Understanding where your food comes from
I recently took a short break to recharge at the award-winning Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the hinterland of the Gold Coast. The 5-day Optimum Health package is interspersed with great presentations from world class health and lifestyle experts sharing the latest information on everything from sleep tips, to brain training to managing stress, and also practical information about how to start on your wholefood journey and how to limit the amount of toxins in your home.
So after a blissful combination of spa treatments, organic food grown on the property, early morning tai chi overlooking the sun-drenched valley, I returned; refreshed, recharged and inspired to create our own easy reference list to reducing the toxins in your home.
Liveability’s Top Food Tips for a Healthy Home
Chemicals such as pesticides, antibiotics and hormones are used to enable plant and animal farming to be more productive. Residues of these chemicals can be harmful to humans if taken in large amounts or if people have particular sensitivities to them. If you have small kids this becomes particularly relevant. So we’ve gathered together our top tips to support your path to a healthy home for you and your family.
- Buy organic* produce or at least buy organic versions of the fruit and vegetables that have the most chemical residue. Organic farming grows produce without the use of synthetic chemicals or pesticides. Research* shows that just shifting to organic produce can reduce the levels of toxins in your body. (If you’re time poor you might like to check out our Guide to Organic Home Delivery.)
- Choose foods that are as fresh as possible. Go for the self-service options in the fruit and veggies section rather than foods that are prepackaged in plastic.
- Grow your own vegetables. (See our Fruit and Veggie Planting Calendar.)
- Peel vegetables and remove the outer layer of leaves.
- Thoroughly wash all fruit and vegetables.
- Limit the amount of plastic you use to store fruit and vegetable in the fridge; use glass or ceramic containers instead. (Check out our Guide to Storing Vegetables Without Plastic and Storing Vegetables Without Plastic).
- Buy fresh or frozen instead of canned food, unless the label states that it’s BPA free. BPA is the chemical found in the plastic lining of some tinned food cans.
- Swap your plastic water bottle for stainless steel.
- Trim visible fat from meats, as many residues are fat soluble.
- Cook meat and chicken thoroughly.
- Consume a variety of foods (including meat alternatives like legumes, tofu, nuts and eggs) to reduce your intake of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, hormones and pesticides.
- Wash your hands regularly and minimise handling of thermal paper receipts from stores. The printed receipts have been shown to have high BPA levels.
Thanks to ecostore, we also have a fantastic Healthy Home Guide to Nasty Chemicals. Now you can cross-check the chemicals in the ingredients on the back of your product packaging and understand how these chemicals impact your health. You can also watch a short how-to video from the founder of ecostore about creating a healthy home.
*Research in the USA in 2011 revealed that families who ate fresh, unpackaged organic food for just three days reduced their BPA levels by 66%.
“The study involved five 4-person families, including adults and children, who were chosen in part because they reported frequently eating canned foods. Urine samples were collected over 8 days. On days 3–5 family members consumed only food prepared by a caterer who avoided using plastic (including plastic utensils and storage containers) in preparing and packaging the meals and snacks made from fresh ingredients. Families were given stainless steel water bottles and lunch boxes and advised to use only the containers provided. Coffee drinkers were instructed to use a French press or ceramic drip in place of a plastic coffee maker.
When consuming their customary diets, family members’ urine levels of biomarkers for both BPA and DEHP were in the range of the general U.S. population’s, as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey program. During the time the families were on the fresh-food diet, the geometric mean concentration of BPA dropped by 66%, and mean concentrations of DEHP metabolites decreased by 53–56%.”