Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Food Safe Options For Kids Lunches

After yesterday's post, it was clear that I had just touched the surface of a big issue for many of us. Myself included. It would be easy to become overwhelmed by trying to make our food storage safer when it seems that most every option has a drawback, whether it's another health risk, a matter of practicality, or one of economic feasibility.


We've all used products that were not deemed "safe" by todays standards. And we probably will come into contact with these in the future no matter how careful we may be. One cannot become paranoid or obsessive about the issue. God has not given us a Spirit of fear! Keep in mind that God made our bodies to be very resilient and able to heal itself to a degree. So if we do get some exposure to BPA or another toxin, there is no need to panic! If our body is healthy, it will work to overcome the invading chemical that isn't good for us.


In my humble opinion, the problem today is that we are exposed to so much that is not natural or in line with God's creation, that our bodies are on overload and can't keep up with the battle. My goal is to help each of us consider how we can reduce the assault on our systems and make better choices that will become a part of our lifestyle and our children's lifestyles in the future. 


Man is always hoping to make a "better mouse trap". And while that can be good for some things, time has shown that other things are best as they are. Traditional doesn't have to be a bad word or always modified! In considering a new product, we really should be asking some basic logical questions, such as how will this new way of doing something impact God's creation and is it counter to how He designed life? We may not always have a neat and tidy answer, but at least we should try. 


So, on to address some of the concerns from yesterday, particularly kids lunch options that are safer.


Wax Paper Alternative

This seems like it could be an option, although it is often made from a petroleum product and many will feel that is not a viable choice. It has been around for a long time and few, if any health concerns have risen from its use. However, there are brands that are available that are "natural" such as Natural Value. They make an entire line of waxed paper products that are made from unbleached fibers, non-toxic when incinerated, and safe for the landfill (which makes me think they will break down or compost like organic materials). They even claim it is microwave safe, but I wouldn't use the microwave anyway. This product comes in both bags for sandwiches or rolls for other uses.


Another line of waxed products is made by If You Care, which uses soybean wax. Again, it is non-toxic, chlorine free, and the company states they are compostable. Unfortunately, I could not find that they made a sandwich sack. You'd have to buy a roll, wrap a sandwich and tape it shut - perhaps with a cute little sticker on the front.




In summing up wax paper, I would not heat food in it under any circumstances. It's application would be limited but certainly worth keeping some of this around the house.


Stainless Steel
I was thrilled to find this product for taking lunches to school! I would have said that stainless steel was not a viable option, but I take that back. Perhaps not every kid would think this line is cool, but Happy Tiffin makes a very nice product with an insulated carrier that would work for many applications. If your child isn't the sandwich type and prefers left overs, this just might be a solution, but you need to know they are not totally leak-proof.


Here's what the company says about their product's construction:


"Happy Tiffin latch tiffins and pyramid tiffins are manufactured of AISI 201 stainless steel. This steel is lighter, 30% stronger, and provides superior corrosion resistance than 18/10, 18/1 (300 series) counterparts. That makes for a light and strong stainless steel food container. 18/10 stainless steel is great if you are shopping for flatware, but it’s not what you want in a tiffin!"





Another stainless steel alternative is the Lunch Bot. These would be a very reasonable option for your younger children and it appears they would fit into a standard lunch box, although I haven't measured to be sure. Made from Type 304 stainless steel (commonly known as 18/8), these containers are food grade, durable, and easy to clean. My only concern is that they are made in China, but they are tested to be lead free by a California lab.  I just hesitate to buy more from China because of their religious persecution of Christians. It seems this company would be above board in their manufacturing, but each must make his or her own decision.



Glass Alternatives
I know glass seems unthinkable, and I wouldn't recommend it for small children, but... I have sent my teenager to school with a mason jar of soup. She has access to a kitchen (because it is a small private school) and she can heat it up in a pot on the stove. Keep in mind that mason jars are extremely durable. We've dropped them on our hard laminate floor without them breaking. However, they certainly can break and if they do, your lunch is over. You can't salvage any of it. This might work for a small minority of readers, as it does my family.

One more company worth mentioning, Life Without Plastic is an on-line company that offers an array of alternatives (including the Lunch Bots) and glass baby bottles. Of course, you will need to use silicone nipples, but it's a good choice. 

Update (3/5/10): Country Life Naturals, an etsy shop, has a wonderful line of linen bags for sandwiches and other uses. These can be purchased with a BPA-free nylon lining OR without any kind of lining.


It may seem overwhelming at first, but the good news is... there are alternatives out there. And most require only a one time purchase since these items are made to last. These beat one option I read on-line: steaming cabbage leaves to wrap a sandwich up and tying it with a string of licorice! Seriously!


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