What Do Those Recycling Symbols Mean, and Which Are Potentially Harmful?

I’m sure at one point you’ve noticed the three arrow triangle with a number in the middle on many of the plastic containers around your home, and wondered what in the heck do they mean.  I’ve found and reprinted below, an article from “The Daily Green” a consumer’s guide from GoodHousekeeping.com.  Particularly important to note are the ones that are suspected for releasing harmful toxins such as BPAs as they come into contact with food over time or when heated.  Here is a breakdown of what those symbols mean, and more importantly, a descriptive guide to help remember to avoid types 3, 6 and 7!

Number 1 Plastics PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) Found in: Soft drink, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles;  peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; ovenable  food trays. Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling  programs. Recycled into: Polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture,  carpet, paneling, straps, (occasionally) new containers

PET plastic is the most common for single-use bottled beverages, because it  is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to recycle. It poses low risk of leaching  breakdown products. Recycling rates remain relatively low (around 20%), though  the material is in high demand by remanufacturers.

Number 2 Plastics HDPE (high density polyethylene) Found in: Milk jugs, juice  bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some  trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box  liners Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs,  although some allow only those containers with necks. Recycled into:   Laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, pens, recycling containers, floor tile,  drainage pipe, lumber, benches, doghouses, picnic tables, fencing

HDPE is a versatile plastic with many uses, especially for packaging. It  carries low risk of leaching and is readily recyclable into many  goods.

Number 3 Plastics V (Vinyl) or PVC Found in: Window  cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food  packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows,  piping Recycling:  Rarely recycled; accepted by some plastic lumber  makers. Recycled into: Decks, paneling, mudflaps, roadway gutters,  flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats, etc.

PVC is tough and weathers well, so it is commonly used for piping, siding and  similar applications. PVC contains chlorine, so its manufacture can release  highly dangerous dioxins.  Harvard-educated Dr. Leo Trasande of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine advises  consumers to avoid number 3 plastics for food and drinks. (If you’re unsure,  look for the little symbol that should be printed on the container. Some brands  have left the symbols off, which is a major problem.)

Why? Number 3 plastics may release toxic breakdown products (including  pthalates) into food and drinks.  The risk is highest when containers start wearing out, are put through the  dishwasher or when they are heated (including microwaved).

Number 4 Plastics LDPE (low density polyethylene) Found in: Squeezable bottles;  bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; clothing;  furniture; carpet Recycling: LDPE is not often recycled through  curbside programs, but some communities will accept it. Plastic shopping bags  can be returned to many stores for recycling. Recycled into: Trash can  liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping  ties, floor tile

LDPE is a flexible plastic with many applications. Historically it has not  been accepted through most American curbside recycling programs, but more and  more communities are starting to accept it.

Number 5 Plastics PP (polypropylene) Found in: Some  yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, medicine  bottles Recycling: Number 5 plastics can be recycled through some  curbside programs. Recycled into: Signal lights, battery cables,  brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle  racks, rakes, bins, pallets, trays

Polypropylene has a high melting point, and so is often chosen for containers  that must accept hot liquid. It is gradually becoming more accepted by  recyclers.

Number 6 Plastics PS (polystyrene) Found in:   Disposable  plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles,  compact disc cases Recycling:  The material was long on environmentalists’  hit lists for dispersing widely across the landscape, and for being notoriously  difficult to recycle. Most places still don’t accept it, though it is gradually  gaining traction.  Number 6 plastics can be recycled  through some curbside programs. Recycled into: Insulation, light  switch plates, egg cartons, vents, rulers, foam packing, carry-out  containers

Number 6 plastics (polystyrene) are made into soft Styrofoam-style cups as  well as rigid foams and hard plastic products, so remember to look for those  little numbers in the arrows (don’t feel bad if you need a magnifying glass). Avoid using them as much as possible.

