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When I tell people that I haven’t used a microwave in over a decade, the reaction is usually one of these two:
- “You what?” [followed by a look of complete shock and a dropped jaw]
- “Oh, you’re one of those people.” [paired with an eye roll]
Often their initial response is followed up by the classic question, “But how do you heat your food?” Or the very dramatic, “How do you survive?!”
Considering that the home microwave was first introduced in 1967—and that civilization survived just fine with fire and stoves up until then—I’ve been doing alright. In fact, I never (and I mean never) wish I had a microwave. While there are rare times when I’d love to have a bite of a gluten-filled baked good or grab a sandwich like everyone else, I have never once entertained the thought of buying a microwave.
I have my reasons, of course. :)
Today, I’ll tell you all about them.
Microwaves: A Definition
According to Wikipedia, “A microwave oven, often colloquially shortened to microwave, is a kitchen appliance that heats food by bombarding it with electromagnetic radiation in the microwave spectrum causing polarized molecules in the food to rotate and build up thermal energy in a process known as dielectric heating.”
Mmm, sounds tasty, huh?
The original microwave was developed after World War II from newly developed radar technology. The original microwave, called the “Radarange,” was sold in the late 1940’s. Far too large and expensive for home use, it was eventually scaled down and made available for home use in 1967.
And the rest is history, right? Bring on the age of microwavable meals and snacks, convenience foods, and a gradual disconnect from preparing real food with real time-tested methods.
Are Microwaves Dangerous?
Since I already told you that I haven’t used a microwave in over a decade, you probably know where I’m going with this.
In my opinion—based on the research I’ve done and the influence of health experts I trust—I believe that microwaves are not only dangerous, but they’re hazardous for our health. Here’s why.
- Russian research has found that microwaving pretty much any food—from meat to root vegetables to grains—causes the formation of carcinogenic substances. (Carcinogens are known cancer-causers.) Structural degradation caused by microwaves led to most foods losing 60-90% of nutritional food value. [source]
- When you “nuke” your food, you’re creating cellular excitement (or movement) of water molecules. This results in extreme loss of nutrients at a cellular level, leaving you with food that has been severely deconstructed. As health advocate Mike Adams so smartly put it, “What’s really deceptive about microwave cooking is that the food still appears to be basically the same, but at the cellular level, it’s like a nuclear war has taken place. The actual molecular structure has been decimated. If you could see microwaved foods with a powerful microscope, you’d never eat them again because you would recognize just what a nutritional wasteland they really are.”
- Many mothers don’t realize that they’re zapping the antibodies right out of their breast milk when they microwave it. Those antibodies are incredibly important for creating a healthy immune system in babies, but sadly microwaves decrease the levels notably. [source]
- A big question among concerned microwave users is whether or not radiation can “leak” from the appliance into the environment. While most studies are inconclusive on this topic, there have been many reports of radiation leakage on a small level. Although the leakage may be deemed “tiny” and “non-hazardous” if using a new microwave, it’s important to note that our response to radiation is cumulative, meaning that we become more sensitive to it and more affected by it over time with compounding exposure. I personally believe there are far too many sources of radiation bombarding me already (cell phones, wifi, etc.). Why add another to mix?
- Most “microwave safe” dishes and containers are loaded with chemicals. While they may not explode under the pressure of the waves emitted by microwaves, they most certainly can effect the food being heated. That bowl of microwave-safe pasta or chicken stir-fry? It could very well be a chemical cocktail laden with hormone-disrupting, cancer-causing, tumor-promoting nastiness. I personally refuse to trade convenience for a potentially increased cancer risk.
So How Do You Heat Food?
Let’s get back to that survival question, shall we?
First of all, it is 100% possible to survive (and thrive!) without a microwave in your home. I’ve been doing it for years, as have members in my family and a few of my friends.
In fact, I would say that if you want to increase your longevity and maximize the quality of your life, then stop reading this right now and go get rid of your microwave! Say no to the nuke!
When it comes to life without the microwave, here are my tips:
Heating Hot Liquids
If you regularly heat up water for tea, coffee, or other hot beverages using your microwave, fear not. This is an easy switch. Simply use a small pot on the stove or buy a good teapot. Yes, you will dirty a pot (unless you’re heating up water, in which case it won’t even require washing), and yes, it might take 1-2 minutes longer to get the water hot. But in the long run the extra time is negligible. Your health is worth it.
Most things are very easy to reheat on the stove. Soups and stews, for instance, are made for the stove in the first place so just put them in a pot, bring them to a simmer, and you’re done. If you’re reheating something that’s drier—like a pasta dish or stir-fry, for instance—add a small splash of water the pan/pot with the food. Cover it and heat it up over medium. The steam will assist in heating up the food more quickly and prevent it from scorching.
Also, learn to love eating food cold or at room temp. There are many things that I enjoy the next day chilled right from the fridge, and they’re delicious!
I’m going to be hard on you for a minute. If you’re one of those people who cooks entire chicken breasts, potatoes, or eggs in the microwave, please STOP. I don’t like to use all caps with you very often, but this is muy importante, people!
Having something in the microwave for 2-3 minutes is bad enough. Nuke it for 10 minutes or longer and you’re in a total danger zone. You’re not only deactivating and deconstructing the molecules in your food, but when you eat the food you’re completely exposing all parts of yourself—your digestive tract, your blood, your organs, your hormones, your brain cells, your beating heart—to dangerous radiation and potentially disease-causing carcinogens. If you do one thing to improve your health this year, STOP “cooking” your food in the microwave.
Cooking Ready-to-Eat Meals
Frozen entree addicts, this one’s for you. First of all, those chemical-laden trays of food are in no way, shape, or form real food. They are food-like substances—imposters, really—that can sort of pass as a meal. But let’s be honest: they usually taste worse than dog chow and rarely satisfy hunger for more than a few hours. They’re also a storehouse of food allergens, artificial flavors and colors, and low-quality inflammatory oils that are no bueno for you or the earth. Add nuking to the mix and we’ve got a nutrient-void, radioactive tray of an edible substance trying to pose as a real meal.
It’s not food. Period.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Well, there’s really only one way to stop using your microwave. And that is to stop using it. The risks are too great and the dangers too high to waste time on this one.
Of course, I can’t force you to do anything, but I can share my personal stance and hope that you’ll join me in saying no to the nuke! Once you make it a habit, it really does become like second nature. You won’t even remember what you used it for in the first place, I promise.
Share in the comments what your thoughts are on microwaves. Do you use one or did you ditch it long ago like me?