Tips for Kicking the Can


You deserve safe, healthy food. Help us label GMOs and get antibiotics out of food animals.

By Consumers Union on Friday, July 22nd, 2011

With hot evenings spent grilling in the backyard, you may just be thinking about a cold three-bean salad to compliment your outdoor meal.  Or some tuna salad for lunch.

There are some pretty common pantry staples that you may find yourself having to avoid if you’re Kicking the Can this week.   Here are a few tips to help you stay the course on your can-free journey.

Go fresh!
It’s true that prepping fresh veggies can’t beat the convenience of opening a can, at least by the clock.  But a few extra minutes of prep will reward you with food that is not only BPA-free, but tastes better and has a fraction of the sodium of its canned counterpart.    So chop up some fresh tomatoes.  Green beans just need a quick rinse and can be eaten raw or given a quick steam.  And you can’t beat fresh corn off the cob for recipes calling for a can of corn.

Go frozen!
Check the freezer section of your grocery store.  Just about everything you can get canned comes frozen as well…green beans, corn, spinach, peas, and many fruits as well.  Some even carry frozen artichokes and squash. And they’re flash frozen right after picking, so taste-wise it’s the second best thing to buying it fresh.

Go dried!
Back to the three-bean salad.  Beans are a biggie for a lot of people when it comes to giving up the can for a week. Cooking dried beans involves some time, but it’s not a lot of hands-on time.  There are really just two steps:  dumping them in a pot to soak, and then some time later rinsing them and dumping them in a pot to boil.  And think of the money you’ll save… dried beans are cheap!  Check out this how-to on cooking beans.  There are a few different methods (the quick method, the soak-overnight method…), but either way you’ll wind up with a whole bunch of beans that you can use for other recipes or pile into tortillas.  (And hey, it is just a week – and at the end of it you’ll know how to cook beans!)

Try alternative packaging
It’s really common now to find many varieties of soups and stocks in TetraPaks (the kind of boxes that soy milk comes in).  Tomatoes in TetraPaks, such as Pomi, are also becoming more widely available, and BioNature offers tomato products in glass jars.   Tuna can be found in foil pouches, usually found right alongside the cans in the store.

Support companies already using BPA-free cans
Here’s a Kick the Can loophole!  Some responsible companies have already gone BPA free with their canned goods.  Eden Organics sells beans and other products like chili in BPA-free cans.  Tuna & other canned fish comes BPA free from Wild Planet and VitalChoice (you might need to peruse your local health food store to find these).  Need coconut milk?  Look for Native Forest (pretty common, usually in the Asian section).   And if you happen to live near a Trader Joe’s, the company now states that their canned corn, canned beans, canned fish, canned poultry, and canned beef products are all BPA-free.   Finally, most grocery stores have a decent selection of Muir Glen** tomato products, which recently transitioned to BPA-free cans.  The newer, BPA-free cans are labeled “Better if used by 2013”.

Tell us about your can kicking experience!   What’s been easy to avoid?  What’s been a challenge?  Are there any canned goods you’d like to find alternatives for?

**Muir Glen is a subsidiary of General Mills.   We applaud their recent transition to BPA-free cans, and urge General Mills to make a similar switch for their other lines of canned products such as Progresso soups.

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