness pills for days before my period. In recent years, I found out the nausea right before the menstrual cycle is caused by an overload of estrogen. I just have to wonder if the estrogen I absorbed for many years through BPA products caused a saturation of hormones during the PMDD period.

Everything started to make sense once I learned about PCOS and the BPA connection. I am not blaming PCOS on BPA yet, but I am real close. There still is a genetic component to PCOS and many cases of generations suffering from PCOS have been documented. But, since BPA has been around since 1939, I think a logical connection can be made, especially if mothers were consuming BPA toxins while pregnant. Therefore, creating new female generations already exposed to the endocrine disruptors while in the womb.

Other Health Concerns

Other studies of BPA have linked it to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, liver problems, and possibly breast cancer-all participating symptoms of PCOS. For males, BPA has been linked to sexual dysfunction. So in a household filled with BPA products, it would not surprise me if fertility issues existed.

As of July, 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles. This came after much public outcry over the recent studies linking the substance to the ailments I have already mentioned. But, is the damage already done for many generations of children who drank from bottles that were heated in microwaves or on the stove? Possibly, but the toxin builds up over time. For someone like me, in my forties, a lifetime of consuming BPA has done its damage, but I am battling to regain my health.

Canning your own food is a great alternative to purchasing cans lined with BPA.
Canning your own food is a great alternative to purchasing cans lined with BPA. | Source

Eliminating the Cause

Anyone can choose to remove all the BPA from their homes right now and make a conscious effort not to purchase products that are lined with the compound. Plastics that have the recycle labels numbered 1,2,4,5,6, are unlikely to contain BPAs. Those having the numbers 3 and 7, usually do contain the substance.

You can also be proactive in the fight against BPAs by canning food and/or purchasing products in glass bottles. Canning jars are glass and BPA free, but as I recently learned from another hub article, lids do contain a small amount of the compound. Still, I am working to rid my house of any BPAs. It is a difficult job, but my health and the protection of family makes it a worthwhile project.

Learn How to Can

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About the Author

Catherine Dean is a freelance writer, gardener, quilter, and blogger. Her professional background includes nonprofit program development, grant writing, and volunteer management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Georgia College & State University.

Her blog, Sowing A Simple Harvest, chronicles a modern couple trying to live a simplistic, sustainable life. To explore her professional credentials, visit her website. She can also be followed on Google+.

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Comments 16 comments

Letitialicious profile image

Letitialicious 4 years ago from Paris via San Diego

You know we have the fear of botchulism drilled into us, scaring us from canning our own foods, but what's more frightening, the off chance you'll be poisoned by your own canned produce, or knowing absolutely that every bit of commercially canned food you eat is slowly poisoning you?


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

I understand the fear of botchulism as my mother also drilled that into my head. She froze everything and never canned. But I am striving on into the canning world and seven months in, I have not been sick yet. I nearly died from botchulism as I child (got it from eating at a baseball park) so I have the experience of it still in my mind. So much of the link between PCOS and BPA closely affects me, that I cannot deny its source. Thanks for commenting.


Liz-reviews profile image

Liz-reviews 4 years ago from Vancouver, BC

You Go Girl !!!! There is nothing better than canning at home, I just don't have the time. I had never heard about the lining in the cans and the connection with high acid fruits, very good to know. I know someone that also suffers with painful cysts, will definitely show her your Hub.


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

Please send her my article! Thanks so much for commenting Liz-reviews. Always choose glass jars in the store when you can. Every little bit helps.


lauramaryscott profile image

lauramaryscott 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

mvillecat, thank you so much for this hub. Last year I froze my tomatoes from the garden. When I need a tomato I remove it from the freezer and hold it under warm running water so the skin will slip right off. In the wonderful video you provided in your article they failed to mention how canning tomatoes will remove stains from your hands and make them look beautiful. Canning peaches stains your hands so when the peach run is over you can tomatoes. Thanks also for the other health-related information. No more canned tomatoes in cans for me I will purchase them in bottles only. Thanks.


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

Thank you so much for all your great information!! I did not know any of that. Isn't it wonderful to learn from each other? Thanks for commenting.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

Interesting article and scary too! There are so many chemicals and additives out there now...I'm scared for my daughter too.


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

It is scary Glimmer. I think of all the modern illness and it makes me wonder if it has been from consuming chemicals for the last 100 years. Such as autism, pcos, alzheimer's...a lot of illness I think can be linked back to the chemicals. Thanks for commenting.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

There are so many things out there today that are harmful. I didn't know that BPA was in cans of tomatoes. I am so glad I can my own! We have canned our own picante sauce for years and now make our own stewed tomatoes and spaghetti sauce. This is a very informative hub. I am sure this well help many people with health problems such as yours. Voted this up and more! Have a great day!


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

Thanks so much sgbrown. I am glad you do can your own tomatoes! I am trying to get many more to do the same.


Thundermama profile image

Thundermama 3 years ago from Canada

I just can't seem to stop reading your hubs, you have so many good ones! This information is so important to get out to people. I recently have stopped eating tomatoes all together as I have developed an allergy to them, and now I am glad that I have. Although the rest of my family loves chilli made with canned tomatoes. Time to learn how to can our own in glass jars. And I too suspect PCOS is brought out by all the toxicity in our food.


Justsilvie 3 years ago

Very informative Hub! I love Tomatoes and had changed to Hunt's Tomato products that are BPA free, but my goal is to raise and can my own. Also please be are of the link between PCOS and heart disease as you get older. Voted up and shared!


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

You're so right about BPA in the liners of most cans, and the acidity of tomatoes makes the substance leech into them. However, if someone can't (or doesn't want to) can her/his own tomatoes, they can be purchased in either glass jars or BPA-free tetra packs. I avoid BPA like the plague, have tossed out the plastic in my kitchen, store everything in glassware and cook with stainless steel or cast iron. There are so many toxic substances in everyday products that BPA is only the tip of the iceberg, but it's a good place to begin staying safe.

By the way, I think consumers ought to thank those manufacturers who pack tomatoes and other foods in safe glass jars, tetra packs or (as Eden Brand Foods does) in cans with a safe BPA-free alternative liner by purchasing their products and letting these companies know we appreciate their going the "extra mile" to protect consumers.

Voted Up++

Jaye


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 3 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

I am a canning addict now! My husband has really gotten on the movement too and checks labels in the store and reaches for the glass jars first. We are a toxic generation, sadly. Thanks for all the nice words and for taking time to comment. I like writing about things that can make a difference in people's lives.


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 3 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

Thanks for commenting Justsilvie. Yes, the link is in the inflammation that PCOS causes which in turn causes strokes and heart attacks. Inflammation is the silent killer. Nice to hear you are going for BPA free products.


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 3 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia Author

Thanks for commenting Jaye. Indeed consumers should thank the companies. I usually do it on their facebook pages. I too have seen a wonderful shift in the stores to other packaging methods. Thank goodness! Glassware is the way to go even if it is more expensive.

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