One Small Change: Ditch the Canned Goods!

This is why we're cutting back on the amount of canned food we consume!

My experience with switching to a real food diet? It was fun and interesting, but at times overwhelming.

I honestly didn’t mind the onslaught of changes and new information, because I like throwing myself in to things I’m into. But I know that a lot of people balk at changing their eating habits because it seems like a lot of work and it’s hard to know where to begin.

I believe that’s why 20 First Steps to a Real Food Diet is the most popular post on my blog to date. It breaks down a healthier way of eating into manageable steps.

There’s one small change that I didn’t include on that list: ditching canned goods! It’s a real food step in the same vein as the other items on the list–pretty simple to make, but has a big impact.

What’s wrong with canned food?

Well, you probably already know the answer to this! It’s the BPA, a toxin that seeps from the plastic liners in canned goods (and a host of other items made with plastic). Studies of BPA toxicity are ongoing, but it’s on the watchlist for being a hormone disruptor–leading to infertility and early onset puberty.

Not everyone is sold on the premise that BPA is harmful. For instance, this BPA manufacturing company is totally cool with it, and the FDA says we can keep eating canned goods while they look into it.

Those concerned with BPA should know that even products labeled as “BPA-free” may still leach hormone-disrupting chemicals.

BPA isn’t the only reason to boycott canned food, though. Some canned goods, such as soups, also contain MSG–a flavour enhancer that causes brain damage. Sodium and added sweeteners in canned vegetables and fruits are also a concern.

Fresh Produce

What are the benefits of buying fresh food instead of canned?

One thing I love about switching to a real food “diet” (a.k.a. the old-fashioned, common sense way of eating), is that there’s no deprivation–you’re actually getting the better end of the deal! Here’s what you get when you buy fresh food instead of canned:

  • Better taste (all the complexity of flavour is still intact)
  • Better nutrition (when you eat closer to the source, less nutrients are lost along the way)
  • More variety (you have a lot more options for preparation when you buy a whole, fresh peach!)
  • Less packaging (a lot of resources go into making a can. And a lot of cans end up in landfills)

Sometimes fresh food is less expensive, too! Soup, for instance. Instead of buying a couple of large cans to feed your family for one meal, you can make a large batch of soup and feed your family all week.

What canned foods do we still buy?

Although Eric and I have drastically cut back our canned food purchases, we still buy a few things canned–at least for now. Here’s what we buy canned:

  • Wild Alaskan salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Tomatoes
  • Coconut milk
  • Pineapple (a couple times per year)

And that’s it! We haven’t bought canned peaches, pears, green beans, soup, refried beans, etc for years!

Next time you go to the grocery store think about what you can buy fresh, instead of reaching for canned good stand-bys.


If you want to dive into healthy, real food eating, my cookbook is a good resource! Real Food for the Real Homemaker has 75+ recipes that are simple to make and use wholesome, familiar ingredients, as well as 8 chapters on practical ways to make real food cooking a reality in your kitchen! Pick up a copy HERE.


  1. Not buying canned food is a big change for us. We are on a monthly income and rely heavily on canned food at the end of the month. But I have cut our consumption quite a bit. Thanks for sharing. Hello from Unprocessed Fridays!

  2. Do you know of any cans that don’t contain BPA, or is it pretty standard?
    And I was wondering what evidence there is for MSG causing brain damage.

  3. If you are worried about the BPA in canned food, I have read that tomato products are actually the WORST food to buy. Unlike many other foods that do not affect the lining of the can, the acidity in tomatoes eats away at it and releases the toxins into your food. If I were you, I would not worry about eating anything out of a can EXCEPT the tomatoes that you are currently eating.

  4. It is easy to get started in home canning, then you can choose what goes in, and process in jars. Just follow the processing times to the letter/temperature to make sure you don’t poison your family šŸ™‚

  5. This is a great post.
    I wonder how you feel about home canned iteam?

    I am an avid gardener and canning food just goes hand in hand with gardening.

    My jars are glass, but the lids are coated in a bpa “free” plastic lining. On one hand the food isn’t up against the lid so perhaps this is minimal leaching, but I think this post makes a good point. Fresh Food is always better.

    1. I have not done home canning, so I’m not sure. But I agree that if the food isn’t touching the plastic lid lining, it’s probably not too bad.

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