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Eating Healthier with Organic Foods and Non-Toxic Cookware

By Hannah

About a year ago, I listened to a webinar presented by Stonyfield Farm on the benefits of eating organic foods and how synthetic foods have been found to cause many health issues in both children and adults.  Prior to the webinar, purchasing organic foods wasn’t top on my list of priorities. I was using food safe cookware, storing our food in bpa free containers, and avoiding plastic in the microwave so I thought I was doing just fine! But the webinar quickly changed the importance I placed on organic foods and made me re-think the connection between the food I was buying and how I was cooking it. 

I started to ask myself:

  1. If I’m making sure to cook my food in non-toxic cookware to keep chemicals out, then why am I purchasing foods with chemicals in them?
  2. For others who have actually made a conscious effort to purchase mainly organic foods, are they cooking in non-toxic cookware? Why purchase chemical-free and healthier foods if you are going to allow chemicals back in through un-safe cooking methods?

It’s almost as if the mere connection of non-toxic foods and non-toxic kitchenware had been in front of me the entire time, and luckily it took a webinar to bring the concept to light!  So, with a new outlook, I decided it was worth the extra long trip to an organic food store to purchase organic foods to cook in my non-toxic cookware for a healthier home.

Because of the positive changes this lifestyle has brought my family and me, I thought it was important to share our story and tell others about the benefits of organic foods and non-toxic cookware.  I hope you can take something away from this to help you and your family make changes, big or small, towards a healthier home.

Organic Foods

“Organic foods” are defined as foods that are grown without the use of modern, synthetic products (such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers), do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are processed without industrial solvents or food additives. In other words, they are foods grown without chemicals, pesticides, drugs, and hormones.  There are many benefits to choosing organic foods; here are a few that have stood out to me:

Personal Health

  1. No chemical pesticides: Studies about the detrimental effects of synthetic products on our health are rampant across the media, and by eating organic, I’m taking one big step towards avoiding chemicals from entering my body.
  2. Nutrition: Organic foods have a higher nutritional content than conventional foods. The chemicals used to keep our non-organic fruits and vegetables looking beautiful right up to the dinner plate actually kill microorganisms in the soil they are grown in. These chemicals prevent soil from enriching our food with nutrients; but organic foods help avoid this problem!

Environmental Health

  1. Water supply. Growing organic food is better for our water supply than conventional growing methods because the pesticides used by industrial farmers inevitably make their way back into our water supply and the environment.
  2. Soil. As for our earth’s soil, not using chemicals in soil helps keep it healthy. This healthy soil feeds organic plants, which give carbon back in return, leaving us with better soil in the long run.

Non-Toxic Cookware:

There are many types of cookware available, so narrowing down your options can be time consuming and difficult. One thing to keep in mind is to avoid cookware with a non-stick/PTFE coating, which has been found to leach PFOAs (a harmful chemical with negative health effects) into your food.  If you want to learn more about the different types of cookware available, please visit our Cookware Article and to learn more about PFOAs, click here!  In the mean time, here are “cliff notes” on two types of cookware known to be safer for cooking:

  1. Cast Iron Cookware. Iron is essential to producing red blood cells in our body. While large amounts can prove to be poisonous, iron cookware only provides less than 20% of total daily iron intake, which is within safe levels.  Many of us don’t get enough iron rather than too much, so cast iron cookware is a great choice!
  2. Stainless Steel Cookware. As the most popular type of cookware in North America, stainless steel cookware is lightweight, fairly inexpensive, easy to use, and considered one of the best and safest options for cookware! The chemicals found in stainless steel cookware include iron, nickel, and chromium.  These chemicals only leach in small amounts, which do not cause enough harm to create concern. To help avoid these chemicals from leaching into your foods, use a less abrasive method of cleaning to help avoid scratching the surface.

By combining these two concepts, you can help create a healthier kitchen for you and your family! While this is just a start, keep in mind there are numerous ways to create a healthier home that don’t just end in the kitchen.

