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Cooking Tools: What to avoid
Non-stick cookware is a staple in a majority of kitchens across the world today. While convenience of non-stick is clear, the technology behind it not so clear.
Non-stick teflon pans: Up until recently, the go-to chemical used to make non-stick pans was the ‘Teflon chemical’ (Perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA for short). This chemical is so toxic that the company that makes it agreed to phase it out of its products. It is a carcinogen (causes cancer), and prenatal exposure to perfluorinated chemicals may affect the immune system in early childhood. If you have older non-stick pans at home they probably contain PFOA.
We recommend you stop using these pans to cook or reheat your children’s meals. In instances where you have to use them, cook on a medium to low heat. The higher heat temperatures are what cause the chemical to be released into the air and food. Also, make sure the pan has no scratches. Once the pan surface has been perforated you should throw it away immediately.
New non-stick technology: There are various new chemicals and technologies being used in newer non-stick pans. Because these technologies are so new. Proper long-term studies are needed to confirm if they are, indeed, completely safe. When cooking for a younger child, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution and avoid anything that has not been proven to be completely safe.
Due to its physical resemblance to stainless steel, aluminium is often mistaken for a safer cooking material. Unfortunately, pans made of aluminium can release heavy metals into food- aluminium is considered a neurotoxin (high exposures to it has been linked to Alzheimers). Acidic foods, (such as tomato sauce), high heat and general wear and tear cause more aluminium to seep from this cookware into the food. Although the amount of aluminium that a pan would give off is actually very low, as always with young children it is often better to choose a safer option.
Lucky for parents everywhere, there are many tried and tested pots and pans that will not filter chemicals into your family’s food.
When properly seasoned, cast iron is virtually non-stick. An added bonus is that cast iron pans add iron to the food you are cooking and can last decades, making them a great investment.
Widely available, stainless steel is another great option for cooking that will not leach any chemicals into your tot’s meals.Many stainless steel pan users complain about their food sticking to their pans. However, although it does take a bit of practice, there are easy ways to avoid having your food stick when cooking such as ensuring you are cooking on a high heat to seal the food so it doesn’t stick and ensuring the pan is properly oiled and seasoned just before adding the food.
Serving & Storing Tools: What to avoid
Many parents limit themselves to lower quality plastic dishes for children, not realising that there are many safe, non-toxic and stylish alternatives that are widely available to serve food on.
Generally speaking, for hot or acidic meals you should avoid plastic plates. The heat (from food, from reheating or even from the dishwasher) can cause the plastic to leak chemicals like BPA.
Great alternatives to plastic for plates, cups and food containers include:
3. glass (for smaller children consider a silicone sleeve to protect glass)
MettaLife has a wonderful selection of eco-friendly and BPA free food containers, tableware and cooking utensils.
Ethical Enlightenment Blog
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