I’ve been canning a ton of tomatoes and a few jams and jellies with my grandmother this summer. The benefits are many: spending time with my grandmother, learning a skill, and slicing a huge chunk out of my grocery bill–just to name a few. But I hadn’t really considered that there could be any negative aspects until I read Grist.org’s Ask Umbra on the dangers of BPA in canning lids and canned food. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a compound found in plastics that’s hard to avoid because it’s just about everywhere (the Environmental Working Group estimates that six billion pounds are produced globally). BPA has been linked to all sorts of serious health problems (if you want to find out more just click the link above; EWG is a great resource). I’ve long been aware of these dangers, which is one of the reason I store my homemade deodorant and toothpaste in pimento jars. I also knew that BPA could leech into the canned foods at the grocery store, since those metal cans are lined with BPA.
I had never thought about home-canned foods, though. Apparently those single-use lids are also lined with BPA, and while they’re the only option available at the grocery store, Umbra points out a couple of safer choices. Though I’m not going to throw away all those tomatoes we’ve worked hard to pick, wash, and can, come next summer I’ll be equipped with BPA-free lids–some of which are also reusable, which will save money in the end as well. One of Umbra’s tips was to leave head space in the jars so that the food doesn’t actually touch the lid, which we did, and the jars themselves are made of glass (rather than BPA-lined metal, like the store bought variety), so I think we’ll still be better off than if we’d bought our canned goods from the grocery store.