Plastics & Food

Hello Everyone,

This morning was my second time on Ch 4’s The Morning Show with Staci Spanos to discuss health topics that concern us and our customers. Our first topic was hidden toxins in foods and today I spoke about plastics. In case you missed the segment, I wanted to alert everyone to my latest research on plastics and how they harm the environment and in the end, us! 

First of all, plastic is not going away. It is in every part of our society and has become a global problem. Even if our government changed laws on petro based plastics, our problem would still persist due to other large scale countries.  In specific, the mass pollution that has accumulated in the Pacific Ocean between California and China is made up from 80% “land-used” or “made” plastics. Only 20% actually comes from ocean vessels. These plastics have accumulated into a soupy mess researchers call the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Patch is over twice the size of Texas and we still do not know how deep this soup is churning.  Different types of plastics create layers of ocean trash – some float on top of the water, some float slightly below the surface, and others sink. There are even Pacific Islands with beach sand created from broken up plastic!

While most people think of a garbage dump as big pile of decomposing trash – plastic doesn’t decompose. Instead, when sunlight shines on the plastic in the ocean it becomes brittle and is broken up by birds and fish who mistake it for food. After a while it ends up as small particulate that become part of our food chain.

Small fish mistake it for plankton, those fish are eaten by larger fish, and so on and so on until we catch the game fish for human consumption. The undigested plastics can leach Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates into to the small fish that then get transferred to the large fish that we eat. BPA and phthalates are hormone disrupters that are monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its intended contact usage with food and other products. The concern is accumulation of too many human synthesized hormone disrupters, and what long term affects it is having on our health. 

People have always asked me if I am an environmentalist.  I never categorized myself this way. Instead I am into protecting food quality and people’s health, but what I have learned over the past 15 years in the natural foods business is that what is bad for the environment is usually bad for us. I guess that does make me an environmentalist. 

So, what can we do about plastics and its chemicals leaching into our lives?

– Stop using plastic whenever possible. I don’t want you to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders when you are thirsty and the dreaded single-use plastic water bottle is the only option, but I do want you to think about new ways to have convenience as well as minimize your plastic consumption. 

– Use steel or aluminum (enamel lined) reusable water bottles. SIGG bottles even let you drink in style. **Do not reuse your single-use plastic water bottle** Every time you refill it, crinkle it with your hand or leave it in the heat, chemicals continue to leach into the water you are drinking.  Recycle it instead!

– When it comes to packaging, only use plastic bags if they are biodegradable (like the ones we have at Native Sun). Your best choice though, is to keep reusable cloth grocery bags in your car and take them into the grocery, department store, hardware store, etc. when you shop.

While there will always be sources of plastic exposure and waste that we cannot control such as PVC pipes, hospital equipment, vinyl flooring, and packaged food, we do have the ability to minimize our personal use and our family’s exposure to many harmful chemicals in plastics. This is the first step to helping get under control a global problem that seems almost impossible to fix.

Native Sun Owner, Aaron Gottlieb

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