This article showed up in my mailbox several weeks ago. Since then, I’ve seen it quoted in such disparate sites as Cooks Illustrated (who talk about high-end cooking tricks and tips) and health discussion boards.
The general consensus seems to be that half the things talked about in this list are such well-known health hazards that everybody EVERYBODY already knows about them. The other half are such — well — sacred cows — that nobody NOBODY wants to give them up.
I’m not sure why giving up canned tomatoes (in favor of glass-jars) is such a threat. Or why popping popcorn in a microwave has become a sacred act.
These two changes seem so simple to make, that the fight and fuss and volumes of discussion on blogs and discussion boards hardly seems worth the effort. I purchased a stove-top popper — a “Whirley-Pop” and a case of Eden Organics popping corn from Amazon, and 3 days later — we were rediscovering just how good the real thing is compared to the soggy, chemical, highly aerosol’d little bags. The canola oil is cheap. The corn is organic and healthy. All the kernels pop. And I can put whatever seasoning I want on it. (See Penzey’s Spices for some great ideas….)
As for the tomatoes — the kerfuffle over the difference between a can and a jar is so great that you’d think bloggers and their spitting discussion board participants were talking about Palestine, or some patch of land in a neighborhood boundary dispute. I’m hard pressed to understand what the big deal is where jars are concerned. I’ve traded my Hunts and Del Monte tomato cans for jars of Marinara, and my cans of Rotel tomatoes and green chilis for Newman’s Own Sockarooni or Fra Diavolo spicy pasta sauces. There are companies who are already beginning to market their tomato sauce, purée, crushed tomatoes and stewed tomatoes in jars — just since this article came out.
Let me repeat that:
There are companies who are already beginning to market their tomato sauce, purée, crushed tomatoes and stewed tomatoes in jars — just since this article came out.
You see — that’s the point. This is how consumers vote with their pocketbook and cause change to happen. This is the important part of supply-demand economics. If you stop demanding / using / buying the bad product, it will disappear from the shelves, and be replaced by the updated version that customers vote to buy. This is GOOD capitalism.
If we know that the acid in tomatoes (so strong that good cooks don’t add tomatoes to certain recipes until the grains and legumes have finished cooking) if the acid in tomatoes causes petrochemicals in the lining of cans to leech out into our tomatoes (food supply) at an unhealthy level — then we just stop buying the cans until they go away. We vote with our pocketbook.
If the paper bags that popcorn pops in during that 2-3 minutes in the microwave is not healthy, and causes long-term health problems (especially if you eat it often) — then you go to the stove, and forget the office break-room popcorn for a while. Until enough of us have voted with out pocketbooks to make Orville Redenbacker and his pals make the switch to healthier bags. They should probably be going for biodegradable bags anyway.
It’s not that manufacturers don’t know how to sell tomatoes in jars — Ragu has been doing it for years. And it’s not that the microwave popcorn makers don’t know how to make bags without the health risks — they do. But the government has given them years instead of months to make the change over, because they have warehouses full of those old bags to be used up.
So far as I can tell — Prevention Magazine’s article wasn’t written as a fear-monger’s treatise, but more as a call to action. It was written because enough people making a change in their shopping habits can cause such a dip in sales, that profit motivation will cause the companies involved to change.
People who don’t like change and can’t handle a little shift in habit are going to balk. Companies that can’t/don’t change with the times are going to lose market share. Is this worth the trouble? It’s such a simple change — Yes. It’s worth the time and trouble.