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best cookware and food containers

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
What is the safest kind of cookware? What do you store food in? I have a lot of plastic containers and am wondering if it is okay to store food in them and then heat in microwave or on stove in something else. If plastic is not good to have around, I would like to know so that I can change, but I need to know what to use instead. Also, what material is the bucket you use to keep your homemade laundry detergent?
post #2 of 17
Don't have the most "environmentally correct" house here but I do use glass containers to store food in the frig. and to reheat in the microwave. I do have some plastic containers that I use for bulk storage - flour, nuts, sugar, etc. I have a very small kitchen and like the way my plastic containers stack for storage.

I never heat things in plastic. It can break down and cause chemicals to get into your food when heated.

Hope that helps!

post #3 of 17
Certain plastic containers are designated as microwave safe and others are not. For example Tupperware makes some of their products specifically designed for use in the microwave and others, not. I use microwave safe products for storage, but what I like better are small Corningware containers with plastic lids. I like these because they have a good seal and can be put in the freezer. I also store things in the fridge in larger (but still small) casserole dishes with glass lids to avoid using plastic. Sometimes, after storing in plastic, I reheat on the plate that I want to eat from to avoid heating in plastic even if it is supposed to be microwave safe.
post #4 of 17
I agree, never heat things in plastic. There is a great book on the chemical/hormonal consequences of plastics but I can't remember the name right now. I'll post when I think of it. It is by Theo Colburn and a group of other scientists.

I am wondering about what type of cookware people use too. We have a nice set of pots and pans that have a hard andonized non-stick surface. About a year ago I stupidly used a wire whisk on one and the surface began flaking off so we got it replaced with a cheaper version (teflon I think). Now that one is flaking off and I never used anything metal on it. I know teflon is a carcinogen and my husband says it causes alzheimer's so we are really concerned that this hard andonzied stuff might not be that good either. Does anyone know?
I really really like my non-stick cookware, but were thinking of getting rid of it and getting stainless steel or something.
post #5 of 17

more info please!

ok, I need to know more about this bcz I am just now pregnant & am taking my healthy lunch to work everyday & putting it in the microwave, using those little disposable things, but I reuse them! Any more info about why it ti sbad for you would be much appreciated!
post #6 of 17
I highly recommend reading this book by Theo Colborn:
Our stolen future: are we threatening our fertility, intelligence and survival? -- a scientific detective story.

Basically, plastics (especially thinner, more flexible ones) give off chemicals that end up mimicking (sp?) hormones. It has been awhile since I have read this book, but from what I remember it leads to reproductive problems in men, woman, and fetuses.

To be safe, I would only use plastic containers for foods that are not hot or will not be warmed up. When plastics are warmed up, the chemicals are released more easily.

You can buy nice glass containers that are great for leftovers. They are more expensive, but I think it is worth it in the long run because they last longer and are better for your health. I tried to find glass containers w/ plastic tops that would seal for taking to work, and then microwave w/o the top on. Also, don't ever use plastic wrap in the micro!

I hope this helps spiralwoman! Hope the preg. is going great too.
post #7 of 17
cling wrap is just as bad as plastic as far as microwaving. Even just using it period. It has a chemical that makes it cling.
post #8 of 17
There is some evidence that plastics also give off chemical in water-
so water bottles, milk bottles, etc.

The thing about plasitcs and the chemicals they give off - is we really dont know which plastics give off which chemicals, how much and why.
Most scientist have studies how it affects animals- like frogs and crocodiles, but not humans.

Here is a scary true story for you, if you think some plastics are OK-

My sister is a research scienctist. A friend of hers, in the next lab at Stanford had petri dishes of cells he was studieing. Everyhtning was going great. Then they all started dying. He couldnt figure it out. Turns out that the company had changed the type of plastic they were using in the petri dish. (Note, he wasnt heating the dishes up- it just was naturally outgassing)

I know plasitcs are hard to avoid, and I dont fully, myself. But I do try to limit it considerably, and never ever heat it up.

Teflon- i think there is another thread about teflon here on the site if you want to do a search. On google, you will find a lot of sites talking about teflon and dying pet birds. Apparently, when you heat teflon up, it releases a chemical taht will kill birds. It is disputed about how hot for how long and if the chemical will come off into your food.

post #9 of 17
i hope glass is still safe!:
post #10 of 17
SquirelNutkin - that story is similar to the one told in Our Stolen Future. The scientists found that the plastic stoppers in the top of their little vials were giving off chemicals that mimic hormones. Yep..scary!!

I would love to know more about the teflon (and any non-stick coating) issues too.
post #11 of 17
For cooking I have visionware I got as a wedding gift. It works pretty well and you can see through it!! LOL!!

Corningware has little bowls that come with lids..I have even seen similar ones at the dollar store. They are just the right size for one portion of something..but eerr...they dont hold a whole lot..

I need something slightly larger for when I have gotten really excited about dh's lunch and gone overboard...
post #12 of 17
I use Le Creuset iron cookware, which I've heard is the safest to cook in (along with glass). It's incredibly pricey but worth it, in my opinion -- it lasts forever, and cooks more evenly than anything I've ever used before.

