As we are in a season of preparing and consuming holiday food, please be aware not all kitchen tools/utensils are considered ‘safe’. Many of these items can leach toxins into food.
The following criteria are important to keep in mind when researching and purchasing cookware:
- Safety: some materials can leach toxins into food
- Functionality: heating evenly and quickly
- Durability: pots and pans look good and last for many years
- Cost: economically feasible
What cookware is NOT safe?
- Teflon: Should be avoided for kitchen use. Anything non-stick is made of perfluorocarbon (PFC). The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports PFC exposure has been associated with thyroid issues and obesity.
- Aluminum: It can leach into foods when using aluminum cooking utensils, especially when cooking acidic foods, such as tomato sauce. Aluminum is a neurotoxin and can have detrimental effects on the brain. And aluminum exposure can also be linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune conditions, etc.
- Copper: Copper from uncoated pots and pans can also leach into food. Yes, some copper is beneficial, but consistent use of copper cookware over time can lead to elevated copper levels, and thereby lower levels of zinc.
Cookware to Use with caution:
- Non-stick green pans: Most green pans are coated with Thermalon, which is comprised of silicone dioxide. In general, silicone is safe to work with, but some of the other parts of these pans can be an issue.
- Ceramic cookware: Sometimes, improperly-glazed ceramic cookware can contain lead. However, properly glazed and tested ceramic cookware is a good option.
What cookware should you cook with:
- Cast iron: Cast iron is usually a really good option and can also be a good source of iron for those who are iron-deficient; when iron is heated, it can be absorbed into food. Cast iron holds up very well in the oven. The best way to clean a cast iron skillet is to clean it with water only and scrub with lemon and salt; then coat with oil. Using any kind of soap can remove the seasoning on the pan. Do not use cast iron cookware if you have a history of hemochromatosis (iron-overload).
- Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is non-toxic, durable and conducts heat very well. It is safe and effective. It is best to use a small amount of oil/fat to coat the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.
- Enamel-covered cast iron: This heavy cookware is also non-toxic.
- Glass and ceramic: Usually used for baking; glass cookware is certainly non-toxic, but does not hold heat as well.
- Ceramic cookware is also a viable option, as it is durable, has good heat conduction, as long as it is properly glazed.
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