Why? Number 6 plastics can release potentially toxic breakdown  products (including styrene). Evidence suggests polystyrene can leach potential toxins into foods. Get this: particularly when heated! That insulated  coffee cup — the one that ‘knows’ when to keep your drink warm — doesn’t seem  so smart anymore does it?

Number 7 Plastics Miscellaneous Found in: Three- and  five-gallon water bottles, ‘bullet-proof’ materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and  computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon Recycling:   Number 7 plastics have traditionally not been recycled,  though some curbside programs now take them. Recycled into: Plastic  lumber, custom-made products

A wide range of plastic resins that don’t fit into the other six categories  are lumped into number 7. Some are quite safe, but the ones to worry about are  the hard polycarbonate varieties, as found in various drinking containers (like  Nalgene bottles) and rigid plastic baby bottles.

Why? Studies have shown polycarbonate can leach bisphenol A (BPA), a  potential hormone disruptor, into liquids. According to Trasande, no level of  bisphenol A (BPA) exposure is known to be truly safe, and in August a government panel  expressed ‘some concern’ that the ingredient causes neural and behavioral  problems in children.

NOTE: Not long after I posted this on my blog, my friend Carly Alyssa Thorne, who is a holistic Life Coach with a medical background shared this evidence on BPA linked with obesity in kids and teens.  http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/18/bpa-linked-with-obesity-in-kids-and-teens/ 



Award-Winning Wine Cheaper Than Two Buck Chuck!

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is having a sale Sept. 14, 15 & 16 on The Big Kahuna award-winning wine for only $1 per 750 ml bottle! Limit of 4 bottles per person.  I figure it couldn’t hurt to spend $1 give this wine a try to see if it’s any good! As the weather gets cooler, some palatable red wine is good to have on hand for Coq Au Vin, Beef Bourguignon, or Gluhwein (mulled wine)!

Also, Vons / Pavillions is having a sale on Foster Farms Whole Chicken for only $.77 per pound!  So, for a great budget meal, here’s a recipe using both ingredients.  Below I have both Julia Child’s original version, and below that, a modified easier version of Julia’s recipe for Coq Au Vin.

Note: Bookmark my website here as a one-stop shop for links to almost every supermarket’s Weekly Ads. Let me know if there is a market that you’d like me to add!

Coq Au Vin

Recipe courtesy of Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One, Alfred A. Knopf, 1995


  • 3 to 4-ounce chunk lean bacon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds frying chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 3 cups young, full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, or Chianti
  • 1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 to 24 Brown-Braised Onions, recipe follows
  • 1/2 pound Sautéed Mushrooms, recipe follows
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • Fresh parsley leaves


Remove the rind and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4-inch across and 1-inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry.

In a heavy large heavy bottomed casserole or Dutch oven, saute the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned (temperature of 260 degrees F for an electric skillet). Remove to a side dish.

Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole. (360 degrees F for the electric skillet.)

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly (300 degrees F) for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.

Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.

Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for 1 to 2 minutes, skimming off fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat, and discard bay leaf.

Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (beurre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

Arrange the chicken in a casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If the dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered for no longer than 1 hour or cool, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Shortly before serving, bring the casserole to a simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is heated through.

Serve from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with sprigs of parsley.

Brown-Braised Onions:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 18 to 24 peeled white onions, about 1-inch in diameter
  • 1/2 cup brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine, or water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and saute over moderate heat for 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Braise them as follows: Pour in the stock, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 15 to 20 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.

Bake them as follows: Transfer the onions and their sauteing fat to a shallow baking dish or casserole just large enough to hold them in 1 layer. Set uncovered in upper third of a preheated 350 degree F oven for 40 to 50 minutes, turning them over once or twice. They should be very tender, retain their shape and be a nice golden brown. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.

