Hidden Dangers in the Kitchen
Sometimes with environmental hazards we can feel like we know too much — like if we hear one more thing, we’re going to buy a big bubble and live in it. But before you turn the page in fear of the unknown, you need to read this: These six things are easy to get rid of — so they can stop making you and your family sick.
Fumes from overheated Teflon-coated cookware have been known to kill caged birds. Studies conducted by the Environmental Working Group have shown overheated nonstick pans emit a toxic mixture of chemicals that may cause cancer, birth defects, immune system suppression and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The chemical culprits are fluorine compounds, which are used in water-and stain-repellent coatings on carpets, clothing, ironing boards, ovens and pots and pans. What should you cook with?
Aluminum Pots and Pans
You just ruled out Teflon, now you need to get rid of any aluminum pots and pans because that aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. These pans are light, often cheap and are reactive. Storing salty or acidic food in an aluminum pot will pit the surface of the metal and contaminate the food with aluminum. Instead, use clay, stainless steel, ceramic, glass, porcelain or cast-iron cookware. One of the advantages of cast-iron is that it can actually provide small amounts of iron, a necessary nutrient.
Get rid of anything plastic in your kitchen. It melts when it gets hot, and, well… cooking often involves heat! A hot frying pan is an unsuitable location for a plastic spoon or spatula (as I have demonstrated on more than one occasion). Instead use stainless-steel spatulas, wooden spatulas, bamboo spatulas, wooden spoons, stainless-steel spoons, stainless-steel ladles, and glass or metal measuring cups.
Many plastics start to break down as they age and when they are heated, scrubbed or subjected to harsh detergents. Bisphenol A is the main ingredient in polycarbonate plastic, which is commonly used to make baby bottles, reusable milk bottles and reusable water bottles. Bisphenol upsets natural hormone levels and causes genetic damage and miscarriages in lab mice. To minimize your exposure to the chemicals found in plastics, when you bring groceries home, remove the plastic packaging and wrap all your cheeses and meats in freezer paper or waxed paper before putting them in a plastic bag or container.
Diners who eat raw or undercooked meat, fish, shellfish, or poultry can end up with tapeworms, toxoplasmosis or trichinosis. Avoid cross-contamination by using different cutting boards for meat and produce, preparing your produce before you prep meat and laundering all dishtowels you use after cooking. Also try this homemade spray system: Take two spray bottles and fill one with distilled white vinegar and the other with hydrogen peroxide. After washing meats and produce, spray vinegar first and then the peroxide on your countertops — no need to rinse.
Acidic foods such as tomatoes, sauerkraut, fruit, lemonade, fruit punches, carbonated beverages, tea and wine can react with metal in containers and become poisonous. Avoid these and use glass instead:
-Zinc: Galvanized metal containers may leach toxic amounts of zinc into the food.
-Copper or brass: Makes lemonade, wine, tea, coffee and tomato sauce toxic.
-Lead: Traditional pewter contains 25% lead and 75% tin. Many antique ceramics have lead glazes. Avoid using them for serving food. Also be wary of lead crystal.