I am talking about Teflon. I am sure most everyone probably has something that is Non-Stick to cook on in their house. Growing up, I am sure your mom used an icky, flaking, beat up Teflon pan to cook eggs for breakfast in (I know mine did). I am sad to say, I actually think I have a Teflon pan in my own kitchen as I type this. So the question is, “What is Teflon, why is it so bad, and what can I replace it with?”. First, let’s go over what Teflon is.
What is Teflon?
Teflon is the trademarked name for Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This chemical, which makes things “non-stick”, should be classified as a “likely carcinogen” (cancer-causing substance) according to the scientific advisory board of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The EWG (Environmental Working Group) links the chemicals used in nonstick coatings to cancer, stroke and high cholesterol. A breakdown of the chemicals used can be found HERE.
Why is it bad?
When non-stick/Teflon pans are heated, they emit fumes that are toxic. These fumes can kill birds, and sicken humans. Most teflon is made to be used at only low/medium heat. When used at higher temperatures than that, they become toxic. The chemical PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) is found in the blood of most humans on earth.
Toxicologist Tim Kropp, PhD, senior scientist with the watchdog group Environmental Working Group, finds the situation alarming.
“It doesn’t break down — ever. It is the most persistent synthetic chemical known to man,” Kropp tells WebMD. “It would take your body two decades to get rid of 95% of it, assuming you are not exposed to any more. But you are.” (From WebMD)
Animal studies of PFOA have shown that it causes cancer, liver damage, growth defects, immune system damage, and even death. (Please note, I don’t necessarily agree with animal testing at all)
Now, I don’t know about you. . . but I see all these bad things listed about my cookware. . . the stuff I use everyday to feed my family and I have a huge red flag go up!! I do not want to make my family sick. I take all kinds of care and precaution to make sure I am making them healthy, organic, homemade meals. . . then I cook them in toxic chemicals?? Ughh . .It makes me sick to think about it!
So, what is a mom to do? What alternatives do we have to this icky chemical laden cookware? First off, Look for cookware that is void of this family of chemicals known as PFC’s (Also called PFOA, PFOS, C8, PTFE, and Teflon, see link above for descriptions).
Some safe pans to use include stainless steel, hard adonized, and cast iron.
First up, is stainless steel. This set here is almost identical to the set I have. Though mine don’t have the stay cool handles (which at times, I wish it did). One of my Grandma’s always cooked on stainless steel, maybe that is why her food taste so good!! Stainless steel is WAY easier to clean than most people think it would be. It really only takes about 1 min more than the non stick stuff does to clean. I good piece of steel wool, and it shines up super fast! I LOVE the way they cook too!! It honestly isn’t hard to cook on at all!!
Next, is good ‘ol fashioned Cast Iron. This stuff is made to last!! You can use it as a self-defense mechanism, a “you better not be lying” interrogating tool, or for some good home cooked food!! I actually LOVE cast iron. I would use it for more if it wasn’t so heavy (Weight limit with moving). I use to have a Large 15″ cast iron skillet for camping that I put directly into the fire. It was my favorite pan!! Not to mention, cooking in cast iron actually is good for you, as it adds much-needed iron into your diet. The price for cast iron seems a little high, but it is well worth it ~ I swear they last forever. They also come “Pre Seasoned” now. . so you can just start using them. No long waits for them to get seasoned just right! If you have never tried one, start with a small on like this (Click here) to try out. I am sure you will get hooked in no time.
Last is one that I have not personally used, Hard Anodized Cookware. I researched and looked for the best reviewed one I could find that met the “safe pan” criteria. Cuisinart was the winner. “Cuisinart’s GreenGourmet cookware is designed with an exclusive Cuisinart Ceramica nonstick surface, which features a petroleum-free, ceramic-based coating that is applied at a temperature one half that of traditional nonsticks. The coating does not contain PTFE and PFOA, substances often used in nonstick cookware that have raised health concerns over the years”. (From Amazon) I kind of like the name . . . . GreenGourmet!! Sounds . . . good for the environment too.
I hope you will take some time, and seriously consider what it is that you are cooking for your family with. I personally am going to go get rid of my non stick/Teflon stuff now, I can’t keep using it knowing what it can do.
Here’s to keeping our families safe!
*To Purchase any of the pans mentioned above, simply click on the picture.