Just as I was feeling that everything was harmonious in my house, I switched the pan my husband was about to use. Did I go too far? Let me explain… a few years ago I decided that I would stop using non-stick pans. They are bad for you; I read it enough times in enough places that I was well aware of the dangers. Now, mind you, making changes in my house, like switching from chemical-coated frying pans to cast-iron and stainless steel ones, doesn’t always go over well. I don’t know why, it’s just the way it is. Gradually, over the years, I replaced each non-stick pan with a healthier substitute.
A couple of years ago, we were down to our last remaining non-stick pan; it was damaged beyond use (you know how BAD that is for you, right?!), you know, scratched. “We should throw it away, those pans are full of chemicals that get into our food when we cook,” I coaxed. He responded— ignoring my concern (?) —, that we should get another one because they are so easy to cook with. This was before all the ceramic coated non-stick pans came out, which is what we use now. This replacement pan is the one pan left of its kind in our house and he’s holding on tight to it. In his defense though, I do burn a lot food, which is hard to clean from the stainless steel pans—oopsies!
Long story short, we bought this last non-stick pan and I declared (silently) that I wouldn’t use it, but if he wanted to then, fine. He still can if he wants too. This story is similar to our milk debate. I could tell him a dozen reasons why something is better or worse for us— but the entire healthy debate is a delicate subject in our house.
Fast forward to the other day. We were going to make poached eggs so he went to put the water on. I noticed… he pulled out the big, yellow, 12” non-stick pan. He put the water in and turned the stove on to high. High, I say!
If, and I say if, you use a non-stick pan, you should keep the temperature on low! The higher the temperature the more those nasty little chemicals seep into your food!
I sat there for a moment. I had a dilemma, do I let him just get on with it and eat those farm fresh eggs just boiled in a chemical coating or do I get up when he leaves the room and put the water in a different pan. Well, I had to do it it’s principle. I have made certain decisions, healthier decisions, and I had to take my solemn stand. I got up and traded the pan for a stainless steel one; I was going to cook them anyway. I prefer food cooked in stainless steel. You can see that I was trying to be reasonable; after all, I didn’t dump the water from the chemical-laden pan down the sink.
You can imagine switching pans didn’t go over well. Any person that still uses non-stick pans obviously doesn’t care about the harmful effects, right? Anyway, he was under the impression that we had used them all these years. Now, I have to put my research head on and find out if I’ve lost my marbles or… if he has.
And since we are trying to save the world here, non-stick pans don’t last very long— only a couple of years of use before you have to toss it and get a new one. Compared to stainless steel and cast-iron, which last a lifetime and then some!
I oppose chemicals sprayed on food, so why would I want to cook my food on a pan sprayed with chemicals?
Perflurorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is the chemical that is most commonly used. PFOA’s are also found in microwave popcorn bags and packaging for greasy foods and on flame-retardants, stain-proof clothing, carpet and fabric protectors, and any products that contain them— another pervasive chemical among us. Hmmm… they are in more than I realized.
From Dr. Mercola:
“Ninety-five percent of Americans, including children, have the perfluorinated compound PFOA in their blood.”
You can imagine, as with many chemicals, there is great concern that PFOA’s can cause cancer, thyroid disease, immune system toxicity, reproductive problems and birth defects in humans as they do in animal studies. You can read the chemical index if you want on EWG or Skin Deep. Plus, the chemicals in the pans kill birds— pet birds and chicks!
As I’m writing this, I’ve realized I haven’t even touched base on baking and muffin pans and the like. Have you found any that aren’t non-stick? There are silicone baking pans but I’m not sure those are okay to use with high heat either. My husband loves oven fries (I like them too) so I crank the oven temperature up to 500 degrees for those— good god, I’m killing him! I guess I should use my glass baking dishes, but those are only so big.
I found steel muffin pans by chefmate at Target that didn’t mention non-stick. Maybe I can find cookie sheets too. Don’t forget to check the material, since aluminum is possibly linked to lots of health issues like Alzheimer’s. You are starting to see how my mind works. It’s getting harder to find the solution.
I guess the raw food world is right to keep the temperature low— but potatoes cooking at 115 degrees would take days! Just jokes— I don’t think anyone does that.
Searching around, I did find stainless steel baking pans by Norpro and ceramic bake ware by various companies. The more I think about it, the more I want to throw those old, toxic baking sheets out!
It is important to remember if using non-stick pans to cook at low temperatures only— never high! Have I mentioned that already? I would rather be safe than sick and keep clear of them. As you can see, PFOA is already in enough products that are harder to avoid. Sometimes we have to take small steps to make a difference. And, sometimes husbands should just let their wives throw out chancy kitchenware. I will be recycling my iffy pans now.