Sautéed Mushrooms:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions, optional
  • Salt and pepper

Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their saute the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

Toss the shallots or green onions, if using, with the mushrooms. Saute over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Sautéed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

Coq Au Vin (easier version)

Julia Child’s recipe modified courtesy of Jenna Weber of PBS Food


  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • 3 lbs chicken breasts and legs, skin on (two breasts and two drumsticks)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 10 oz sliced mushrooms
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt (or, to taste)


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Fry the bacon over medium heat in a dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot.  After it’s fried, remove the bacon and place on paper towels to drain. Once cool, chop bacon and set aside. Keep the bacon grease in the pot.
  3. Turn heat to high and place chicken, skin-side down in the pot. Sear chicken until golden brown on both sides, about eight minutes. Then, add the onions, garlic, bay leaves and rosemary. Continue sautéing until the onions begin to soften, about six minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth and red wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, carefully remove the chicken from the pot and place in an oven-safe dish. Keep chicken warm in the oven while you work on the sauce.
  6. Stir the flour and butter (butter should melt instantly in the pot) into the red wine sauce. Bring back up to a boil and stir constantly—-sauce should be begin to thicken. Add mushrooms, chopped bacon, salt and pepper and continue cooking for 10-12 minutes. Keep in mind that the sauce will also thicken up a bit when it cools.
  7. Place chicken back in sauce and serve with roasted potatoes, noodles or a big green salad.

Yield: 4 servings

Gluten Allergy: Latest Self-Diagnosed/Misdiagnosed Trend or…?

Growing up, I never heard of anyone being allergic to bread or peanut butter.  Never.  Then again, you didn’t hear about people being diagnosed with cancer as much back then, and many point to the advances in screening procedures as the reason for the increases in cancer.  And while this possibly explains the increase in diagnosed cases of cancer, some research points to other possibilities for coeliac disease.  Coeliac disease occurs in people whose bodies cannot digest gluten, a protein found in wheat that gives bread its elasticity and “chewiness.”  This protein remains undigested in some people, and triggers the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine, causing diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain.

Researchers at the Mayo clinic in the USA recently analyzed blood samples from Air Force recruits that had been stored since the early 1950s for gluten antibodies. Barring any external influences, the rate of instances testing positive should be consistent with our current rate of 1%. However, they found that the number of positive results were less than a quarter of the 1% that we find occurring today. This indicates that coeliac disease was rare 60 years ago. Based on these results, a Mayo clinic spokesperson attributed the increase in coeliac disease to something happening in a pervasive manner to our environment. So, the question is: What has happened to wheat?

There are those who point to our diet for the rise in coeliac disease and milder forms of gluten intolerance. They point out that the modern western diet is higher in grain carbohydrates than in past generations; and, that modern wheat is very different from the wheat of our ancestors due to hybridization that has changed the proportion of gluten to increase the amount of protein. They go on further to point out that until the 19th century, wheat was also usually mixed with other grains, beans and nuts; pure wheat flour has been milled into refined white flour only during the last 200 years.

However, although we’ve been using refined white flour for the last 200 years, this does not explain completely the rapid increase in coeliac disease from the 1950’s to 2010’s. Since the 1970’s, we’ve seen the western diet swing back to a more natural, organic, whole grain diet away from refined white flour. So what has changed in recent years that may be contributing to the rise in food allergy?

Gene-modified (GM) ingredients suddenly appeared in  2/3rds of all US processed foods between 1997 and 1999. This was due to a  Supreme Court ruling allowing for the first time, the patenting of life  forms for commercialization. I often wonder if increased food allergy is, in fact, an allergy to genetically modified crops like wheat and peanuts. There have been instances where Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been proven to be harmful, and there are stories and links that you can read to decide for yourself. Europe and India have banned imports of American and Canadian products using GMO ingredients.

