We can’t stop thinking about the fantastic feature in the New York Times Magazine in January 2016 about corporate defense attorney Rob Bilott and how he helped expose DuPont. The company hid the dangers of the chemical PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, which is used in the production of Teflon for non-stick pans. When the Toxic Substances Control Act was enacted in 1976, PFOA was one of a multitude of untested chemicals allowed to remain on the market.
According to the story, DuPont continued to dump toxic waste into a creek that ran through a pasture where farmers fed their cows, causing terrible effects to the animals.
“Bilott watched the video and looked at photographs for several hours. He saw cows with stringy tails, malformed hooves, giant lesions protruding from their hides and red, receded eyes; cows suffering constant diarrhea, slobbering white slime the consistency of toothpaste, staggering bowlegged like drunks.”
It’s a long read but worth it. If you’re interested in reading the whole NYT story, you can read it here.
We spend a lot of time talking about what we’re cooking in the kitchen, but what about what we’re cooking in? It’s confusing trying to sort out the difference between stainless steel and aluminum versus glass and ceramic. So we decided to break down some of the options:
Avoid: Non-Stick Cookware
Non-stick cookware, specifically Teflon, has taken a beating among health and safety experts in recent years. So it goes without saying that you should absolutely ditch anything in your kitchen that’s coated with it.
Teflon is a coating made from chemicals from the perfluorochemical (PFC) family. Studies have shown that PFCs may contribute to all sorts of negative health effects and environmental hazards. But this category also includes other products like Calphalon and any others that are made with a non-stick surface.
Safe: Cast Iron
Yes, cooking on and cleaning cast iron does take a bit more care than using, say, a non-stick pan. But there’s a reason it’s been a standard for generations. When it’s been properly seasoned with oil and cleaned with a brush and no soap, a good cast iron pan will last for many years and will cook any number of dishes.
The great part about cooking on cast iron is that most people can actually benefit from the extra iron in their diets when a little bit ends up in food. That being said, if you know that your body’s iron levels are already high, consider cooking on something else.
All glass is inert, nontoxic, and safe!
Safe: Stainless Steel
Stainless steel cookware is made from an alloy, or combination of metals. It’s more stable than other cookware, so it’s less likely any metals into your food, making it a safe, affordable option. Anyone with a nickel allergy should avoid stainless steel. But for others, it’s a great option.
People with nickel allergies should avoid cooking with stainless steel cookware.
Just take care when scrubbing your cookware clean, since pots and pans that have been damaged by harsh scrubbing may be more prone to leaching.