image by Cooks & Kitchens
We talk a lot about the different ways to keep toxins out of our food by buying organic food, eating raw, and sourcing ingredients locally. But what about how we prepare our food?
The Major Offenders
Unfortunately, some metal cookware that is on the market today can actually leach toxins into your food (which can counteract the health benefits of the Real food). There are arguments that copper, aluminum, Teflon, and other non-stick cookware (even the “safe” anodized aluminum) may be toxic, with many negative side effects.
Of the biggest concern is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), typically found in non-stick pots and pans. PFOA is a highly carcinogenic chemical that when heated emits toxic fumes into the air. It has been shown to lead to cancer, reduced fertility, birth defects, and even higher cholesterol. The biggest risk comes when your pans get scratched and chipped, when you cook at high temperatures, and when you burn what you are cooking.
What IS Safe
While there are many choices in cookware that are not safe, there are four categories that are safe, and have multiple benefits to them.
- Stainless steel: This is the set we got as a wedding gift. This set is reasonably priced and will last for years (and years and years) and will look good doing it, since it won’t rust, corrode, or chip. Stainless steel is dishwasher safe (I choose to hand wash mine…it is easier in the long run), safe enough to use on the stovetop and the oven, and won’t change the taste of your food!
- Stoneware: Oh, how I love stoneware! Historically, this is one of the oldest types of cookware, as it has been around basically forever (also called ceramic ware). It heats evenly, giving you a consistent product every time. It is super easy to clean due to the nonporous surface – but don’t put these in the dishwasher! They’re a bigger investment, but worth it. Pampered Chef carries a good line of affordable stoneware, which is where most of my pieces are from.
image by Steve Snodgrass
- Cast iron: Nothing beats a pastured egg fried in a cast iron skillet. Yum! Similar to stoneware, it heats thoroughly, producing an evenly cooked product and is easy to clean. The longer you use it, the better it gets! Very versatile, it can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, or over the campfire. There are many affordable options of cast iron pans in a variety of size and shapes. And there is always the drool-worthy enamel-coated cast iron beauties at Le Creuset.
- Glass: While you can’t use glass cookware on the stovetop, it is a great alternative to using metal pans in the oven. Besides being very affordable, easy to clean, and durable, glass pans require a shorter baking time and can go from oven to table while still creating a lovely presentation.