January 18, 2007

Personal Post 1 - Life Without the Microwave

In April 2005, I tossed the microwave and I thought I'd report on that event, and its aftermath, as my first official "personal post" here at Everyday Simplicity.

Long story short: haven't missed it. Not even once.

Why did I do it?

In Spring 2005, I read The Maker's Diet and that led me to surfing the web, learning about the safety (or lack thereof) of microwaved food. Skeerey stuff, more details on that down below.

How'd I do it?

Well, first, I prepared myself for what I perceived to be a tremendous sacrifice. (I gave myself permission to sigh a lot, and I ate more chocolate.) Then, I kept a list of how I used the machine - kept it up for a couple of weeks.

What a revelation: I only used it to heat water for tea, and once to defrost some chicken. I was surprised. So, on the last day of the month, surprisingly without angst, I unplugged it and toted the thing out to the alley, for garbage pickup. Away it went.

Today, I can report that I'm glad it's gone. Not only for the health benefits (again, all those details are still to come), but it increased my quality of life. Seriously.

Now, I boil hot water in a wonderful blue tea kettle, and listen for the whistle. Then, I use one of a collection of tea pots to brew tea for the daily pitcher of iced tea or I have a pretty tea mug at the ready, for a single cup.

Sure, I'm not standing at the counter waiting for a ping, but I've got the time to take care of a little thing while I'm waiting for the whistle. I get the paper, I unload the top rack of the dishwasher, I water some plants. We're not talking a big time differential here - the mug has water for tea within three minutes with a kettle.

Defrosting means thinking ahead or revising the dinner menu if I forget. That's okay. I've found that over time, I'm not forgetting anymore - it's like I've settled into something here. I'm cooking at home for almost all my meals now, something I wasn't doing in April 2005. But I suppose that's the topic of another post.

Back to the 'wave. I do admit to getting a toaster oven, so I could heat or cook or toast without firing up the big Westinghouse oven. In 5-10 minutes, I have hot food that has real brown marks on it and no rubber corners.

I think that this one change has influenced other positive changes in my life, albeit in a small way. My mornings feel cozy when that kettle sounds, and the three minutes instead of 50 seconds for the mug in its own way forces me to keep a slower, steadier pace. There's a ritual here that I see in old movies, read about in books set in the English countryside. Suddenly, I'm a part of all that.

It's a simpler way of living, and I like it.

Now, about the health issues of microwaved food.

1. "People who ingested microwaved foods showed a statistically higher incidence of stomach and intestinal cancers, plus a general degeneration of peripheral cellular tissues and a gradual breakdown of the function of the digestive and excretory systems. Due to chemical alterations within food substances, malfunctions occurred within the lymphatic system, causing a degeneration in the immune system's ability to protect the body against neoplastic (cancerous) growth. Microwave exposure caused significant decreases in the nutritional value of all foods studied, most significantly in the bio-availability of Bcomplex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential minerals and lipotropics (substances that prevent abnormal accumulation of fat). Heating prepared meats in a microwave sufficiently for human consumption creates the cancer-causing agent d-nitrosodiethanolamine. Cancer-causing free radicals were formed within certain trace-mineral, molecular formations in plant substances -- particularly in raw root vegetables. Ingestion of microwaved foods caused a higher percentage of cancerous cells within the blood serum. Microwaving foods alters their elemental food substances, leading to disorders in the digestive system. The use of microwave ovens was banned in Russia in 1976." -- Cambridge University

2. "From the conclusions of the Swiss, Russian and German scientific clinical studies, we can no longer ignore the microwave oven sitting in our kitchens. Based on this research, we will conclude this article with the following:

1). Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term - permanent - brain damage by "shorting out" electrical impulses in the brain [de-polarizing or de-magnetizing the brain tissue].
2). The human body cannot metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.
3). Male and female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating microwaved foods.
4). The effects of microwaved food by-products are residual [long term, permanent] within the human body.
5). Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients of all microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.
6). The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in microwave ovens.
7). Microwaved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths [tumors]. This may explain the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in America.
8). The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.
9). Continual ingestion of microwaved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations.
10). Eating microwaved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence."

- Dr. Joseph Mercola

BBCNEWS.com ("Cancer Risks in Microwaved Food")
CambridgeUniversityNet ("Health Risks and Dangers of Using Microwaves in Food Preparation")
Mercola.com("Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cooking")

Illustration: The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, by John Tenniel, appearing in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865).


wesleyjeanne said...

In my last house I lived for five years without a microwave. Why? Because I had a built-in one in the home before that and never bothered buying one...because I never used it. Really. I just didn't. I rarely ate microwaved dinners, and then only at work. If I needed to heat water ot cook, say, an ear of corn or defrost something, it never occured to me to even use the microwave. Of course, everyone commented, wondered aloud how I could live without this modern marvel, so I bought one. And continued to never use it.
My current house again came with a microwave built in. I use it to warm my dog's food and every once in a while to heat those bags of mocrwaveable rice, but then only rarely.
My guess--you'll continue to not miss it.

*BB* said...

When I moved in with my boyfriend he didn't have a microwave and at first I wasn't sure what to do without it but then I learnt things I had forgotten - cooking on the oven, taking my time to cook from scratch. I absolutely don't miss it and don't want one anymore. Plus I just read about the health implications which has reinforced my choice.

eureka mom said...

Thanks for all the information on the health risks of microwave ovens. I thought the cancer risk was just from standing too close while you were cooking something, but now I see that it is also from chemical changes in the food itself. Wow, pretty scary. Now if I can just convince my family to stop using it...

Mer said...

I'm not saying you're wrong in pitching your microwave -- it's your life -- but your sources on the cancer-causing are all suspect.

The "Cambridge University" link you post is to a page on a *community* website. It's like a Geocities page.

The BBC article you posted was followed up later by the BBC, here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4350407.stm

The report essentially says that the chemical doesn't seem to be as bad as they thought, according to followup studies.

As for Doctor Mercola, check out his wikipedia entry and see the good and the bad. My favorite favorite is the dual spanking recieved by the FDA regarding the products he sells on his website.


also, did you see where he got that article? http://www.ecclesia.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=66

And finally, here's a lovely article published in the Nutrition Action Health Letter, published by the Center for Science in the Public Imge. I leave it to everyone reading to determine the article's and the organization's veracity.


Please feel free to contact me with any arguments, questions or responses you may have.

Have a good one, folks!

ShaydeyMyst said...

What are your feelings on cookware? One of my friends only cooks with cast iron, stainless steel, glass and ceramics. another friend of mine, who lives in many of the same ways the other friend does, will cook with only stainless steel...nothing else. Both of them say to stay away from aluminum. What are your feelings?

Anonymous said...

Our microwave has just died. When we considered that we used it only for cooking one favourite dish plus reheating leftovers... the decision was obvious. This is from someone who did a "microwave cooking course"! And I run a secondhand bookshop... what are the most donated cookbooks??? You guessed it

Reba Kennedy said...

Hi Anon,
Thanks for writing! Love the info that everyone is selling back their microwave cookbooks.
Thx again,

Henry said...

Well not only does food taste better when it's cooked anywhere else but a microwave, but it takes the same amount of time. I have haven't used my microwave in 2 years.

Reba Kennedy said...

Hi Henry,

I agree - food does taste better when it's cooked the old-fashioned way.

Thanks for writing!

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