Bio:  Hannah is the oldest daughter of six.  She is the President of Essential Safe Products,which was founded by her mother to help spread the word about toxic chemicals, and writes for the blog A Cup of ESP.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great info. I am using cast iron pan for my family. My concern is currently I have a 7 month old baby and he just started his solid food. So we bought baby brezza, a small steamer and blender, which says BPA free. Will it release toxic chemicals when steaming at high temperature?

    Like

    August 2, 2013
    • Hi Vivian – Personally, I’m not sure, so I asked Hannah, who wrote this guest post, to share her point of view. – Jennifer

      According to Hannah: “It’s hard for me to determine if this is really a safe option. I mean in my mind, heating up something made of plastic isn’t always the best idea. Simply because plastic is so filled with chemicals it just makes me a little skeptical. I prefer glass or stainless steel for heating things up. The product does say it’s free from BPA and phthalates but the safety of it in cooking is something I can’t really comment on. Personally, I don’t think I’d use it when I have kids, but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. At least it won’t leach BPA and phthalates, but doesn’t mean it won’t leach other toxins found in plastics. Their site is very vague and it surprised me they didn’t know what the product was made of when I called the company.”

      Like

      August 6, 2013
      • Hi Jennifer and Hannah,
        Thank you so much for your reply and following up with the company.
        I totally agree with you. I am only using the blender function and make the puree for my baby now.

        Like

        August 6, 2013
      • You’re very welcome! The company ended up returning Hannah’s call this afternoon. According to Hannah, “The rep said it is made of a bpa free plastic and a food grade polypropylene plastic. She said the heating element is stainless steel. All products FDA approved. That said, seems like plastic will be heated like I suspected. Not sure it’s as safe as just stainless or just glass.”

        Like

        August 6, 2013
  2. Very strict measures are taken to ensure organic farming. This is why organic products are very healthy. Also the resource of land is maintained if farming is done organically.

    Like

    April 4, 2013
  3. I got rid of all my non stick years ago and slowly purchased stainless steel pieces…..

    Like

    February 14, 2012
    • I think this is what I’ll need to do. It will be a hard adjustment. Non stick is so easy!

      Like

      February 14, 2012
  4. I have slowly moved away from the non-stick and try to use my stainless steel frying pans more. I am currently waiting for the cast iron pan that my mom ordered for me for Christmas! Very excited! It will be used exclusively for all Michael friendly foods…meaning no eggs, dairy, beef, fish or shellfish will be cooked in it. As tempting as it may be to use, I just may have to buy another in a different colour! I do buy some organic products and purchase locally as much as possible. Unfortunately, the cost can be off putting! Great article. So many variables to consider when trying to lead a healthy lifestyle.

    Like

    February 10, 2012
    • I know what you mean – organic is so expensive. There are some things I try to buy organic as they are known for containing higher rates of pesticides – apples, grapes, strawberries, carrots, etc. But I just can’t justifiy everything. If I don’t buy organic I try to buy from Canada or the US. If it comes from farther away the produce usually contains more pesicides and just generally travels farther, so isn’t such an eco friendly option. Other countries don’t have the same guidelines on pesticides – so who knows what you’re getting. Meats are such a debate. I know there is so much added, but buying organic is just ridiculously expensive. It’s really disgusting. It’s really a big internal debate for me – I feel guilty not buying all organic now, but for now we just can’t afford to buy all organic.

      I don’t have a cast iron pan – hope you enjoy it! It’s something I’m just starting to be interested in.

      Like

      February 13, 2012
  5. Great guest post! I knew that cast iron cookware puts some amount of iron into our food, and had heard that this is actually a good thing for women since we need more of it anyway. Happy to note that the majority of my cookware at home is either stainless steel or cast iron though this article left me wondering if the supposedly eco-friendly nonstick cookware is healthier than the usual stuff. Do you know by chance?

    Like

    February 10, 2012
    • Hi Melissa – That’s great that you’re using safe cookware. That’s the one thing I feel a little guilty about and need to change, my cookware. I’m using Calaphon, which I’m sure isn’t non-toxic. I can certainly send this question across to Hannah. Can I ask you the particular brand? That may help her better answer your question. Thanks, Jennifer

      Like

      February 10, 2012

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