You may think that the microwave oven is your best friend in the kitchen. But, there's a dark side to your supposed friend. It's something like the Trojan horse of Greek history that looked like a gift, but brought tragic, unforeseen consequences. Here's the story.
Domestic microwave oven models were first offered in 1967. It didn't take too long before it became another item that brought "prestige" to consumer households who could pay what was initially a high price tag. Over the past decades, the much publicized microwave oven became much more affordable, and this led almost all U.S. householders to buy and use large and small units. And the younger generation probably believes that it's impossible to run any kitchen adequately without one. Hundreds of specialized cookbooks have added to the popularity of these ovens. It all seems to make sense – preparing and reheating food - in just a few seconds. It appears to be something that no "right-minded" man or woman would want to do without. But think again.
Big problems with microwave ovens.
First of all, it's been shown that microwave cooking breaks up proteins, vitamins, and minerals into much smaller molecules that the human body can't use as well for nutritional purposes. And its radiation effects create decomposed compounds that pose risks for cancer, reduced immune function, and impaired memory.
One study found disturbing changes in the blood of individuals consuming microwaved milk and vegetables for a few weeks. Study subjects ate combinations of the same foods cooked different ways. Those who ate foods processed through microwave ovens, compared with the controls, showed hemoglobin levels decreases and over all white cell levels and cholesterol levels increases. They also had important increases in leukocytes – signs of poisoning and cell damage - with the microwaved foods.
Second, these microwave ovens make up a substantial part of the cumulative problem of so much electromagnetic radiation in our homes, offices, and schools. It's the electromagnetic radiation that agitates the molecules generating an internal heat that "cooks" the food. At the same time, an unknown amount of the same radiation is escaping from the oven and going into the surroundings. That's why people with a pace-maker and pregnant women are supposed to stay aways from these ovens. The radiation leaks out of all of them – to some extent.
Another concern had to do with the fact that you shouldn't be using any type of plastic in these ovens. Plastic contains BPA and other substances that are released into the food with all that super heat. When the manufacturer says that it's microwave safe, that only means that it won't dissolve in the oven, not that it won't bleed toxic substances into your food.
The real deal - you really don't need it
Here, I'd like to tell you my experience and how I stopped being a convinced fan of microwave cooking. Some months ago, my husband and I visited a friend for a few days. We cooked our food in her apartment. And with the first breakfast that we made, I noticed that the coffee was getting cold. I asked where the microwave was. She said she didn't have one. Well, I knew that my friend kept a rather Spartan apartment and had virtually eliminated all unnecessary items in it. But, I was amazed that she had no microwave. She told me about the negative health effects of having a radiation box in the home and that, microwaved food had a bad taste when compared with food cooked in a conventional way. More importantly, that it wasn't good for you, nutritionally. And that microwaving causes changes in the molecular structure of food, so that you don't get the same kind of nourishment from it as you would eating food cooked on a regular stove. While I was impressed by what she said, I didn't think enough about it, at the time, to stop using my microwave oven at home.
Some time later, I began to read about the negative effects of microwaves and that microwave cooked food was a health hazard. And after a time, I made a decision. I gave away my microwave oven and bought a small, cabinet-top toaster oven to replace it. Now, several months have passed – sans microwave –and I'm satisfied that I did the right thing. Also the general quality and taste of our meals have improved – at least my husband tells me that. And, while, it may be due to any number of healthier changes in our lives, we both feel better, too.
Your chance to protect your family and the environment
You, too, can get along without that big monster hovering over your stove or hogging limited kitchen counter space. After all, those meals that you’re preparing for loved ones should be done in the best way you can. And, yes, things can get busy in the kitchen with everybody already hungry. But there are any number of ways that you can simplify your menus. Food can be served as salads or vegetables quickly steamed, in the conventional manner, during those hectic times. Tell your family that, yes, you're having to spend ten to fifteen minutes more in food prep time but that they're avoiding health risks and getting more nutrition in the process. Surely, they'll thank you for the extra effort made on their behalf.
And, why contribute to so many environmental problems created by the need for more and more electronic products? Just remember most families trade out out those big items - like microwave ovens - every few years or so. Our consumer-buying frenzy creates too much use of natural resources and leads to deadly levels of industrial smog. And it doesn't matter that the large part of that smog falls over Asian cities. It all comes back in the form of global ecological destruction - through acid rain and worldwide climate change.
Here's something that you can do right away. Take out your microwave and put it in the garage or in a closet for one month. Switch over to a toaster oven for warming your cooked food and heat up liquids in pots on the stove. Try this simple exercise. If it works for you, at the end of the month, I'm sure you'll be more than happy to give or throw away your microwave oven. At any rate, you will know that it's not such a good idea to use it and, if it reappears in the kitchen, your use will surely be less frequent.