DITCH THESE CHEMICALS
I speak to toxicants in our environment often and for good reason. Research is finally linking some of our health challenges to an overflow to environmental toxicant exposures.
Let me clarify the difference between the words: toxin and toxicant. Toxins are poisons produced within living cells or organs of plants, animals, and bacteria (think snake bite). Toxicants are synthetic, human-made, toxic chemicals. Toxicants are mostly what I refer to in my posts.
We can take our power back by cleaning up the big everyday items that we are exposed to such as: bath, body & skincare, household cleaning products, cleaner food options and ditching those toxic pots, pans and food storage.
All these can make a big difference in lowering your everyday exposure and ultimately your overall toxic burden.
Let's jump in and explore our cookware and kitchen storage. I want to look at some things we will want to Ditch. Then we will focus on our Switch options.
1. PTFE & PFOA
These are in the family of PFAS (known as forever chemicals). CDC has linked to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.
Found in: Teflon & other non-stick cookware, food packaging and contact paper (e.g., fast food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags. Also in many personal care, carpet, & outdoor clothing.
Aluminum is a known neurotoxin and some research has linked it to learning disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, and triggering of autoimmune conditions. To be fair, there are some arguments that leaching is low and safety is a matter of debate depending on which side you stand.
Found in: Many areas in the kitchen, but to lower exposure I always try to avoid aluminum foil, disposable baking trays, foil packets, food cans and soda cans.
A synthetic compound found in plastics to make them clear or stiff. They act as an endocrine disruptor, liver damage, thyroid damage and more.
Found in: food storage containers, plates, cups, and utensils
Also, keep an eye out for lead,. nickel and copper.
Now that we know some of the chemicals you may aim to avoid - let's take some of the stress out of the Ditch & Switch process and walk you through some safer alternatives.
It can be overwhelming and not to mention costly to do a full kitchen overhaul, so we have some tips to help you narrow down how to get started.
Pay attention to what you use daily in your kitchen. That pan, that pot, those plastic leftover storage containers, that plastic juice container, those plastic utensils, those plastic mixing cups, ect..
Once you note your everyday items - ditch those and switch. We have great starting options for you in our Nourish Shop.
You can build on your toxic-free kitchen makeover as funds and time opens for you.
Is durable, long-lasting, and requires minimal cleaning. It can also be used on the stovetop as well as for baking, and distributes heat very evenly. It takes a little extra care when it comes to cleaning and then seasoning it, but if done right - it can be virtually non-stick.
Note: Because small amounts of iron can leach into your food - if you have high iron levels or hemochromatosis you will want to use caution and maybe rotate swapping with stainless steel. We have low iron in our family so it is our go to.
Heats quickly, and has been found to brown food better than non-stick alternatives. Great for fry and sauce pans, baking trays, muffin tins, mixing bowls ect.
Note: This was a hard switch for me, as I was used to non-stick pans for frying eggs and stainless steel took me some time getting used to. A tip is to generously coat the bottom and side of the ban with oil or fat - this will help with the sticking. It takes a little longer to clean, but I feel better knowing I am not having toxic chemicals like PFAS leach into my family's food.
Carbon steel is used for frying pans and woks. It’s similar to cast iron but lighter in weight which is a great benefit as cast iron can be heavy. Like cast iron it too can leach small amounts of iron into food.
Glass (think pyrex, corning ware)
Glass is a naturally non-toxic cookware material and the baking dishes are also non-porous, so odors and stains won't seep into them as you cook your food. Most glass cookware is dishwasher-safe and safe to use in the microwave, oven, fridge, and freezer.
There are many kitchen options for glass and most are reasonably priced: pies & loaf pans, various baking dishes and stove top options, measuring cup, leftover storage containers and more..
Note: Vintage Corning ware (the ones with the pattern) have been shown to leach lead.
Semi-porous nature promotes better air and moisture circulation.
Note: Must look for made with lead-free clay and unglazed.
Stainless steel cooking utensils are a great choice. They are not porous, so no harmful chemicals or bacteria will get on them. They also will not rust due to the chromium found in them.
Bamboo wood are a great option. While many wooden utensils are porous and will eventually have bacteria and harmful things leak into them, bamboo is not one of these woods. Bamboo does not absorb anywhere near as much water as other wood and is antimicrobial. Bamboo cooking utensils are environmentally friendly as they are biodegradable.
As I dug deeper into research in the area of safe cookware, I became more convinced not go with the "new" hype product or "new green" option. This is because there is conflicting information on many of these products and I feel in time - they will be further tested and we can then trust the data more comfortably.
I feel comfortable using the above Switch options with my family. No material is perfect, but I always circle back to the reality that I am not always trying to be 100% avoidant, as that is near to impossible and can cause a great deal of stress. Rather, I educate to lower our big exposures, support of natural detox pathways and be conscious, educated consumers.
Cooking with acidic foods, like tomato sauce, exacerbates leaching, so pay close attention to using it with cast iron.
Avoid colors in cookware - the colors may leach lead.
Always do your own research, as new information can change recommendations over time.
For safer Switch Alternatives visit our Nourish Shop. We have vetted many products that are listed there and use many of them in our household.
Have a Nourishing Day!
Sources: cdc.gov/pfas, PMC5651828, paleohacks.com/toxins-in-cookware