Here are some factoids that I just learned about the microwave that may change your mind about using it to cook or even heat up your food. Microwaves are electromagnetic radiation. Its not nuclear radiation but it still has the ability to change the molecular make up of what is being "microwaved". We were all taught that microwaves just energize the atoms in the food and make them go faster thus heating it up. In a way that is true, but its more than that. In the process of making the atoms energize, they also get pulled and stretched and can "ionize" which means electrons can become free radicals and the molecular make up of the food is essentially different. This happens even more dramatically when the power is set to high. But who really lowers the power on a microwave? I certainly don't unless I am defrosting. Usually I just hit start and the default setting is high. Well, the high setting has much more of a destructive effect on the food that is cooking. Most of the nutrients will be destroyed as well as any enzymes. The food will be completely dead and do nothing to nourish your body once eaten. This is sad news to me since I do rely on the microwave quite heavily but I have some ideas to limit my usage.
1) I will put all the items I want to defrost outside in the heat (at least in the summer this works nicely)
2) I am going out this week to purchase a high quality toaster/broiler/convection oven
I am going to get one that will work quickly, maybe not as quickly as a microwave but at least I know I won't be ionizing my food. Free radicals are not something you want in your body. Back when I lived in NYC in my tiny apartment, I did not have a microwave. I look back and think, "how did I survive?" The answer is easy, I ate out every night!!
So I am not saying to toss your microwave out the window immediately, but I am saying to try and limit your use. We all know that cooking destroys nutrients in food and that the best way to get those nutrients is to eat food raw. Well, the microwave does even more damage to the food than traditional cooking does. So keep that in mind when you think about your food. Plan ahead for a slower cooking method. It will pay off in the end.
Speaking of cooking methods, how about those wonderful non-stick pots and pans that you spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on. Names like calphalon or circulon or whatever. They all have a coating of teflon on them that is absolutely toxic. The teflon, when heated, leaches into your food and can cause toxicity or disease. This is especially true if the teflon is scratched and then cooked on but it still happens if the teflon is unscarred. Heating teflon above 200F will cause it to release toxic gases that can cause flu-like symptoms in humans. The chemical compound used to make teflon (perfluorooctanoic acid) is a known carcinogen and Dupont (the makers of teflon) settled for $300 million in a 2004 lawsuit filed by residents near its manufacturing plant in Ohio and West Virginia based on groundwater pollution from this chemical. Currently this chemical is not regulated by the EPA. So how does this nonstick substance still make its way onto our cooking tools? I am really not sure why its still being used but all I can say is that Dupont is a huge company with deep pockets and they fund the studies that say teflon is safe. So there, it must be safe.
I personally threw out ALL my nonstick pots and pans. I did not donate them, or give them to a friend. I threw them out. I guess they will wind up on a landfill somewhere (probably not a good thing) but I had no choice. I will not cook on that substance ever again. Instead, I bought stainless steel pots and pans (All-Clad). I don't think steel is the answer either but I couldn't afford cast iron nor did I want to go through all the trouble of seasoning those things. There are pots and pans made from ceramic which seems much safer and I plan to look into those types as well. For now, I am sticking with All-Clad and making sure my baking tins are also free from teflon.
I know it seems overwhelming even daunting to think about all the toxins that bombard us everyday. They are in our cleaning products, personal products, cooking tools, food, fabrics, furniture, our water and in our air. Its impossible to rid yourself completely of all of them. You would have to go back in time before the industrial revolution and live like a peasant farmer. Obviously this is not possible so our options are to try a little at a time. Remove what you can afford to remove. Change comes in baby steps and over time you will begin to see the difference. These are expensive endeavors at times but think of all the money you will save in doctor bills!