So I went down to the basement with Brooke on Friday afternoon after I put Ansley down for her nap, and I started to search for a show on TV for her to watch. When we turned the TV on, there was an infomercial on, which resembled a cooking show. “Daddy, can I watch this for a little bit?” I figured, why not, let’s see what they are up to.
The product that was being sold, was kind of like a waffle maker without the waffling pattern. It cooked by having two heated surfaces over the food, designed to cook anything from sandwiches, to a full dinner (for one). It looked really cool, and I could only guess what was going through Brooke’s head… well, until she shared it. “Dad, that looks really cool, we should get one of those!”
“Brooke, what are they cooking?” “It looks like chicken, and some vegetables.” “Yes – correct, which is healthy, right?” “Yep!” “So sweetheart, I can understand why you would want one, it makes cooking look really easy, and the food we are seeing is healthy for the most part. “There is only one real question that we need to ask whenever we are looking at cooking utensils, honey. It is HOW are we cooking the food. In this case, we are not using a microwave, you know how I feel about that. But we are using two surfaces that are touching the food. What does Daddy care about?” “What they are made of!” “Right! So looking at this, do you have any idea what it is made of?” “No.”
And that is where Brooke’s investigative trail ran cold. I tried to push her and prod her with little clues, but she didn’t get it. I am sure many of you already know. Simply put, 90% of everything produced for cooking purposes is made from some kind of surface that I don’t trust.
Glass, porcelain, other clay made materials from the US (I don’t trust anything from other sources, as the painted coating could very easily include some toxic metals), and of course cast iron. Other than that, I don’t trust it. Teflon was the obvious problem here, and if you have had a chance to review any of our information on teflon… you should have no desire to cook on that surface any more.
Polytetrafluoroethylene is used for teflon, it is part carbon and part fluorine. It is considered to be a “non-reactive” compound because of the affinity that these two molecules show for one another. However, PFOA has been found in non-stick cookware (though DuPont’s own study showed no detection over 9 parts per billion). PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) is a known toxin and carcinogen, and DuPont (the only US company that manufactures PFOA) has agreed to eliminate the PFOA’s that esacpe their plants into the environment, but they did not agree to eliminate it from their manufacturing process. Which is why I have no desire to use anything non-stick in my food.
Trouble is, there are minimal alternatives in certain products. You may have noticed I left stainless steel off of the list too, primarily because steel is not an element… it is an alloy, and an alloy that shines will often contain aluminum, and in the case of Ferritic steel, it will also contain lead in some cases. Reasons to know your steel really well (which is sadly, a near impossibility in our culture… as these details rarely accompany a stainless steel product), and to stick with high nickel content, and avoid the others.
So, thanks to Brooke’s little request to watch an infomercial, you now get to go out and spend a few hundred bucks on some great cast iron cooking products. And please, stay away from infomercials.
Be well, God Bless. Dr. E