Sunday, October 5, 2008

Day 167 of our Green Year: Thumbs Down To Microwave Popcorn

On occasion, we have some popcorn (albeit it has not been for months) when we want a quiet night at home with a good movie. Well, after coming to the ranch, we noticed that the other people we live with enjoy microwave popcorn. Layla and I have never been big on microwave popcorn as it cannot beat the taste of freshly popped popcorn. After reading about what is in microwave popcorn, we are glad we don't eat it anymore.

A recent report by the FDA showed that a chemical coating that is in microwave popcorn bags breaks down when it is heated into a substance called perfluorooctanoic, which is a likely carcinogen according to the Environmental Protection Agency. One has to wonder why a company would use a chemical that breaks down into a carcinogen when it is heated, like in microwave popcorn. This goes along with another study that found an acid in the chemical that causes cancer in animals and 'likely to cause cancer in humans'.

The danger in microwave popcorn does not stop there as there is another chemical called iacetyl that is found in the FAKE butter flavoring. Amazingly, there is a condition called bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn workers lung) that some workers in popcorn factories suffer from since they inhale the fumes on a regular basis. Diacetyl can also cause lung disease if inhaled according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Due to all of this, we will ensure that when popcorn is bought, it is bought in the form of popcorn kernels (organic if possible), not in the form of microwave popcorn.

If you would like to make popcorn, there is a handy way to pop your own. On the stove, pour three tablespoons of olive oil and turn on the medium heat. Put two kernels in and when one is popped, pour one-third of a cup of corn into the pan and cover it. When it begins to pop, shake it constantly to let the steam escape from the popping kernels. Then take the pan away from the heat immediately, pour into a large bowl and season it to the taste you like.

As we said, we do not have popcorn often, but this is a great and quick method to pop popcorn naturally, and without the chemicals of microwave popcorn.

Jim from Spokane e-mailed us a week or so ago with a question about brewing your own beer and whether or not it is green. Here is the question:
"I am a homebrewer and I reuse bottles in my brewing process, but I was just wondering as I made my last batch what went into the growing of my hops, grains, yeast, and other ingredients to make my beer. Is it more eco-friendly to brew your own beer, or just buy it from the store? Is it more eco-friendly to drink beer or wine?"

I have not been able to find an answer between if it is more eco-friendly to drink beer or wine, but my personal view is that wine is better since it is made from the juice of grapes. If they are organic grapes, all the better.

In regards to the other question, it is absolutely better to brew your own beer, both for you and the environment and here is why.

It is estimated that farmers spray their hops about 14 times per year, with about 15 different pesticides and fungicides. Hops accounts for about five percent of the total volume of the beer, and 50 percent of the taste. If you get your hops from an organic source, as well as your barley, then you are doing a great service to the environment. Making sure you can buy your yeast and other ingredients from organic sources also means that you won't have any pesticides or herbicides in them, which does both you and the environment well.

Also, if you are going vegan, and fish is not on your menu, beer may be what you don't want. This is because many beers are classified with isinglass, which is a collagen made from the bladders of fish. Where those fish comes from and the chemicals they have in them is anyone's guess.

Since you re-use your bottles Jim, you are helping out even more by re-using before you re-cycle. Great Job :)

An update on renovations, the wall between the living room and kitchen has been torn out, allowing for better heat and air distribution throughout the house now.

Be sure to check out Our Green Year Journal to see what we bought today on our weekly trip to the store, and a picture of our green penalty list.