Canned Food Environment Effects

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Supermarkets boast of them – rows upon rows of canned products from canned apples to canned zucchini paste. It seems that we have accepted store-bought canned goods as part of modern life without giving deeper thought to their effects on the environment and to our health. Well, now is a good time to secure information on their advantages and disadvantages!

Advantages

You might not realize it but canned goods have advantages beyond serving convenient functions for those times when cooking is a chore, or when you are camping, or when you are living on a budget.

First, with the thinner materials used for the cans, greater energy savings can be had. In olden days, cans were 40 percent thicker and heavier, which means that the energy consumed was at least 40 percent greater than it is today.  Still, you will contend that the raw materials used would have to mined and processed, which will consume vast amounts of energy.  Luckily for us eco-conscious individuals, recycling just one aluminum can translates to energy savings of 95 percent while recycled steel cans will save at least 60 percent energy.  Basically, the more you recycle cans, the greater your contribution to energy savings!

Second, canned products are more sustainable than other packaging options.  For example, paper packaging means more trees are cut, not to mention that there is a greater chance for contamination since it can easily be punctured.  And then there is also the fact that the canning process ensures that harmful microorganisms are killed before the can is tightly sealed.  And when it is sealed, microorganisms in the air cannot enter the contents, thereby, protecting consumers from food poisoning and other health problems.  Of course, this is with the assumption that safety precautions like keeping to the expiry date are followed.

Third, and this is attested to by expert nutritionists, canned foods are as nutritious and as fresh as frozen and fresh foods.  In fact, unlike most fresh foods picked before their ripened conditions to account for the travel time to the supermarkets, canned foods are usually made from ripened fruits and vegetables, which are richer sources of nutrients than their unripe counterparts.  Plus, you also have to keep in mind the carbon footprint left by the handling and storage of frozen and fresh foods before they reach consumers’ tables are significant.  Now, contrast that with canned foods that, as soon as these are packed, will require no energy beyond the space they occupy on the shelves.

Disadvantages

Of course, canned foods have their disadvantages, too.  First, the same nutritionists point to the substantial reduction of vitamins and minerals that are sensitive to heat during the canning process.  Think vitamin C and folic acid, two important nutrients.

Second, the amount of sodium, salt, sugar and other preservatives can be harmful to health.  To counteract it, read the labels and choose the low-sodium, low-sugar, and low-salt canned goods.

Third, and most alarming, the presence of the bisphenol A (BPA) in the cans lining has negative effects on human health and environmental condition.  Hopefully, with manufacturers removing said chemical from their cans, your family is still relatively safe.

In conclusion, canned foods are good for you and for the environment.  Just remember to eat them moderately and to recycle the cans!

Photo by: Patrick Hermans –
Fotolia

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Comments

  1. Hello Green living, nice info! I would still prefer to buy fresh food than canned food, considering the chemicals that have to be included in the can to keep things “fresh” for several months (even years), plus can recycling is something that not all cities have, but yeap, in the end being a conscious consumer that considers local factors is the best way to go 😉

  2. Informative and thought provoking. Thanks. I might add, if you are able to grow and can your own food or a portion of it, you should have a better product in a glass jar that you can use over and over again.

  3. Karla says:

    Fresh food is better in all ways than canned food. The taste is very different. The world are moving too fast that people buy more canned food because it’s convenient functions and don’t have time to grow it, in case of vegetables and others that can be grow. Remember ever to eat healthy and get out this harmful chemicals that affect your body in the long run.

  4. I would like to eat fresh food than canned food because more nutrition I will get from fresh food, but some time when I don’t have time to cook fresh food, or I want to go to camping I use the canned food

  5. We should all embrace GREEN living. We should always weigh the advantages from the disadvantages. I will never ever compromise the safety and health of the people I love. This is the reason why I take time and effort to buy organic products for their consumption.

  6. Aisha Juma says:

    well, I am glad to have learn all this. The information given here brings forth a whole new dimension of canned foods. As said in the conclusion do eat healthy but when time is crucial at the moment… do use canned foods but moderately, It is a time sever after all. But always remember health comes firs in life and no one knows better than yourself to what is good for you.

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