Banana leaves can be used in the kitchen for anything you might use aluminum foil for. This makes using banana leaves in cooking or baking a great change towards sustainable and healthier living. If you are growing your own banana plant, you’re winning eco friendly points even more!
How are banana leaves more sustainable than aluminum foil?
Aluminum is the most widely used metal in the world. You can find aluminum in cookware, deodorant and even medicine such as antacids. Aluminum to make aluminum foil is mined from bauxite ore. Bauxite ore is most abundant in tropical and rainforest regions.
There are environmental impacts associated with each stage of aluminum production, from extraction to processing. – The Environmental Literacy Council
Aluminum mining contributes to very large areas of deforestation in these regions. Reducing aluminum products can help save the rainforest contributing to climate change. Switching to bamboo products is another way to help safe the rain forest!
Once the aluminum is mined, it needs to be refined. This refining process involves smelting releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases. A lesser known greenhouse gas is called perfluorocarbons (PFC). PFCs are actually one of the most potent and longest lasting greenhouse gases known as a fluorinated greenhouse gas.
Now that you know the aluminum industry contributes largely to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, lets compare the process of collecting banana leaves to use as a more sustainable alternative.
For starters, banana leaves do not need processed. They are cut from the banana plant and packaged frozen. Banana leaves are 100% eco friendly. Not only can they be used in cooking, but are gaining popularity in food packaging.
There is no deforestation. Banana leaves can be removed from live banana plants and they can keep on living to produce their fruit.
There are no greenhouse gas emissions from processing banana leaves as there is no processing.
Once the banana leaves are used for cooking or wrapping food in place of aluminum foil, it can be composted. Composting brings the banana leaves back to nature and makes one of the best compostable material providing a great deal of potassium back to the earth.
How are banana leaves healthier than aluminum foil to cook with?
Bananas bring healthy natural nutrients into food when cooked with. In fact, the whole banana plant is edible. Knowing this can help you feel 100% safe concerning your health when cooking with banana leaves. The real concern is how cooking with aluminum foil can impact your health.
I talk more about aluminum foil in my health warning for those wrapping their feet with it as a way to treat colds, inflammation, pain, or detox. The opposite of detox is happening with aluminum foil use. Aluminum is a heavy metal that the body never needs. Once exposed to salts when cooking with meat or any other salty meal, the aluminum can leach out of the foil and be absorbed into the food.
What can happen after you ingest aluminum foil?
For most healthy people, aluminum will be eliminated from the body through urination. It is not known how much you could possibly ingest after a chemical reaction between salts in food and the aluminum foil. Those who already have kidney disease cannot eliminate it so easy and this would cause an accumulation of this heavy metal in your body. Those with diabetes are particularly susceptible to heavy metal poisoning.
Some studies suggest that Alzheimer’s could result from excessive aluminum exposure as well as bone and brain disease according to the aluminum toxicology profile. Those who have the cholesterol gene are also at greater risk of Alzheimer’s.
Bone disease have been observed in younger children. The aluminum can block the absorption of phosphate when in the stomach. Phosphate is needed for healthy bones especially when children are growing.
Cooking with banana leaves instead of aluminum foil reduces all of these risks. Banana leaves are 100% safe with no health risks.
Where can you find banana leaves?
The change from cooking with aluminum foil to banana leaves is a rather new concept for us in the United States. Sometimes it is a challenge to find a grocery store that carries them. Stores such as Sprouts, Whole Foods, and ethnic grocery stores are most likely to carry them.
Amazon is a great place to find them as well to give them a try!
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You can also try growing your own banana tree to use the banana leaves AND get bananas after a year or two. The Dwarf Cavendish Banana plant can be grown indoors year round anywhere. The plant produces a new leaf about every two weeks. The older leaves will yellow and die anyhow so why not use those leaves before they start to die. Of course the amount of leaves produced from one plant won’t replace the amount of aluminum foil we use, but it’s fun to have every once in a while or grow a banana forest in your backyard if you live in the right place with space!
Banana leaves are more sustainable and a healthier choice to cook with than aluminum foil.
Banana leaves are 100% eco friendly!
Aluminum can leach out of the foil when salts are used in cooking.
Aluminum is a heavy metal the body never needs with health effects for children and those who have kidney disease.
Aluminum industry contributes to deforestation and the emission of greenhouse gases.
Protect your health and the health of the environment with a simple change in the kitchen. One little change to banana leaves can make a real difference.