A few months ago, we got rid of our microwave. I was convinced that I couldn’t live without it, so I moved it to the basement. Turns out, I haven’t missed it a bit.
Many of my favorite food and nutrition bloggers are very against using a microwave to cook foods, and the Weston A Price Foundation recommends against it, since it was never used any traditional societies.
However, I’m having a really hard time finding solid scientific evidence that says, without a doubt, that microwaving food causes real, immediate harm. But! BUT! It all depends on how you look at it.
What is true: microwaving food in plastic containers causes the plastic to release toxic chemicals into the food. Also, from one of the more reliable sources I was able to find, scientists don’t all agree on how microwaves actually heat food. There’s also the issue of “popcorn lung,” i.e. highly processed foods specifically made to be microwaved that release airborne chemicals.
Additionally, as everyone knows, microwaves heat food really unevenly and therefore should not be used to cook raw meat or heat up baby bottles, and — let’s face it — microwaved food often just doesn’t taste as good.
What may or may not be true: microwaving food causes cancer, fibromyalgia, and host of other major human diseases. (Here’s a fairly typical article.)
Even if the more extreme assertions aren’t true, what I’ve read was enough to convince me that it’s probably not worth it. Additionally, microwaving food is kinda antithetical to the entire slow foods frame-of-mind — if you want to eat something but are feeling too lazy to cook it properly, maybe you’re not really hungry to begin with!
Our microwave occupied a large part of our kitchen counter. We got rid of it, put a toaster oven in its place, and haven’t looked back. Look how much counter space we freed up!
I’ll be honest: I still use the microwave at work to heat up my soup lunches. (Hey! I’m not perfect!)
Do you feel strongly about microwaves? Know about some really great scientific evidence that they’re dangerous or that they’re safe? Post it in the comments! Seriously. I’m interested in figuring all this stuff out, and I want to take an even-handed approach and investigate multiple sources.
March 31, 2012 at 11:12 am
Getting rid of the microwave is on my list of health goals this year. I don’t know exactly how bad they are for you, but something about nuking leftovers that you worked so hard to make as nutrient dense as possible just feels wrong…I have a toaster oven too, I just have to get in the habit of using it. I use the microwave at work too. I can’t find any way around that, expect maybe a heavy duty thermos…
April 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm
I developed fibromyalgia a couple of years ago out of the blue. Couldn’t put my finger on what may have caused the initial problem, but I have absolutely determined that every time I eat food or drink liquids that have been heated in the microwave, flare ups have developed within a short amount of time (usually within an hour). Eating out is becoming more difficult since so many places use microwaves in cooking. Is there any kind of scientifc info linking the two together?
April 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm
I’ve not seen any, but yours is not the first anecdote I’ve heard. Thank you for sharing, and do come back if you find out anything more!
April 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm
I got rid of all my plastic several years ago — use canning jars and old pyrex food storage containers I bought on eBay. Do use the microwave, but never with plastic. Only use it to heat up soup or coffee though — oh, and on occasion, if I’m baking, to melt chocolate.
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May 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm
i haven’t had a microwave since i lived with my parents (about 11 years ago). i have no scientific evidence against them beyond what you mentioned (mostly the plastic bit), but i definitely feel opposed to them for the reasons you mentioned (anti-slow foods, etc.). it definitely requires more planning ahead to not use a microwave (defrosting is a big one!) but i try to freeze most of my food in glass anyways, so i can defrost on the stove in a pot of water. still takes longer, but not too bad. good luck!
May 26, 2012 at 9:54 pm
A good tip for defrosting faster is to place the frozen item on a metal surface. Because metal conducts heat it will thaw faster although not instantly. I also have given up using a microwave, even at work (we have a stove and saucepans, also I’ve bought a thermos.) Good to hear others going through the same thinking – I don’t know for sure that it’s damaging the food but better safe than sorry. The only use I’ve got for the microwave these days is heating my wheat sack to take to bed – anyone got a solution for that one?