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Traditional canned barbeque fare and potentially hazardous grilled meat can make barbeques feel like a toxic minefield. Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to keep all of your favorite foods while protecting your health. Try these top five tips for throwing a nontoxic barbeque this summer!

Photo credit: Photo by Flickr user technikhil

Marinate Your Meat: The process of grilling meat creates compounds called HCAs, which have been linked to breast, prostate, and colon tumor growth. One of the easiest, and tastiest, ways you can reduce HCAs in your grilled meats is to soak meats in a marinade before throwing them on the grill. Choose vinegar or lemon based marinades: Their acidity prevents HCAs from sticking to the meat. Steer clear of sugary marinades that encourage charring; these should only be used in the last few minutes of grilling. And remember to marinate your food in a closed container in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

Wash everything thoroughly: The surface of fruits and veggies can be home to chemicals and pathogens. Rub your fruits and veggies for 30 to 60 seconds under warm running water. Wash inedible peels; even though you discard the peel, cutting into the fruit or peeling the fruit can transfer chemicals into the fruits flesh through your knife. For edible peels, peeling non-organic fruits and vegetables is an easy way to avoid the chemicals that are absorbed into the peel.

Rethink disposables: If you can lose the disposable silverware and plates, that’s great. If you can’t, what about losing one of them? Keep your disposable plates, but use regular silverware. Use the restaurant trick of keeping a bowl of hot water by the sink and dump used silverware in the bowl so it’s rinsed and ready for the dishwasher. Or add dishsoap to the water and give your soapy silverware a quick scrub and rinse when the party is over. Try bamboo or unbleached recycled paper products for dishes and napkins. Save money and use less packaging by buying in bulk.

Brands that don’t use BPA: Good news: They do exist! Bad news: There aren’t that many of them. Eden Organics has been using BPA-free liners on their cans since 1999. All of their cans except for their canned tomatoes are BPA-free. Vital Choice, Oregon’s Choice, Wild Planet, and Eco Fish all offer some BPA free canned fish, including tuna, salmon, and sardines. This blog from TreeHugger outlines all of your BPA-free canned food options.

Top 10 foods not to get canned: If you’re going to buy canned food, as with most things, some cans are worse than others. The Breast Cancer Fund has a handy, wallet sized tip sheet that shows you the top 10 canned foods to avoid.


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