Did you know that over 90% of U.S. households contain microwave ovens? I guess it isn’t surprising that they are a mainstream appliance since we live in an age of convenience and “fast food”. But, are they worth the supposed convenience? How exactly do they affect the food you are eating?
Here is another statistic for you; 11% of all fruits and vegetables sold are organic. With those statistics it is clear that there are some people who buy organic foods for their health benefits and then destroy those benefits in a microwave oven. Most of these people probably feel much the same as a friend of mine, who tells her story about microwave ovens: “I remember when my family got the first microwave oven in the neighborhood. The whole family stood around this massive, heavy box, peering through a tiny glass and mesh-covered window at a glass of water as it boiled. We were amazed and mesmerized. Thirty-some years later, my last microwave broke.
Considering the price of a new microwave, and considering what we’d heard about microwave ovens and our health, we bought a teakettle instead. We rediscovered the superior flavor (and cheaper price!) of pan-popped popcorn. We began to re-heat our food in the frying pan or the oven. We found that using an improvised double-boiler to melt chocolate was far easier than using the microwave. We learned that defrosting meat in a sink of hot water takes about the same time as defrosting it in the microwave. I’ve always wondered, though, are we healthier? I’ve never really understood what microwaves do.” Let’s explore that, shall we?
A traditional range or oven cooks food by heating it. Mostly, we understand heat. Heat speeds up the molecules in water, evaporating some of the liquids, killing anything alive (bacteria) and causing chemical reactions to occur within the food. Foods break down into a more-digestible form. Humans have been cooking food with direct heat for thousands of years.
The history of the microwave oven is a little shorter. Microwave ovens were invented 67 years ago. They have been used in homes for about 45 years. A magnetron inside the oven produces low-energy electromagnetic waves, similar to radio waves. These waves bounce around the inside of the oven until they encounter food. They are then absorbed by water, fat, oil and some other substances in the food. The waves cause the water and other molecules to be torn apart and altered, creating friction. The resulting friction heats and cooks the food, much as the conventional oven does.
What Happens To The Nutrients?
The “other molecules” that get destroyed and altered include many of the nutrients in the food, such as antioxidants, ascorbic acid and vitamin B12. Let’s use that example of breast milk. It is fairly common knowledge that it should never be heated in the microwave. Even at low powers, the breast milk loses the majority of its protective qualities, leaving a baby vulnerable to illness and missing out on nutrients that are essential to proper developement. Asparagus, broccoli, garlic, root vegetables, and even most meat become much less nutritious when cooked electromagnetically. In a world with deteriorating nutritional values anyway, we can ill afford to destroy the few that remain.
“Nuking” milk, grains, frozen fruits and vegetables, meats and root vegetables, result in known carcinogenic deformities. Even more deformities are created that are unknown to humans and are unable to be processed by our bodies. Indications of cellular damage have been traced back to microwave-cooked foods. For example, Microwave-cooked vegetables contain no cholesterol, yet have been shown to increase cholesterol, an indicator of damage and increased stress inside the body.
Are We Cooking Ourselves?
In addition to the destruction of our food, microwaves do contribute to the cumulative radiation effect of cell phones, computers, satellites, baby monitors, radio towers, smart meters and a host of other electromagnetic devices. The cumulative effect of radiofrequency (RF) radiation can cause disorders ranging from headaches, insomnia and tremors to heart problems and cancer. People whose immunity is otherwise compromised may be even more vulnerable. Some people may choose to limit their exposure to RF’s by eliminating these devices in the home, including the microwave oven.
For some people, getting rid of the microwave oven may mean learning to cook all over again. After relying on the device for so many years, the switch will feel very foreign. If you plan ahead, eat more raw food, and re-think your food prep, however, you will soon develop new, healthier, tastier cooking habits that don’t take any extra time. In fact, you will probably start wondering why anyone ever uses anything so inconvenient!