There are lots of reasons to cook at home — everything from trying out a fabulous dessert to serving up your family’s favorite meal. Most times, it’s enjoyable to cook and usually a whole lot healthier and affordable than eating out. But here’s the thing. Do you know how safe the cookware you use is? It may not be as harmless as you think.
Keep in mind that not all cookware is created equal. To begin with, there is ongoing controversy about certain pans that are designed to be non-stick. Their coating can actually leach a chemical known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA when exposed to high heat and especially if scratched. PFOA has been linked to cancer and birth defects.
Some nonstick cookware can also release PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), which can actually release toxic fumes known to create health problems for animals. And there’s another important reason to avoid traditional nonstick cookware. It doesn’t break down in our environment. You can find out more about PFOA and PTFE by going to DoYourPart.com/Columns.
If nonstick is a must-have in your home, there are more, safer options than ever. You can now find specifically PFOA-free and PTFE-free cookware in many home goods stores. Most are made to be nonstick by using ceramic and silicone. They come in all shapes and sizes and all price ranges.
Earth Pan, Starfrit, and Green Pan are all good options. One word of warning: Avoid using metal utensils on them because it can easily scratch the cookware’s surfaces.
It’s also good to know that safer cookware options are oftentimes much less expensive than those nonstick pots and pans. For general cooking, cast-iron pieces are perfect. A standard cast-iron skillet is not only durable; it can enhance the flavors of what you are cooking. And, get this — it’ll probably only set you back about 10 bucks. Cast iron is beloved by chefs and doesn’t release any toxic chemicals.
Other safe bets are stainless steel, ceramic, and glass cookware, which can even be made from recycled materials.
Taking a little extra time when cooking up your favorite dishes will mean you’re cooking up a meal that’s a whole lot healthier.
Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living,” available at DoYourPart.com.