As most of you probably did, I grew up with a microwave. I actually can’t remember life without one. And while we didn’t use it all the time, I do remember it getting quite a bit of use.
And when I started working full time, it was the only way I ever warmed up my lunch.
And when I got married we used it quite often for reheating dinners and frozen foods. I used it to defrost meats, heat water, melt butter, and cook vegetables.
When I got pregnant with my son it was the first time I heard there were any issues about microwaves. I read multiple times that pregnant women shouldn’t stand to close to them for fear the microwaves would escape. And so I always backed away while using it.
Just. In. Case.
The science behind that theory may not stand up to modern machines because of the way they’re designed, but that’s not exactly why I wonder about them anymore. (Though I never stand close to a microwave while it’s cooking. You know…just in case)
After I had my son and began pumping occasionally for when I wasn’t around, I kept coming across literature that told me to never heat breast milk (or formula for that matter) in the microwave. The reasoning was that it caused nutrient loss and damaged the properties that protect babies from infections.
So if it caused nutrient loss in milk for my little baby, what was it also doing to my own food?
It was then that I started making it a habit to use my microwave less, though I did keep using it. Now? I think after a bit more research I might just be ready to give it up all together.
How a Microwave Oven Works
In very simple laymens terms, and the way I understand it, microwave ovens use a form of radio waves (called microwaves) to heat food. These radio waves are absorbed by water, sugar, and fats in foods. When they are absorbed the food molecules get excited and start moving around and heating up. By exciting the atoms of the food is this way, it cooks the food. So there is no actual heat involved.
So Are There Issues?
Unfortunately it’s hard to find concrete evidence against a microwave! I’ve come across story after story after article here on the web, but it’s hard to know who to trust.
One story I kept coming across was a woman whose family alleges she was killed by a microwaved blood transfusion. Supposedly she was doing well after her hip surgery and then a nurse microwaved the blood and she died moments later. Yet another site claimed it was a hoax and that she died of a blood clot. The full case report includes more information about the case and some effects microwaves may have on blood. But the fact of the matter is also that hospitals do not warm up blood in a microwave, do they have a scientific reason not to? Just because a judge couldn’t find concrete evidence doesn’t mean there wasn’t some truth behind the allegations.
The other story I found that was often referred to, was a study done by Hans Hertel. He carried out a small, controlled study by feeding participants (including himself) and testing the blood shortly after consumption.
The food used:
- raw milk from a biofarm
- the same milk conventionally cooked
- pasteurized milk from Intermilk Berne
- the same raw milk cooked in a microwave oven
- raw vegetables from an organic farm
- the same vegetables cooked conventionally
- the same vegetables frozen and defrosted in the microwave oven
- and the same vegetables cooked in the microwave oven
He found that the microwaved foods actually changed properties in the subjects blood. The same changes that were associated with bodily deterioration. But supposedly there was a gag order placed on the whole thing. Again – hmmmm.
It also seems that the Russians have done quite a bit of research on microwave ovens and actually outlawed them at one time. They also seem to have found that microwave cooking decreases bioavailability of vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential minerals and lipotropic factors in all foods tested. (source)
Yet another source posted this quote from FDA science policy analyst Catherine Bailey says “When you microwave, it’s a good idea not to have the plastic touch the food.” The reasoning behind that is the fact the chemicals from the plastics can leach into our foods!
What I Do Know
- Most quick foods made in the microwave aren’t good for you anyways. Those pizza rolls and frozen burritos do nothing good for your health!
- Quick foods are not nourishing foods.
- There may be possible nutrient loss cooking foods in the microwave.
- I am not willing to risk the detrimental effects microwaves may have on my health.
I wish I knew all the science behind microwave cooking and I wish more studies were done. But I do know that I will be making every effort to cut the microwave completely out of my life. And I will be trying to figure out how to keep my husband from microwaving his lunches everyday!
What about you? Do you use one? Know of any other “true” research I can look into?
Ideas on how my husband can still have a hot lunch for work without the microwave oven?
Stephanie’s post (from Keeper of the Home): Living Without a Microwave
Phoebe’s living without a microwave post (from Getting Freedom)
***and tomorrow I’ll have a guest post here by JodiMichelle on how they live without a microwave
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