I’m still walking that tightrope between informing you and scaring the bejeezus out of you, so I thought it would be fun to look inside your kitchen and see what we can find to eliminate in our quest to reduce your toxic load. And no, I’m not talking about the processed food, the sugar, or the BPA filled plastic. (Although we should get those things out of our lives.) Today, I’m focusing on the pots and pans you use to cook your food.
Non-stick pans and pots are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (i.e Teflon) which is a part of a family of chemicals called poly-fluorochemicals (PFCs), and they are highly toxic. And we have known that they are highly toxic for a very long time. As far back as the 1950s, DuPont (maker of Teflon) has been warning us to literally keep our canaries out of the kitchen when cooking with their product to avoid the bird’s untimely death. Talk about your canary in a coal mine. But of course, very few of you are canaries, so here you go. From the Environmental Working Group:
“PFCs have been found in nearly all Americans tested by federal public health officials. Chemicals from this family are associated with smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and weakened immune defense against disease.”*
Cooking with non-stick pans not only expose you and your loved ones to toxins but it also damages one of your most vital detox pathways, the liver. That ain’t good!
You may say, thanks for scaring the poop out of me but I can’t afford to replace all of my kitchenware and now I’m terrified. Never fear, I have some tips for ya.
- Replace as you can. You don’t have to throw out all your pans and pots today but you can make a plan to replace things as you can. Start with your most used pan or pot and work your way through the rest when your budget allows by replacing them with one of the following:
- Cast iron pans. Cast iron is your go-to solution when seeking to replace your non-stick pans. These pans last forever so you can often find them at estate sales, thrift stores, in a box of your great grandmother’s effects, etc., etc. I’ve had really great luck with these pre-seasoned Lodge skillets. I plan to divide my cast iron set between my kiddos when I leave this earth. There are many resources on how to resurrect or keep cast iron as smooth and “non-stick” as possible. I like this one.
- Stainless steel pots. Stainless steel is what you want to replace your non-stick pots. I’ve never had a problem cooking anything in a stainless steel pot, just make sure to add enough good fat (coconut oil and ghee are my go-to) to get the job done. Fun fact, if you aren’t sure if that metal pot you have is stainless steel or something else, see if a magnet sticks. If it sticks, it’s a witch…um…stainless steel.
- Practice good care. While you are waiting to replace your non-stick pots and pans be wise about how you use them. Don’t use metal spatulas on them, don’t use abrasive scrubbers, and don’t let them get too hot.** Basically, try to reduce your exposure to this toxic substance by keeping the non-stick component of the pans and pots as intact as possible.
I hope this has given you another way to reduce your toxic load. Stay tuned for more in this series!
*If you would like information on how else to avoid PFCs check out this handy dandy guide by the EWG.
**The higher the temperature, the more toxic the pan.