Food— Safer Alternatives

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Reduce Your Exposure to Pesticides in Food:

  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating to remove traces of pesticides.
  • Whenever possible, buy organic fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, and other organic foods.
  • If possible, consider growing your own food using organic methods or buying locally-grown food at farmer’s markets. Talk directly with your farmer and learn as much as possible about the products used in growing your food.
  • Consider eating less fat, as some pesticides build up in the fat of animals. Consider removing fat that you see on meat and fish, eating leaner meats, and eating smaller amounts of dairy products; if available, choose low fat or nonfat dairy products if possible.
  • Check out Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides showing which fruits and vegetables contain the most and least pesticides.
  • PANNA’s What’s on my Food? searchable database

Reduce Your Exposure to Mercury:

  • Eat fish with lower mercury levels, such as all species of wild Alaska salmon.
  • Try to avoid eating long-lived and large predator fish that are known to be higher in mercury, such as king mackerel, tilefish, swordfish, orange roughy, and marlin. Try to limit your consumption of tuna, especially stakes and canned ‘white’ albacore. Fish that have been found to have lower-mercury levels are wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, Atlantic herring, Dungeness crab, Pacific cod, Alaska black cod, farmed striped bass, tilapia, farmed catfish, clams, mussels, and Pacific oysters.
  • State of Alaska Fish Facts and Consumption Guidelines
  • EWG’s Tuna Calculator

Reduce Your Exposure to Bisphenol-A:

  • Use glass, stainless steel, or polyethylene bottles (PETE, PET, or #1; HDPE or #2; LDPE or #4) instead of polycarbonate (PC or #7) bottles.
  • Use glass or ceramic containers instead of polycarbonate containers to store hot foods or to heat foods in microwaves, as bisphenol-A tends to leach faster with higher temperatures.
  • Cut back on consumption of canned foods to reduce exposure to bisphenol-A contamination from the interior coating of the container. Also, avoid canned foods with higher fat content, which may have higher levels of bisphenol-A.

Reduce Your Exposure to Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic substances (PBTs) such as PCBs and PBDEs *:

  • Consider eating less fat by choosing leaner meat and poultry cuts, removing visible fat on meat and fish whenever possible and choosing cooking methods that remove excess fat such as broiling, grilling, and roasting.
  • Although it is uncertain how far contaminants may spread around formerly used defense sites, it is advisable to have water and traditional food sources close to, downstream or downwind of these sites tested for the possibility of harmful exposures to PCBs and other persistent chemicals.

*While not used in food production or packaging, these, and other Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic substances are widespread in the environment and build up in the food web.

Reduce Your Exposure to Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs):

  • Minimize packaged food and greasy fast foods in your diet.
  • Phase out the use of Teflon and other non-stick cookware.

Reduce Your Exposure to Lead:

  • Avoid using ceramics with lead-based glaze or leaded crystalware as containers for food or beverages. Acidic foods and beverages such as orange juice and coffee may accelerate the leaching of lead from these containers.
  • If you suspect that the pipes in your home are lead, have your water tested and replace the pipes if needed. The only way to know if your water contains lead is to have it tested.