As you know, I’m not a scientist. I am just a girl armed with an opinion and a handful of other people’s opinions that sometimes are factually-based. I would never want you to take what I say as gospel. My only hope is that I’m making you slightly more inquisitive, paranoid, or aware about the shit you come into contact with every day.
One thing in particular I have decided not to come in contact with every day is a microwave. And I’ll tell you why.
I used to be just like you. I grew up on the microwave. I didn’t know how to use an oven or a stove growing up. I basically knew how to toast a toaster waffle, open a can of tuna fish, and microwave Mac and Cheese so it retained just enough moisture to be edible on Day Two.
I worshipped the microwave so much that one year I even gave one to my husband as a gift on his birthday because he didn’t have one in his office…and I thought it would be nice for him to be able to heat up a Hungry Man frozen meal for lunch a few times a week.
(He though it was a Sony Playstation and was mighty pissed at me when he took off the wrapping.)
I started becoming more cautious about the microwave when I got pregnant; carefully avoiding standing in front of a running microwave as “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” instructed.
Then when I had my first kid, I stopped using the microwave to heat up liquids because I learned you could burn him if the liquid heated up unevenly. But mostly, since I was warming breast milk, I wanted to make sure I retained all of the nutrients “as is.” And even though I didn’t have any science to back me up at the time, I just didn’t believe that breast milk from the microwave would be the same as breast milk from my boob.
Occasionally I would microwave the little homemade baby food cubes I made my son, stir them up real well, and then taste them to make sure they weren’t too hot, but it didn’t occur to me that the nutrients in the frozen broccoli would be any different microwaved than warmed on the stove.
I am not so sure now.
Since I started becoming more aware of food, food regulation (or lack therof in this country), and the impact of our habits on our health, I started re-evaluating my use of the microwave. I’m not so sure any more that heating up my food quicker is necessarily better (or even safe, for that matter). Furthermore, after watching the entire series of Lost, I pretty much lost my confidence in Electromagetic fields.
Call me a caveman or a technophobe, but it feels a lot safer warming my food over an open flame.
In the past five years, I’ve almost completely reduced my use of the microwave oven. So much so that we are not bringing it with us when we move at the end of the month. We will have all your normal appliances, but no microwave oven. I will heat all my food in the oven, the toaster, or on the stove.
I know this may seem dramatic to some. Others will ask: Are you still going to use a cell phone? A radio? A TV? What about the harmful effects of electromagnetic fields in those everyday appliances?
And I would say, “Good point!”
And then I would say, “Look, sometimes we make our health decisions based on pure science. And sometimes we make our health decisions based on anecdotal evidence. And sometimes, like I’m doing now, we make our health decisions based on instinct with a little science thrown in for good measure.”
The food I put into the microwave oven just isn’t the same when I take it out. And that creeps me out.
It creeps me out that you can’t put metal in there and if you do, “Watch out!”
It creeps me out that people might use the microwave in my house to cook in a really dangerous manner (ie. heat up food for my kids in a plastic container.)
Hence, my conclusion.
Having a microwave in my kitchen isn’t the right choice for my family.
And that’s all it takes to choose.