I store everything in glass refrigerator dishes, which can go from refrigerator to microwave very nicely. I find them in flea markets, or cooking.com has some new versions (by Anchor Hocking).
post #13 of 17
I had an ND tell me that it's only #1 plastics that release those chemicals when heated. Is it all plastics? She just recommended buying those big boxes of glass containers at Costco and using those to store your food in.
post #14 of 17
Plastics from the vinyl/PVC family (U.S. recycling code 3) are the most dangerous and should not be used for any type of food or beverage. Some cling-wraps and some water bottles are vinyl.

Polystyrene (code 6) is also a known endocrine disruptor, i.e. it can mess up your hormones. That's Styrofoam and also many of the clear or shiny-black plastic containers used to serve take-out foods. The foam releases more chemicals than the slick version. Also, polystyrene releases more chemicals when in contact w/hot, greasy, or alcoholic substances.

"Other" (code 7) is wise to avoid, just because you don't know WHAT it is.

I use the Corningware w/plastic lids for my lunches at work. They come in several sizes. K-mart and Kohl's carry a good assortment, at least around here.
post #15 of 17
Great question! I use plastic to store in the freezer, but in the refrigerator and to microwave ONLY glass (or in microwave, safe stoneware). My favorite storage containers are some from the Martha Stewart line at KMart, and they are like the old-fashioned refrigerator storage containers -- rectangular and stackable. I find this allows me to keep my fridge better organized and it's easier to see what's in everything.

As far as cookware goes, I use primarily enameled metal, like Le Cruset. Not cheap, but WONDERFUL. I started using it after reading Rebecca Wood's "Whole Foods Encyclopedia" (a must-have kitchen resource for the health conscious!) and finding her website, www.benourished.com. On her website she has some wonderful recipes and information, plus a question and answer forum. It was there I found this question addressed, and I've cut and pasted it from her website below. Hope it's helpful!

Q: What's the healthiest cookware to use? -- Shelly Ann, Lucas, TX.

A: Imagine me offering you two steaming cups of tea. One hand holds a Styrofoam cup and the other a ceramic mug. Without even thinking, you automatically reach for the mug.

One taste of hot tea in a Styrofoam cup and you know you're drinking more than tea. Even though the cup looks stable, it's not. And have you noticed how dried foods stored in plastic bags start to taste like plastic? It's because food ions react with synthetic or metallic ions.

The poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) found in plastic wrap leaches into food according to a Consumer Reports study in June 1998. People eating plastic wrapped cheese, for example, could be ingesting high levels DEHA, a hormone disrupting toxin. Please favor non-reactive containers and covers and do NOT use plastic wrap in a microwave.

Fatty foods and acidic foods react more quickly than other foods. Therefore, never store oils, vinegar, tomatoes or wine in flexible plastic containers because these foods more quickly draw chemicals from plastic. (A heavier, inert plastic container is, however, acceptable). And do not store food in plastic containers that once contained chemicals.

Beyond Styrofoam and plastic, consider the reactivity of your various kitchen tools and cookware. There's good reason why glass and ceramic beakers are used in a chemistry lab where its critical that containers don't taint the experiment.

Non-Reactive Cookware includes earthenware, ceramic, enamel and glass. Quality enamel pots, such as Le Creuset and Chantal are actually a fused glass surface. With proper care, a fine enamel pot lasts a lifetime; whereas, inexpensive enamel cookware from variety stores has such a thin enamel layer that it chips easily and is not worth its purchase price. Once chipped, discard enamel kitchenware or enamel fragments will find their way into your food.

Glass coffee pots and casserole dishes are non-reactive and affordable. Lead-free earthenware and ceramic cookware emit a far-infrared heat, the most effective and beneficial heat for fine cookery. They are found in some kitchen supply shops or from your local potter.

Also, favor non-reactive kitchenware such as wooden spoons, bamboo steamers and paddles and glass storage containers.

While anodized aluminum pots are not reactive, manufacturing them is toxic to the environment, so I can't endorse them. In the anodizing process, the etch reacts with aluminum and the resulting highly caustic outgas is vented into the atmosphere. Neither do I recommend CorningWare or VisionWare because these products contain synthetic polymers.

Reactive cookware includes stainless steel, aluminum, synthetically coated cookware and plastic cookware. Heavy-gauge stainless or surgical steel is the least reactive metal. Remove food from metal as soon as it is cooked to minimize its metallic taste. Once stainless steel has been scratched through normal scouring the leaching of metallic ions is more noticeable.

Cast iron pots are good for quick breads, pancakes and crepes and for sautéing vegetables. Do not, however, cook soups, liquids or acid foods in cast iron as these foods leach harsh-tasting iron from the pot. Keep in mind that acidic and fatty foods in general react more quickly than other foods.

Cooking with aluminum or aluminum foil enriches your food with aluminum to the detriment of your health. Avoid Teflon and all other synthetic coated cookware. They contain polymers that react with and/or chip off into your food. When dry heated, these polymers emit fumes that are lethal to parakeets. Parakeets or not, who needs noxious fumes flooding the kitchen.
post #16 of 17
Thanks for all the great info Annie!
post #17 of 17
I use Pyrex glass containers with plastic lids. If you ever lose / burn the lid you can order replacements from Pyrex.
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