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Apr 08

Day 299: Heavy Metal Rocks!

Okay, this whole cooking thing has thrown another roadblock at me.  While making the fantastic omelets this past weekend, I saw my relatively-new and super-useful Farberware spatula/flipper starting to peel.  Um, gross!!

Not only was I concerned about the plastic flaking off into my food, but suddenly I wondered, “Might this handy-dandy tool be leeching BPA into my family’s breakfast??”

Things that make you go Hmmmmmmmmm

I decided that I would hop on over to Bed, Bath & Beyond and choose some more eco-friendly and BPA-free cooking utensils.  I grabbed some BB&B coupons and off I went.  While at BB&B I sensed that they really don’t give a rat’s half-apple about eco-friendly or BPA.  Hmpfff!!

And then I wandered across the aisle into a veritable maze of chemical contaminants: the cookware.  Pots and pans and griddles and skillets.  Non-stick and hard-anodized.  Stainless steel, cast iron and titanium. Dark black and shiny silver.  Emeril.  Calphalon.  All-Clad.

Could someone just tell me what in the world to buy, please??

I left BB&B feeling confused and admittedly a little sour.  I was shopping and I didn’t get to have any fun!  What was THAT all about?!!

You know exactly what I did next.  I went straight to my Google cubicle and started studying.  Almost none of the cookware manufacturers address the chemical components of their product on their websites.  The Environmental Working Group gave me the best information, with their site making available to us numerous articles and research data from various sources.

Since metal can get a little on the boring side, I’ll break this down to a few bullet points, for ease of consumption.

  • Everyone loves a good non-stick pan.  But, when non-stick coatings are heated to excessive degrees (which happens on your cooktop, friends) they release harmful chemicals called perfluorochemicals (PFCs).  The most commonly addressed PFC in cookware is PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).
  • Dangers of PFCs are low birth weight, higher cholesterol, weakened immune systems, elevated thyroid hormones, and the list goes on.  They are in everyone’s blood because of our continual exposure to them.  It would take 4.4 years to rid the body of PFCs with no additional exposure.  That sucks.
  • Teflon is the original non-stick pan coating.  Several companies use the same technology but just call it something different, because “Teflon” is a patented DuPont name.
  • Actual case: Two pregnant female workers in a 3M factory that makes non-stick polymers gave birth to children with varying eye abnormalities.  3M decided to run their own study on the matter and determined that the chemical conditions were of enough concern that they relocated 50 female employees from the plant.
  • I began my marriage with a beautiful 14-piece set of Teflon-coated cookware. I got rid of most of the set about eight years ago because the coating was coming off in my food. I kept the steamer, dutch oven and a large frying pan. They remain in my cabinet today.
  • PFOAs are supposed to be removed from the market by 2015, but I am not the least bit interested in waiting that long, nor do I blindly trust whatever chemical will replace them.

Suffice it to say that I will definitely purchase new cookware.  I do have a great set of stainless steel cookware already, but stainless is not the best for delicate things like scrambled eggs.  I need something that is egg and omelet worthy.  The answer? Cast iron.  Yep…the same stuff my Father-in-law takes to the hunting lease each year is exactly what I need in my kitchen.  Who’da thunk?

Aside from not having any of the PFCs to release into our food, cast iron does release iron, which the American diet traditionally lacks.  (Scary that EVERYTHING that touches our food can add something to it, isn’t it?) The premier manufacturer of cast iron cookware in America is, of course, Lodge.  They have lots of cool cookware, and right now they are having a special Earth Day sale!  And I also found some rather fancy ceramic-coated cast iron at Le Creuset.  By fancy, I mean it looks great AND it’s expensive.  So I was all excited when I found the Green Mom Review and her post about Cuisinart’s GreenGourmet line.  These are hard-anodized ceramic-coated aluminum cookware items at a way more affordable price.  And lo-and-behold, they are even sold at BB&B.  (Apologies to BB&B for the former dissing.  You guys need to AD-VER-TIZE the green stuff, ya know?)

But I’m leaving the Le Creuset on my Amazon wish list, just for good measure. After all, it comes in rrrrrred.  :)

6 comments

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  1. Jessica R.

    Well crap.

    Isn’t anything safe? It’s scary how many bad things are lurking in seemingly innocent everyday items.

    1. Lori

      No, I’m convinced nothing is safe. LOL!

  2. Alison Golden

    Just make sure you can lift it. I rue the day 15 years ago I let my husband go out and buy our skillet. Beautiful, highest quality cast iron but I can hardly lift it when it’s empty let alone when it’s full of sauce or some such. Of course my husband can lift it just fine but he’s not the one doing the cooking. So beware! :-)

    1. Lori

      You bring up an excellent point, Alison, and that reminds me why I don’t have any cast iron in the first place. I do recall the few pieces I have held as being extremely heavy. I would have a hard time wielding it around my kitchen, but I’m still willing to try a piece or two. ;)

  3. Mrs. Bachelor Girl

    I got a couple pieces of Le Creuset (a Dutch oven and a stock pot) for wedding gifts, and I am in LOVE. I keep an eagle eye out for sales on it, and I’ll let you know the next time I run across any!

    1. Lori

      Please do!!

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