When it comes to healthy and holistic nutrition and lifestyle, it doesn’t just begin and end at food. Many times people, including myself, overlook the importance of the tools we use to prep, cook, and store our food in. There are so many choices; stainless, non-stick, bamboo, castiron, plastic, glass, etc. The choices are truely endless and can alot of times be a little overwhelming. I feel that knowledge of the safest cookware can be the difference between health and sickness; seriously. I will educate you on the differences in different cookware, what prep tools are the safest, what type of material to store your leftovers and such in, and the best dinningware and cutlery! Since this is a lengthy subject I’m breaking it down into a few parts. Stick with me! This stuff is truely important.
First, lets take a look at the cookware you use to cook up delish, healthy, clean, holistic, and traditional meals for you and your family. What’s better? What’s safer, healthier, less toxic? When you are shopping for cookware at a local store 9 times out of 10 the clerk or salesperson will tell you that non-stick is the best. Why? Well, because that’s what they have been told. They are told that by using non-stick that thier food wont stick and it’s healthy and safe. I asked a clerk at a Bed, Bath, and Beyond one time what her favorite was and to no surprise she said, “Non-stick of course”. When I asked her why she informed me that her boss told her it was safe, your food wouldn’t stick, and since your food wont stick you get all the healthly goodness your food has to offer and since it doesn’t stick all the nutrients stay in your food and not in your pan. Hummm? Ok, I thought; there needs to be some major education going on here, because (no offense to the clerk), but she sounded like an idiot, to me at least. How one can honestly believe that using non-stick keeps the nutrients in your food is a cry for help! I simply told her thank you for her recommendation and that I would think about it.
When you go to a store you can simply be overwhelmed by the masses of different cookware. Lets take a look at all the types that are offered. There are three different categories of cookware; reactive and less reactive. The reactive cookware is one that you want to avoid! It is the most hazardous and has compounds that actually react with food, espically acidic foods like tomatoes, that allow harmful chemicals to leach into our food! Gross! Then less reactive which is better and then non-reactive which is best!
Non-Stick or Teflon:
Non-stick and Teflon is by far the worst and most evil in cookware! The non-stick chemicals used have been linked to birth defects, liver toxicity, cancer, etc. Consumers of Teflon have even been warned to not let per birds in the kitchen while cooking with it because the fumes, smoke, and odors can cause the pet bird to become seriously sick or die; but they say it has little or no effect on humans. In my opinion if it will kill a pet bird, wont it kills a human over time and espically since you’re ingesting the food that these chemicals are being leached into? I would think so. According to the Enviromental Working Group, non-stick coatings can reach, ““reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit in as little as 3-5 minutes, releasing 15 toxic
gases and chemicals, including two carcinogens.” And according to Mother Nature Network, “At high heat the fluoropolymers used in nonstick finishes release various toxic substances, and at least one greenhouse gas. The greatest concerns surround perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA), a substance that persists in the environment and widespread use of which has made it detectable in the blood of almost all Americans, adults and newborns alike. PFOA is considered a likely carcinogen and is associated with raised levels of cholesterol and birth defects. It is known to cause testicular, pancreatic, mammary and liver tumors in rats, and workers exposed to PFOA have increased risk for cancers of the pancreas and the male reproductive tract. Additionally, overheated chemical nonstick finishes release fumes that cause an illness in humans known as polymer fume fever. The fumes are known to kill birds, and manufacturers warn against use of these pans in homes with pet birds … hence the canary in a coal mine reference.” Some pretty scary stuff! Also, on the EWG site, “Statistics reported by the Cookware Manufacturers Association indicate that 90 percent of all the aluminum cookware sold in the United States in 2001 was coated with non-stick chemicals like Teflon (Cooks Illustrated, September 2002). Chemicals and tiny, toxic Teflon particles released from heated Teflon kill household pet birds. At least four of these chemicals never break down in the environment”. By far Teflon will no longer find a home in my kitchen, ever again!! If you have to use Teflon and other non-stick cookware, don’t ever use metal utensils, such at whisks and spaulas, as it cause tearing of the non-stick coating and then will end up in your food. Not like it really is any better, but it’s helpful. Aluminum is no better fit either.
Stainless Steel Cookware:
Stainless steel cookware is less reactive. It’s sturdy, crack resistant and less reactive of all metals. Good quality stainless steel can sometimes be essential in your kitchen for canning or cooking acidic foods, like tomato sauce. But, beaware that cheap stainless can contain copper in the metal. A little trick you can try with your existing stainless is to mix 1 teaspoon baking soda with 1 cup water and bring to a boil, then taste the water. If there is a metallic taste then it most likely has copper or another unsafe metal compound and should not be used in your kitchen! Le Creuset has some awesome options for stainless steel, they do offer some non-stic pans, I’m not sure about these so I might avoid; your choice. I’m awaiting an answer back about what makes them non-stick.
Cast Iron Cookware:
Cast iron is known for its durability and even heat distribution. Unglazed cast iron can transfer notable amounts of iron into food, but unlike the metals that come off other types of pots and pans, iron is considered a healthy food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The nonstick quality of cast
iron comes from seasoning. Seasoning is the term used for treating cast iron with oil and baking it. This fills in the porous surface of the cookware.
Enameled Cast Iron Cookware:
Enamel cast iron cookware has been used for over a century for cooking and is considered one of the best and safest cookware around. The enamel cast iron has a protective, chemical-free glaze. Enamel cast iron can withstand high heat temperatures and distributes heat through food very evenly. It’s heavy and expensive, but will literally last a lifetime. This could actually become a family hierloom, it will last that long. As long as it is properly taken care of, which can be found here.
* Le Creuset: An amazing company out of France that is the gold standard in cookware, Enameled cast iron to be exact as well as baking dishes as well. Manufactoring process found here.
* Staub: Is also made in France and has exceptional quality enamel cast iron as well.