To read more about why I try to avoid BPA see Kicking the Cans: part 1.
I will admit right now that my home will never be 100% free of cans. At the very least I will have food storage stored in no. 10 cans (think the really big ones like restaurants use). While not all have BPA linings some do and I cannot be sure that mine don't.
Right now I have only a few types of foods in cans. I have no. 10 cans for food storage (of course), tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, and pumpkin puree. There might also be one or two other random cans in there that never get used. I also buy canned tuna and salmon on occasion. Or at least did. I am still debating on that one. On the one hand I do not want the BPA exposure and can just use fresh/frozen versions. On the other hand, these versions are more expensive and using canned allows me to buy more produce/whole grains.
That is one of the problems with giving up canned goods: weighing the cost vs health benefits. But to be honest, that is something I and many other people weigh on a weekly basis when they are doing their grocery shopping. Should I buy the 3-for1 frozen pizzas for dinner or make something using fresh/whole ingredients? It is the reason I haven't given up my canned tomatoes (which are particularly bad because their acidity causes the BPA to leach out faster). I've been buying my organic canned tomatoes from Costco because they are a great price for organic (some say that it doesn't make sense to buy organic if you are buying in BPA lined cans, but if I am going to be buying canned anyway, one bad thing is better than two, right?) but after I run out of my stockpile I will not be buying canned anymore.*
So what will I be doing instead? Using fresh or frozen. I have big plans of growing lots of tomatoes this summer (I have seeds started) and will freeze and can those (yes, canning lids have BPA but if done correctly they do not come in contact with the food...and besides, it is better than nothing!).
Another alternative is to buy tomatoes in tetra pak containers or glass jars. But these two have one big issue - price. These alternatives can be expensive. Tetra paks can also be difficult to recycle and many states do not offer recycling for these shelf-stable containers. Glass jars will probably be what I buy when I must. Coupons can be sought out and combined with a sale (though it is important to check the label to see what is added!) to bring the price down. The jars can then be washed and reused over and over for storage.
I got rid of canned fruit and vegetables a long time ago and do not regret it. First of all, I do not want to use these on a regular basis anyway because canning causes the produce to lose many important nutrients. I instead choose fresh and frozen. I do plan on canning my own produce this summer, though, so I will have it for shelf stable food storage. Or for whenever my craving for peach cobbler hits and I
have no time do not want to wait to thaw peaches :)
As for my canned pumpkin, I plan on roasting a bunch this fall to freeze. Roasting a pumpkin is easy and I can freeze the result in amounts that are convenient for me (many times I do not need a whole can of pumpkin). This will result in less waste, too.
While cans are very convenient, I do feel that limiting our use of them is important to our health. Not to mention the fact that many alternatives to the cans are much more earth friendly as even recycling is not a perfect process (think growing your own food, reusable glass jars, freezing in reusable containers).
* The demand for BPA free products has caused the industry to reevaluate the linings of their cans and there are now several options available. Check these two links to see which companies and which of their products are available BPA free. For instance, Eden Foods beans are BPA free (NOT the tomatoes) and Muir Glen started packaging their tomatoes in BPA free cans on their last harvest. It also appears that Trader Joes has BPA free packaging for their beans, corn, beef, poultry, and fish (!), though I think I would like to contact the company myself to get a definite answer on that one. While this is good to know for when we need convenience, in the long run I think that limiting cans is still the best way to go. It also ensures that we will not learn in a few years that the alternative is not much better (don't you hate when that happens?).
So what do you think? Have you eliminated cans already? Do you think you will you limit their use in the future?