For anyone looking to make their kitchen a healthier place, it is important to look beyond just the food that is being prepared. While organic, unprocessed food is one side of the healthy eating coin, the ways in which the food is cooked and stored are also key. You don't want to be storing your nutrient-dense food, which took time to source and prepare, in plastic or aluminum foil. Thus, an essential kitchen storage tool for me is beeswax food wrap, such as Bee's Wrap. Not only is it a more sustainable option because it is reusable, but it is also free from petrochemicals and heavy metals.
Plastic wrap, found in almost every kitchen in the modernized world, is single use and can leach phthalates into your food. Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in plastics and personal care products, which can interfere with hormone balance. Keeping hormones regulated is an essential piece of the health puzzle for PCOS, thyroid disorders and HPA axis regulation. Eliminating any extra contributors to hormone imbalance is a good step toward improved disease prevention and overall health, but it is not easy. In the modern world, we are inundated with endocrine-disrupting chemicals on a daily basis, from pollution, plastics, pesticides, and personal care products, also known as the 4 P's from Ayla Withee, MS, RD of Boston Functional Nutrition and the podcast Real Food Radio. She did a great episode on the effects of these chemicals on fertility and pregnancy, as petrochemicals can create estrogen dominance , so avoiding these is especially important for reproductive health.
Aluminum foil is also not a great storage option, as high levels of aluminum in the body can negatively affect the brain and central nervous system, as well as the reproductive system. I avoid this in my cookware as well as limiting the use of aluminum foil as much as possible.
So if the options for food storage the we grew up using are off the table, then what do we use instead? A more ecologically-friendly and health-promoting option, naturally. Products like Bee's Wrap or Abeego (no, they aren't paying me to say this, I just want you to be healthy!) can be used to cover and store many foods instead. These are made from cotton that is dipped in a mixture of beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. The beeswax keeps water out and moisture in, while providing anti-microbial properties and remaining breathable, which can help prevent mold. Jojoba is also anti-microbial, but it also gives the wrap some flexibility and more water-protecting quality. The resin helps to make the wraps slightly sticky, so that they hold their shape when covering something. I have tried to make my own version at home, but could not find tree resin to use, so they only worked moderately for food storage.
You can find cotton/beeswax-based food storage online or at health food stores. They come in a variety of sizes, from smaller pieces that are great for half a lemon or avocado, up to large sizes that are perfect for keeping your homemade sourdough fresh. Many brands also make sandwich versions that have a closure, making them perfect for school lunches. They can also be used to cover the top of a bowl of leftovers or pan of brownies to take to a potluck. To re-use them, simply wash with natural dish soap in cool water, dry and use again. The package says to replace after a few months, as they loose some of their ability to keep a good seal over time.
These aren't the best option for meats or wet foods like soup, so I opt for a glass jar or food container in those cases instead. Of course, there will be the occasional use of aluminum foil in my kitchen, such as covering a casserole while it bakes to keep it moist, but I am careful to avoid contact with the food and then toss it instead of using it to store the leftovers. A zip-top bag has its place now and then, too, but the goal is reducing the amount of plastics, harmful metals and other chemicals in your kitchen, not being perfect. Having natural food wrap and glass food storage containers on hand is an easy way to reduce the toxic load in your kitchen, while also being more mindful about the environmental impact of single-use items, keeping yourself healthy in the short and long-term.
Brine & Broth
I am a gut health-focused nutritionist and online health coach based in Southwest Wisconsin. My recipes and philosophies center around traditional, nutrient-dense foods that support robust gut health.