What are you cooking your food in?

You take time and energy to find good quality organic food, fresh organic produce, dairy and meat. But how do you cook it?
The pots and pans that you use to cook your food with can have a great effect on your health as well. The food is not only in direct contact with the pot in which you prepare it, it is heated in it, which can further exacerbate any potential chemical contamination. It is very important to use cookware that will not leach undesirable chemicals into your food.
The safest material to use for cookware is stainless steel. It is easy to find, as it is available online, in department stores and supermarkets. 
It is well worth to invest in a solid, good quality, thick stainless steel pot. It will last forever. I purchased a set of All Clad pots almost 14 years ago; they are very sturdy, and will probably outlast me. I bought one pot at a time, as I needed them, and built my set that way. 
Try to avoid cheaply made, thin stainless steel; the food will stick to it and burn, and you will likely find yourself frustrated and willing to turn to the convenience of non-stick. Also, most of them have handles that are made of plastic. The handles are generally not attached very well, so they become loose and fall off and/or break. They also melt and burn if the fire is too hot, releasing plastic fumes which are an obvious health hazard.
One can find stainless steel bakeware in cooking stores, as well as online with free shipping. I replaced all the Teflon-coated bakeware I had for stainless steel that I found online. Glassware is cheap and easy to find online, in department stores and supermarkets, and works well for both roasting and baking. Ceramic is another great choice, but more expensive and harder to find; it will also crack if you do not handle it well. Baking stones are wonderful, and last forever; they are great for baking cookies, pizza, scones and bread. 
Cast iron, and enameled cast iron, are other great traditional choices. They are incredible pots to have if you love making stews, soups and other slow-coking dishes. They can go from stove-top to oven, which is a great quality for a pot. Enameled cast-iron pots can even be used to bake nice crusty, whole-wheat breads. They will also last forever, but you cannot cook tomatoes using cast iron, and you cannot cook with high heat on enameled cast iron. So, if you are looking for the one pot that can do everything, go for a good quality stainless steel one.
Do not use Teflon-coated pots or bakeware (that includes Calphalon and other non-stick cookware). Teflon is poisonous when heated; it does not matter if it is cheap Teflon from the supermarket, or expensive material from specialty shops. When heated, it emits toxic fumes. Teflon-coated pots and bakeware generally come with a tag explaining how much heat it will tolerate before breaking down and emitting chemical fumes. Stoves and ovens do not emit a completely even heat, and there is no guarantee that the heat is not surpassing the tolerable amount for the cookware. Recent research also shows that toxic fumes are released not only when Teflon-coated pans are overheated, they are released just about any time they are heated (www.ewg.org). Teflon-coated pots and pans heat up very quickly, and it is difficult to gauge exactly how hot they really get. They also scratch and wear out, which means that in a short amount of time you will have to spend yet more money and energy looking for another pot or pan.
Aluminum is not a good choice for either cookware or bakeware. It is well known that aluminum exposure has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, so that is not a route one would want to take. 
Personally, I would also not cook with silicone bakeware or utensils. The same goes for plastic cooking utensils. I have not seen enough evidence to know that I can trust them. I am generally skeptical of new materials, as their health hazards are not apparent for many years, Teflon being a prime example. 
I will stick with the old, traditional cookware. They last virtually forever, and are a safe and great investment for your health.

No comments: