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Tips for a Toxic-Free Thanksgiving

11.17.2017

Nothing says Thanksgiving more than the holiday’s iconic dishes: from the freshly roasted turkey to a bright bowl of tart cranberry sauce, this holiday of gratitude is about tucking in to a delicious meal, surrounded by the people you love. 

But what if some of Thanksgiving’s best dishes could contain hidden toxic chemicals? Don’t let harmful chemicals like BPA, arsenic, or so-called “Teflon chemicals” ruin your holiday.

Follow these steps to reduce toxic chemicals in your Thanksgiving meal:

1. Go with fresh instead of canned. 

The 2016 Buyer Beware report (PDF) found many popular food brands were still adding toxic BPA coating to cans.

BPA alters hormones, and exposure to extremely small amounts is linked to harmful health effects such as an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, infertility, type-2 diabetes, obesity, asthma, and behavioral changes including attention deficit disorder. Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable.

To avoid BPA in cans, make your own cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie filling. It's simple—and fun! Googling will bring up thousands of good recipes.

If you’re partial to the canned varieties, though, look for a “BPA free” label on the can. You may also want to check out this list of brands that have publicly committed to going BPA-free. 

Bonus BPA tip: After doing your Thanksgiving grocery shopping, keep any receipts away from kids. Ink on many cash register receipts contains toxic BPA that can be absorbed through the skin—and kids are most vulnerable to BPA’s harmful effects.

2. Seek out alternative grains instead of rice.

Rice absorbs naturally occurring arsenic from the water it grows in, and arsenic exposure is harmful—especially to kids. Prolonged arsenic exposure is linked to lower IQ and lung, skin, and bladder cancer. 

Protect yourself and your family from arsenic in rice by switching to other grains. Try quinoa, millet, polenta, or farro. Or stick to basmati rice from India, Pakistan, or California—basmati rice from those regions has lower levels of arsenic than other varieties, according to 2015 testing by Consumer Reports.

3. Ditch the nonstick cookware.

“Teflon chemicals,” or PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals), are harmful chemicals that were manufactured for decades for nonstick coatings for cookware. Studies link these toxic chemicals to cancer, liver problems, weaker immune systems, hormone disruption, and smaller birth weights.

As the public has wised up to these harmful effects—and manufacturers’ decades-long deception about these chemicals has also been made public—companies have switched to alternatives, but research shows those alternatives may be just as toxic. 

To be safe, avoid nonstick cookware altogether.

Taking these steps will help you protect yourself and your family from harmful chemicals that could be hiding in your Thanksgiving meal. But we’re also working toward a healthier future where ALL food and products are free of toxic chemicals, with no special steps required. This holiday season, please consider a gift to our work. 

We’re THANKful for your support!