Do I trust GMO crops? No, I have a “wait and see” attitude about accepting them. And until they have proven safe after decades of use, I’ll still consider them as foods to be avoided. The human body is a complex organism with a delicate balance of chemicals, as we learned with Thalidomide. Genetic modification changes how the human body chemically interacts in the digestion with a different foreign body. Whether you believe GMOs are harmful or not, one thing remains certain: GMOs are inadvertently cross-polinating with the crops of those who choose NOT to grow GMOs. And unfortunately, this makes their crops into hybrids that cannot be undone, or produce seeds that can be replanted for future crops. It’s bad enough that hybrids keep us dependent on commercial seed producers for our crop seeds. I say we keep GMos from contaminating our heirloom crops and livestock, so we can preserve some of our older strains of diversity. The links below are of others who do not trust in the safe use of GMOs, and provided for you to decide if their concerns have merit.

In 1989, when dozens of Americans died and several thousands were afflicted and impaired by a genetically altered version of the food supplement – L-tryptophan. A settlement of $2 billion dollars was paid by Showa Denko, Japan’s third largest chemical company. (Mayeno and Gleich, 1994). http://todayyesterdayandtomorrow.wordpress.com/2007/06/09/gm-tryptophan-ems-killed-37-and-permanently-disabled-1500-people/

In a study by the International Journal of Biological Sciences found that Monsanto genetically modified maize had effects on kidney and liver function, the two major organs responsible for filtering toxic substances in our body from digestion. Also frequently found were effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells.

Citation: Disabled World News (2010-01-30) – Data strongly suggests GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity:  http://www.disabled-world.com/fitness/nutrition/foodsecurity/monsanto.php#ixzz25ekwkbFP

In 2005, a decade-long Australian project to develop genetically modified peas with built-in pest-resistance from genetic splicing had been abandoned after tests showed they caused allergic lung damage in mice.

Disabled World News (2009-09-22) – Genetically modified foods information including list of GM foods with dna changes and pros and cons of GM food:  http://www.disabled-world.com/fitness/gm-foods.php#ixzz25efB6WLZ



Anthony Bourdain’s Series Finale: His Last Layover with No Reservations at Travel Channel

For those foodies who haven’t seen or heard, Anthony Bourdain, author of New York Times Bestseller “Kitchen Confidential” and Paula Deen gadfly, has been featured in countless ads for “The Final Tour,” his series finale as host of Travel Channel’s “The Layover” & “No Reservations.”
This past May he announced that he accepted an offer from CNN to bring his Emmy-winning Zero Point Zero production team to CNN as part of CNN’s effort to bolster their lower viewership on weekends. This move comes as no surprise since the much sensationalized so-called “feud” between him and Paula Deen.  This trumped-up “feud” began over his (in my opinion spot on) remarks, regarding her touting over-the-top grossly unhealthy food to the American public on The Food Network.  He had often referred to her as “the most dangerous person in America,” for her potential to kill more Americans than the terrorists with her recipes. When Paula Deen finally revealed her Type 2 diabetes three years after her diagnosis to say she was now a spokesperson for a diabetes drug, many people felt it was disingenuous that she had continued promoting her cookbooks’ recipes during those years of silence. Rumors of a feud were refueled when Bourdain famously tweeted, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”
I’ve heard his snarky comments firsthand, and I speculate that there was a tiny bit of truth hidden in his comments about playing “Paula Deen’s bitch” after the Travel Channel had been acquired by The Food Network. I’m sure The Food Network tends to favor those personalities who can earn them additional income streams by pitching a line of magazines, cookbooks, cookware, tableware and other items bearing The Food Network logo.
Travel Channel depends on contacts or “fixers” abroad to help in making the arrangements for places to do their location shots.  Bourdain has expressed excitement at the resources at his disposal by joining the CNN family. He’s definitely looking forward to traveling to some places that have been more difficult to attempt a visit in the past. So, coupled with the fact that he will have the same production team, expect his show to be as good if not better. If anything, he may become even more snarky in this food commentary. Because now, he won’t be restrained with having to “play nice” with certain celebrity chefs since they are no longer working for the same network. Let’s see how well CNN deals with his bad boy forays into illegal substances (absinthe in Paris, ganja in Jamaica, happy pizza in Cambodia, etc.) and frequent smattering of bleeped out F-bombs.
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