About a year and a half ago we made the decision to get rid of our microwave for good. We made this decision based upon warnings about the potential dangers they pose. Many of you have expressed curiosity about our reasons, so I wanted to share here. This post is not a scientific article, but instead a personal one sharing the conclusions that we came to after much research done. I would encourage you to take some time and research the issue for yourself and your family.
We’ve gotten used to not having a microwave (just like we got used to not using any paper in our kitchen), and I can honestly say we don’t really miss it.
Microwaves are a Form of Radiation
When using a microwave, it’s recommended that you should never stand directly in front of the microwave oven. You are supposed to stay around 2 feet away. Why? Because even though it is low level, microwaves are a form of radiation. Though the FDA regulates the production of microwaves and emission levels, this is all dependent upon “proper use and maintenance.” Most people have their microwaves for many, many years and never have any sort of maintenance done. Unless you test at your home (and you’d probably be surprised if you did!), you have no real way of knowing what kind of electromagnetic radiation emissions your microwave is actually putting off. Even the FDA information acknowledges that there are rare instances of radiation injury caused by microwaves.
Electromagnetic radiation has been linked to many health problems such as cancer, birth defects, and much more. Yes, this is debated among professionals (many of them in the industry who profit from the sale an use of microwave ovens, of course), but for us it isn’t worth the risk. Life is all about weighing risks, and some just aren’t worth it.
[A note about EMF radiation–this is not only present in microwaves, but also cell-phones, TV’s, computers, certain types of clocks, electricity, and more. Research this, and see what you can do to reduce the dangers to your family!]
Dangers of Plastics in the Microwave
Plastics are horrible–specially when they are touching our foods, and especially when they are being heated. We have almost entirely rid our kitchen of plastics, and I would recommend everyone doing that. They contain chemicals that have been linked to a variety of health problems, and again, they aren’t worth the risk when other alternatives are so readily available.
However, most homes have an abundance of plastics, and most foods are likely being microwaved in plastics–or even worse, styrofoam. This is possibly the worst use of plastic containers! The heating process leaches those dangerous chemicals directly into the food. Even if you aren’t interested in getting rid of your microwave completely, please don’t microwave your food in plastic containers!
As a side note to this, we have also had a few glass containers that were supposed to be microwave safe, that split in two or otherwise broke or shattered while in the microwave.
Depletion of Nutrients in Food
There is a lot of evidence that the process of microwaving can damage the nutrient make-up of the food you are eating, and have a negative impact on the vitamins and minerals in foods. (You can see some articles about this topic here)
Again, there is a lot of debate on both sides of this topic. However, how we fuel our bodies is important. I’ve talked a lot here about our switch to real food, and though I maintain that real food is affordable, many things are more expensive. We decided that we didn’t want to be spending extra money on organic whole foods just to nuke them in the microwave and potentially sacrifice nutritional value. The small bit of convenience isn’t worth the overall potential cost.
On this same note, we just don’t eat many of the things that are cooked in microwaves like frozen dinners and convenience foods, so we have less “need” for a microwave because of that.
Quality/Taste of Reheated Leftovers
One of the main thing we used our microwave for is reheating leftovers, and I can’t count how many meals and food items that we have “ruined” in the microwave over the years. Most haven’t been completely inedible, but when my homemade from scratch buttermilk biscuits are heated up too long in the microwave, they go from perfect to hard-as-a-rock in seconds. Many foods don’t heat up well in the microwave–meat can get dried out quickly, breads are either hard or soggy, and often foods don’t heat up evenly, which means some foods are overheated while some are still cold.
I’m a bit obsessive about food, so when I did re-heat things in the microwave it was in short intervals of heat and stir…over and over until hot. And then, that’s just one plate of food–I’d still have the rest of the family, and by the time everyone’s food is heated, the plate I started with would be cold again.
Overall, we have found that most things actually taste much better cooked and reheated on the stove, and the process is actually just as simple…with the exception of maybe some extra dishes. But, if you use pyrex glass storage containers like we do, you can just pop those in the oven and heat the food there.
Counter Space & Aesthetics
We lived in 2 very small rentals and counter space was at a premium. When I made the decision to get rid of our microwave, I was so excited to have that space freed up for something else, and I still love not having a microwave taking up counter space in my kitchen.
In addition to this, we are all about living simple, more natural lives and that just didn’t include a microwave.
A Note About FDA Approval & Regulations.
I know many people will say that since the FDA approves the use of microwave ovens, they must be completely safe. Though I’m no conspiracy theorist, I have to admit that time and experience has taught me not to trust the FDA approval process completely. They have approved many, many things that have later proved very bad for our health. They have approved things based on dollar signs. It is not a perfect process, and it’s fairly clear that the best interest of citizens and our health is not always at the foundation of their decisions.
Bottom line: Do your own research!
Don’t trust the government to keep your family safe, do your own research. Find reputable sources on both sides of the debate in order to get some balanced information, and then make your decision. If you are a Christian, pray for discernment. Pray that the Lord will guide you in the best choices to keep your family safe and healthy.
- How We Live Without a Microwave
- The Dangerous Truth Behind Microwaves
- How to go Paper-Free in your kitchen
- 31 Days of Real Food