Toxins in Your Kitchen
In the last post, we talked about some of the common dangerous ingredients in body care products. Today, we’ll go over some of the toxins in our cookware and kitchen utensils.
Again, this can feel very overwhelming at first! I remember, when I started learning about some of these things, I felt like there was no way I would ever be able to get away from it all! But, over the years, I have gradually replaced most of the potentially harmful items with safer options; and, surprisingly, it really wasn’t all that hard! So I just want to encourage you with that before we dive into this!
Yes, plastic is everywhere! Our kitchens tend to be loaded with plastic storage containers, plastic bags, plastic serving utensils, and plastic bowls and other dishes, to name just a few!
So, what is wrong with plastic, anyway?
First of all, plastics are made from natural gas/petroleum products, with additional chemicals added to make it into the final product. That might not sound like too big of a deal, but these chemicals can leak into our food, especially when the plastic is warm or hot. For example, if you put your warm leftovers into a Ziplock bag or plastic storage container, the chemicals in the plastic are very likely to get into the food, and then into your body when you eat them. Even cold plastics can leak chemicals.
I won’t go too deeply into how plastics are made, but you can check out this article for more details.
Plastics have been linked to a host of health issues, not the least of which is fertility problems, particularly in men.
It is helpful to go through your kitchen and make a note of everything plastic that you are using: bags, cups, containers, bowls, cutlery, serving and cooking utensils, sippy cups and baby bottles (it is important to be aware of the toxins that are getting ingested by your kids and babies), and water bottles (especially be careful of water that you buy in a plastic bottle or jug - the water has sat in that plastic for a long time, and almost definitely has a heavy toxic load in it).
All of these items can be gradually replaced over time. I use glass storage containers (they come in a huge variety of shapes and styles, and they are very space-efficient!), glass cups, stainless steel cutlery, and wooden or stainless steel serving spoons and cooking utensils.
These storage containers are very similar to what I currently own, and I love them!
I still use plastic bags on occasion (because it is very difficult to freeze everything I freeze in glass), so I try to make sure the food is cooled before I put it into the bag, to minimize chemical leakage.
This is another hard one, because most available cookware and bakeware options seem to have a non-stick coating! Not to mention the fact that they are simply way easier to use.
Non-stick coatings are made of polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) and poly-perfluoroalkyl substances (PTEEs and PFAs), both of which are considered potential carcinogens.
There are additional chemicals in non-stick as well. You may have heard of perfluorooctanesulfonic acids, which are common in non-stick cookware.
Over time, as we use our non-stick items, the coating comes off and gets into our food, and then into our bodies. PFASs and PTEEs accumulate in the body, resulting in potential health risks.
I really like to use stainless steel for cooking, and glass for baking. If you have trouble with food sticking to your stainless pots and pans, try heating them up before adding the oil (or whatever your cooking fat is). This works really well!
Here is an awesome set of stainless steel cookware! I have these and again, I love them.
Cast iron is another option, but it is more expensive as well as more labor-intensive for maintenance.
3. Dish Soaps and Kitchen Cleaners
No matter how well we rinse our dishes, there is still a very good possibility that the soaps and other chemicals we are using on them is getting into our bodies. Porous substances like wood and plastic can soak up whatever is out on them. And if we are washing with our hands, the same chemicals are getting into our bodies through our skin!
So, look for safe, non-toxic kitchen cleaning options. White vinegar and essential oils are great for kitchen surfaces. Orange essential oil works well for removing grease. Castile soap is a safer option for washing purposes as well. (Look here for a good castile soap.)
For more ideas on non-toxic cleaning, check out this article!
I know I say this a lot, but it is so important to do your research! Find out what are the chemical components of your kitchenware, and learn whether they are safe before buying them. Generally speaking, the closer to nature the product is, the safer it will be for you and your family.
And again, don’t try to replace everything at once! This is costly and overwhelming. Many people recommend replacing safer options as your old ones wear out. When it comes to cookware, I think a more proactive approach is needed, because pots and pans and plates generally last for years! Try replacing one item every two weeks, or once a month, or whatever works for you. Just be sure to make a game plan so that it will happen! It is vital for the health of you and your family!
For additional reading on toxic household and body care products, check out my last two posts here and here. And be sure to come back for the next couple posts, where we will talk about toxins in other household products as well as toxins in food! And of course, I will give practical tips on how to minimize them!
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