By Melinda Alcorn, Kentucky Safe Foods Project Coordinator
In September 2012, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation launched the Kentucky Safe Foods Project at the Berea Farmers Market Live Large! Live Local! Festival. Since then, we have worked with health professionals, children's groups and local food organizations to reduce the exposure of Kentucky families to the toxic chemical BPA.
Bisphenol-A is a chemical compound that is often used in canned foods and beverages, plastics, thermal receipt paper, toilet paper, children's toys and baby bottles. BPA leaches into our foods from these products; heating food in plastic containers made with the chemical increases the amount that we ingest. Scientific studies have shown that everyone has BPA in their bodies, and that the chemical has been linked to cancer, developmental disabilities, reproductive disorders, obesity, diabetes, and a variety of other illnesses and diseases.
As coordinator of the Kentucky Safe Foods Project and community educator with the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, it is my job to make connections with organizations and individuals in eastern Kentucky and raise awareness about the effects of BPA, particularly involving obesity. Since October 2012, I have made one presentation each month before community groups, health departments and church dinners to educate the public about BPA. After Kentucky House Bill 287--legislation that would have banned the use of BPA in food and beverage containers in the Commonwealth--failed in February, we have redoubled our efforts to start a conversation about the effects of this toxic chemical.
You, too, can help raise awareness about BPA. Join us by talking with your friends and neighbors about this issue. Make informed choices in your home and at the supermarket.
LOOK for the words "BPA Free" on labels of food containers.
SELECT fresh or frozen foods rather than canned. Purchasing locally-grown foods is a great way to support your area farmers and food canneries. Help your local food bank provide fresh foods to families that might not otherwise have access.
AVOID products made from polycarbonate plastic, sometimes labeled "PC" or "7."
RECOMMEND to local food retailers that they ask suppliers for BPA-Free products.
CONTACT Kentucky's state and federal legislators today and tell them that toxic chemicals like BPA have no place in our food or bodies. Demand that they support policies that protect our health.
SIGN a petition supporting the Safe Chemicals Act, which would ban the use of BPA and other toxic chemicals by reforming the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act.
For more information and to see how you can contribute, feel free to contact me at 859.200.0951 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.