Monday, July 30, 2012

A Change of Mind ~ Perhaps You Should Stop Using Your Microwave


How often do you change your mind?

It can be a hard thing to admit that, just perhaps, you’ve been wrong about something.

I posted a couple of weeks ago four reasons to use your microwave. As I was writing out those reasons, I had a little nagging thought that perhaps I should include some safety precautions as well. I had heard about some dangers associated with microwaves, and I didn’t want you to think that using your microwave was risk-free. (Of course, I’m not an expert and this isn’t a scientific article, so don’t decide anything based on what I write.) I even included a link to a Harvard Medical School article about the dangers of microwaving plastic.



A few readers left friendly comments about their non-use of microwaves and the associated dangers. One reader left the link to an article that detailed how microwaves work and why they ought not be used (although I’m not sure of the credentials of the writers). 

The article describes microwaves (the actual wave, not the appliance) as short waves of electromagnetic energy traveling at the speed of light. These waves are also used in telephone signals, television programs, and satellites. My husband, the science guy, apparently knew this, but it was new to me. I thought good old-fashioned heat was used to cook food.

As I read that article, there were three light-bulb moments.

Food and drink taste different when microwaved. My husband and I drink cappuccino, mixing the powder into boiling water. It didn’t take long for us to realize that the cappuccino tasted A LOT better when the water was boiled in the kettle instead of in the microwave. Apparently, the microwave changes even a substance as simple as water.

The texture of food is different when microwaved. Have you tried warming up pizza in the oven? How do you like that slimy underside of the crust? The texture of pizza warmed up in the oven is like when it is made fresh.

Blood used for transfusions is not warmed in a microwave. This just boggled my mind. Food is used by our bodies in much the same way, but we heat it in microwaves all the time.

Let’s muddy the issue, though. I also found the article, The Myth about the Dangers of Microwave Ovens, which claims to debunk the above articles. It is cleverly written, but I’m not sure of that writer’s qualifications either.

The bottom line? I don’t know for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that microwaves are dangerous. But my head tells me that they aren’t natural, so I’m going to try to quit using my microwave. At the least, it should be a fun try at old-fashioned-ness.

Giving up convenience isn’t easy. My husband and I melt butter and warm up leftovers all the time. And I am definitely not telling you to quit your microwave. That’s your decision, not mine.

Retraining habits and undoing common practices can be difficult. But determination can go a long way.








What do you think of this information? Will it make you quit using your microwave? Or do you think I’m crazy? Does this qualify me as crunchy? J





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27 comments:

  1. Interesting. I don't use my microwave very often. It is a convenience that I'm not real fond of. I don't like the way it makes my food taste or the texture changes that occur. On the flip side I have had some delicious food cook in the microwave. I've found it's almost as fast sometimes to just use the stove top to reheat food. I also use my toaster oven, that takes a little longer. but the results seem more fresh. I've heard lots of cons against it and don't really know what to believe due to lack of proof or credible sources.

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    1. I think the stove top heats food better. It seems to get it hotter all the way through, but it's not as easy as just popping a dish in the microwave. I agree with you -- I'm not sure what to believe. Some are positive that it's dangerous and some are positive that it's not. I'm not a scientist, so I just don't know. But I would choose to err on the side of caution. The real question is whether or not I can retrain myself. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. I'm debating myself on this very issue. There are times we go several days without using our microwave. (I only know this because I find things that were forgotten in the microwave for days.) Then there are the days I warm everyone's frozen breakfast sandwich with it, and defrost the meat and Peter warms up coffee etc... Our microwave is 12 years old, so I'm already planning for it's replacement. I'm considering replacing it with a toaster or small convection oven. Now, if only I can figure out how to get one of those to fit above my stove without causing a fire hazard.

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    1. I've thought of that too, Alicia! If I get rid of the microwave, could I install a larger toaster oven in its' place? And, the bigger question, would it be safe? Sometimes I think there are just too many choices. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. I fought having a microwave for years. I had 3 kids before I had a microwave. Twenty years later, I'm still not fond of it and use it only reluctantly, but my now grown children use it quite a bit. I was shocked when a 40 year old friend of mine once confessed that she had no idea how people made popcorn without a microwave. (Until I demonstrated stovetop popcorn making.)I've also noticed people that have grown up with microwaves tend to have a harder time learning how to cook. Microwaves tend to zap one of the patience needed to cook traditionally. I will have to do the cappuccino test. That's very interesting to me. Anyway, how I warmed baby food / leftovers etc. quickly without a microwave was to put it in a glass bowl or custard cup and set it in a shallow pan of water which was then heated to a boil. It really didn't take much more time than microwaving and it didn't dirty a pan every time I wanted to heat something up. Of course for things like pizza, the oven or toaster oven can't be beat. Hmmm... maybe after my kids move out I'll send the microwave along with them and enjoy the added counter space!

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    1. Well, Beth Anne, I'll shock you again -- I'm not sure how I would pop popcorn without the microwave, aside from an air popper. I'm not eager to get another gadget! That's a good idea about warming leftovers in a pan of hot water. I used to do that with frozen breastmilk for my babies. Thanks so much for the suggestions. I'm hoping this will help grow my patience also!

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  4. Great job on weighing both sides and then going with your conscience. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and at least we have alternative ways to heat things (which only require that one annoying thing: patience!). I think you will find after a while you hardly think about needing a microwave. You might find your eating habits change, too. I stopped buying a lot of unhealthy stuff like spaghettios and frozen dinners, and I feel a lot better now that I am not eating them on a normal basis.

