Pesticides + GMOs
As our food system becomes more industrialized, more and more farm chemicals are winding up not just on our food, but also in the food we eat. Within the last 20 years, chemical farmers have overwhelmingly adopted genetically modified seeds, or GMOs, for crops like corn and soy, two common ingredients in canned soup. (There are more than a dozen different ingredients derived from corn and soy.) These seeds have been genetically engineered to withstand heavy sprayings of Roundup, and when that happens, the pesticide is absorbed by the plant and winds up in your food. Roundup is used so heavily, in fact, that scientists recently detected it in rain. Constant low-level exposure to the pesticide can cause obesity, heart problems, circulation problems, and diabetes, says Warren Porter, PhD, professor of environmental toxicity and zoology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. As if that's not bad enough, the process of genetic modification, when a plant's DNA is changed in a lab, not by nature, is known to cause spontaneous abortion and infertility in animals and has been linked to the skyrocketing rates of food allergies in people over the past decade.
Making homemade soup may be a little more time consuming than popping open a can, but it comes without the chemicals, and you can freeze it for those days and nights when cooking a full meal isn't feasible. Try one of these healthy soup recipes or just wing it. "Clean Out the Refrigerator" Soup is a great way to use up about-to-go-bad vegetables or small bits of pasta or dried beans you have lying around.
When you do make homemade soups, start with homemade stock. Like soup, it's a lot easier to make than you realize. "Use a pressure cooker," advises Joy Manning, nutrition editor of Prevention magazine. "Many stores sell chicken backs and necks for pennies a pound and, if not, a few pounds of whole chicken wings makes for a particularly rich stock." Or, save the bones, skin, and leftovers from the last chicken or turkey you carved up and use those. Cook everything at high pressure for 1 hour—"throw in a halved onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery or two if you have them," Manning suggests—strain with a fine sieve, and you have several quarts of amazing stock ready for your next soup-making session.
Alternatively, you can buy commercial stocks and soups packaged in glass or cartons, which are BPA free, or dry soup mixes that need nothing more than some water and an hour or two on your stove. Always opt for organic brands.