A Cook's Diary

Chemicals in non-stick cookware and your health

Chemicals in non-stick cookware and your health | casaveneracion.com

I’ve heard and read the argument before. In fact, I’ve heard and read so many different arguments so many times already about why non-stick cookware are dangerous and why we should not stay away from them. And I’m still as skeptical as the day I heard (or, maybe, read) the first argument.

PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, is the main chemical used in the manufacturing of most nonstick coatings. It is also present in numerous types of food packaging and in materials that are fire-resistant and able to repel oil, stains, grease, and water. This feature might appear to make PFOA ideal for use in nonstick cookware; however, scientists have expressed serious concerns about repeated exposure to this known toxin. In addition to PFOA, 15 other types of gases can be released when cooking with this coating, which can affect health over the long term…

The same article recites warnings about aluminum cookware.

Me? I use non-stick cookware. Have been for at least two decades. Two reasons. The first is practicality I love how much less oil I need to use (hey, I thought less oil is healthy — ain’t that the selling point of non-stick cookware?) and because they are a breeze to clean.

The second is more complicated but, for brevity, it goes something like this: In a world where conclusions drawn from research studies (often funded by businesses that expect favorable results) conflict with one another, it is hard to believe anything these days. For instance, margarine makers say butter is bad because it is animal fat but butter makers claim margarine is even worse because of all the chemicals and artificial ingredients in it.

Another example? Alcohol and caffeinated drinks had been declared to be bad for us and then along came the studies about resveratrol in red wine and tannins and antioxidants in coffee. Even the king of indulgence — chocolate — has health benefits.

And then, there’s the war over artificial sweeteners. In a generation of diabetics and “health buffs”, makers of sugar substitutes have been raking in millions. Then, someone blew the whistle on sucralose and aspartame.

So, you get the picture when I say that it’s hard to believe anything these days.

But back to the debate about the dangers of non-stick aluminum cookware.

The Huffington Post article where the quote came from recommends alternatives to dangerous cookware. Cast iron, ceramic, glass and clay are listed. I use cast iron, ceramic and glass but not clay. In fact, most of my cookware are ceramic Anchor Hocking pots.

The trouble with the recommended alternatives is that it’s practically saying that if you’re poor, you’re dead. Cast iron, glass and ceramic cookware are among the most expensive cookware in the market. All my cast iron, ceramic and glass cookware were bought on sale — at regular prices, I can’t afford them. If you live in a place with a thriving clay pottery industry and, ergo, cheap and widely available clay pot cookware, you’d be fine. But if you have to import them, even cheap clay pot cookware will come out expensive.

If you have to spend so much money for “safe” cookware, will there be any left to buy food to cook in them?

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