    Kudos!

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    1. Patience will be my biggest obstacle here, I think. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Sarah!

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  5. I don't think I'll be getting rid of my microwave, but we do limit its use (reheating leftovers, heating water, and melting butter). I do wonder about microwave safety.

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    1. From my limited internet research, it's hard to tell exactly what the truth is. We're not getting rid of it but retraining ourselves. Plus, ours is attached to the wall above the oven -- not an easy removal! I'll be updating how it goes. Thanks for commenting, Judy!

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  6. This is interesting. We try to use our microwave sparingly anyways, as we know there are risks associated with it. Of course, it makes life so easy so certain things just go in there no matter what. But, like you said, certain food tastes different coming out of there, so you have to wonder how healthy anything out of there really is....

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Heather. Hope to see you again. (BTW, I love your question on Google + -- is anyone ever going to start using this? I've wondered that too! I've heard that it's growing, but most everyone I know is still on Facebook.)

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  7. Meghan,

    One precaution I've taken recently is to never warm or heat food in the microwave in a plastic container. I've read articles about how dangerous that can be, and I certainly don't want to eat food laced with plastic. Food for thought, for sure! Lori (visiting from Be Not Weary www.lorihatcher.com)

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    1. Good decision, Lori. Thanks for visiting!

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  8. We have been married 4 1/2 years, and except for the first year when we lived with his parents, we have never used a microwave. I grew up with a microwave, but since learning of the dangers, stopped using it. I tried not to use it during the time we lived with DH's parents. Now, I have gotten so used to not having a microwave that I don't even think about it. We use a teakettle for boiling water for tea/hot chocolate, etc, we warm leftovers on the stove, I melt butter on the stove, etc. If I need to just soften butter, I sit it on a plate and let it sit in the window where the sun is shining in, or set it on the back of the stove while the oven is on. There are many alternate routes to the microwave. I think the biggest step is just getting it out of the house, and you won't feel tempted anymore. :)

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    1. I should correct a word up there. We have USED a microwave, but never OWNED one. The times we have used one has been very few and far between, and mostly by my husband at work.

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    2. I think you're exactly right, Naomi. The trick is going to be learning the alternate routes and perhaps, if we can pry it off of the wall, getting it out of the house. Thanks for your encouragement!

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  9. I was in my twenties when I learned to make popcorn on a stove. It tastes much better to me. It's easy and extremely inexpensive. I dare you to try it: buy a bag of popcorn kernels (you find them where you find microwave popcorn in a bag that is clear, the same way dried beans are packaged) in a large sauce pan (not a stock pot though) put 2 tbsp of oil and 3 kernels of popcorn. Add the lid and turn on the heat to medium. While you are waiting measure out 1/3 of a cup of kernels. When the first of the three test kernels pops, lift the lid and add the 1/3 cup of kernels. Replace the lid! Now glide the pot back and forth over the burner continuously until you don't hear popping for 3 seconds. Flavor it anyway that you like! It doesn't seem like it will be much when you put the kernels in but they will FILL that pot to almost overflowing. It's so fun and noisy!! A bag of popcorn will cost less than $2 and will last for months! even $1 microwave popcorn has only 3 bags! It's so fun and if you have children (sorry it's my first time visiting your blog) they will love it!!! Noisy and tasty is sure to be a hit!! I hope you do try it! have a blessed day!

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    1. I have a very vague memory of popping popcorn this way. I mentioned this to my husband and he immediately suggested three or four different flavorings. And I love the frugality. We'll try it immediately, and thanks so much for the details, Mrs. Arpino!

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  10. Several years ago our microwave quit working right about the time I had started reading about the possible harmful effects of using a microwave. I wasn't sure, either, what the "right" thing to do was, but I figured it couldn't hurt to SEE how it would be to live without one. That was probably about 4 years ago now, and, though there are instances here and there where I wish I had the convenience, a large majority of the time I don't even miss it. I literally rarely even think about it because I've become accustomed to just doing without it. At this point I figure there's no point in replacing something I can live so easily without, especially if I don't feel confident in its safety. But I'm like you in that I don't mind telling others about my own experience but I don't tell people they shouldn't have one. :) One thing I should mention, though, is how much better popcorn tastes when it's made on the stove top! ;) (I saw your link on WLW, by the way)

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    1. I'm been surprised at how many have responded that they don't use or even own microwaves, but how wonderful not to even feel the need for one! Thanks for commenting, Laurie, and we're going to try that stove top popcorn soon.

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  11. We are moving, and leaving behind the microwave, because it's attached to the cabinets above the stove! Lol! So I have been debating wether or not we should buy a new one for the next house. This was a very timely article! I didn't think about when I melt butter! I think I'll just buy a small sauce pan for that. I think I can do this! I like your idea, a fun try at being old fashioned! I'm in!

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    1. A sauce pan would work, or just put it (in a safe dish) on top of the toaster oven when you're using it. I'd love to know how it goes! Thanks for stopping by, and blessings on your move!

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  12. My mom always told me that the microwave wasn't good for you. She didn't like me to stand close to it when it was going, but she used it anyway. I think like everything in this world, when used in moderation it is ok. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

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  13. We removed our microwave from the kitchen a year ago and have never looked back! Food never tasted right. I actually wrote a
    Post on not using the microwave. :)

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    1. We are definitely noticing a difference in the taste, too. Thanks for your encouraging comment! (Love your profile name!)

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I so much appreciate your time and effort in leaving a comment, and I try to respond to as many as time permits. :-)