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Understanding the Global Economy

March 30, 2011

Oh, geez.  I’m a bit cranky today anyway, but this one set me off when I noticed the headline.  It didn’t get better after I read the whole thing, either.

Forgoing packaged foods such as canned soups and vegetables could dramatically lower levels of a hormone-disrupting chemical that has been linked to myriad health problems, including birth defects, autism and reproductive issues, according to a study released today.

If you’re not familiar with the whole BPA flap, BPA is a chemical used, among other things, to line containers and prevent more harmful things like viruses and harmful chemicals from getting into food and liquids.  In chemical parlance, it “looks” very similar to estrogen, and thus sometimes can trigger hormonal reactions similar to an intake of the hormone in terms of human reaction.  If you’d like to see some studies, CSPI has done a fair amount of (slightly stilted) coverageHere’s a whitepaper that covers at least some of the concerns.

I’m not denigrating the research.  In fact, it’s nice to see that the industry has tried to find other solutions for baby bottles and infant food, where there’s some moderate concern that’s legitimate.  I do note that most of the substitutes have very similar problems, and/or they haven’t been tested yet so that we can find something else to complain about.

So anyway, I’m less focused on the science or junk science that’s going on here (really, FIVE families in one area?  That’s your scientific sample?).  I’m a bit more invigorated by the implications of the treatment:

After testing the family members’ BPA level in urine samples, researchers provided the families with the three days of organic meals and snacks prepared by a caterer and delivered to their homes last year. Families were instructed to follow very strict protocols if they needed to diverge from the prepared foods for any reason.

So as long as you can get your organic meals catered and have a strict dietician-supported protocol, your levels of BPA will drop from negligible to less-negligible.  Woo!

Hey, this might be a fine study, and I’m sure the eventual recommendations will be wonderfully scientific.  But what’s the eventual cost of action by “concerned citizens” who force changes?  Part of the reason that BPA is lining all those cans is because it significantly reduces the cases of, among other things, botulism in canned food.  So what happens if there’s a broad recommendation that people adopt a natural food diet and that they prepare their own foods?  How many people, especially kids, will be harmed by food preparers who don’t cover all the bases?

I think I’m going to keep my old Nalgene bottles for hiking and avoid leaving them in the car.  And I think I’ll stick with my canned food for long-term storage (I’ll limit my home canning to stuff that I know how to do).  In the meantime, I hope that people don’t get hurt because they panic over something that really isn’t that harmful in the first place.

Updated: By the way, my point in the title was supposed to be something along the lines of saying that what seems good in micro doesn’t work in macro, and organic, monitored diets don’t work on a global scale, so let’s perhaps find a better answer.  There, I’m glad I got back to that.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynn Comp permalink*
    March 31, 2011 8:48 pm

    Only two guys ever got off the planet without having to die first – neither of them was Christ…..there’s a hint for you
    Jim, why did you HAVE to go there? That’s a visual I could really have lived without….

  2. March 31, 2011 5:51 am

    “a hormone-disrupting chemical that has been linked to myriad health problems”

    Really, is there anything that hasn’t been linked to health problems at this point? As a Gen-Xer, I’m already skeptical of most anything in print, but they just keep piling on. Thimerosal causes autism; no it doesn’t. You need mammograms every year; no you don’t. So many things are supposed to cause cancer but really they don’t.

    Yawn. Maybe, one day, we’ll finally stop paying people to conduct studies like these, and also to write about them as though it’s the end of the world.

    A girl can hope, can’t she?

    • March 31, 2011 9:52 am

      I think most people forget that the leading cause of death is: birth.

      And for the record, I’ve never had a mammogram.

      • April 2, 2011 7:26 am

        I think most people forget that the leading cause of death is: birth.

        Yeah…I used that against a doctor once when he said I was gonna die if I kept smoking. Ya gotta die of something, right, even if it’s just old age or “natural causes”, as they say.

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