Why I Don’t Use a Microwave

May 27th, 2014 at 10:10 am
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Say No to the Microwave!

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]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Reheating Leftovers
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!

Cooking Food
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.

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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.

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Your Turn!

Share in the comments what your thoughts are on microwaves. Do you use one or did you ditch it long ago like me?

 

Comments

  1. Karah Fuhrmann said on May 27, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Our family decided to go without a microwave when ours broke a couple years ago. I almost never miss it now. Only heating up the coffee and tea. Something just doesn’t feel right about microwave ovens. Even the name doesn’t sound healthy!

  2. Stephanie M said on May 27, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Haven’t had a microwave in ten years. Twelve years? Something like that. Our kiddos would not even know how to use one. The little boys might not even know what one is!!
    And YES, we are doing our health a favor because of it.

  3. My family did the same as Karah’s….except it broke probably about 10 years ago! People would give us the same “look” when we said we didn’t have a microwave. I recently got married and moved in with my husband, and our apartment has a microwave. I have to say I’m guilty of using it quite often to cook sweet potatoes for a quick breakfast or lunch, or to reheat things. This makes me rethink doing that, though….

  4. Hallie, would mind sharing any sources you have for the radiation information? I am not questioning you, I would just like to look into it more in-depthly myself.

    Thanks!

  5. Do you have advice for heating up reusable hot-pads filled with rice and/or herbs?

    • Chris: I’ve heard some natural doctors recommend heating up grains of rice or dried beans in the oven and then putting them in a pillow case or sock. You could probably fill it up first and then heat it in a low oven if you will be in the kitchen to keep an eye on it, but it could be a fire hazard so I think the first option would be much safer.

  6. I am concerned that you seem to be equating infrared radiation, which is electromagnetic with the kind of radiation that comes from radioactive chemicals. I haven’t done any research on it, but I seriously doubt that the electromagnetic kind is anywhere near as dangerous as the radioactive kind.

    There are times when using a microwave can be necessary. Like when you don’t have a stove. I don’t have access to a stove in our family beach house where we go every summer. Although I do have an electric fry pan, that just doesn’t work for everything. So I will continue to use a microwave at times like that. The only people I feed with microwaved food are my husband and myself, so I am not endangering any children with it. And we don’t do pre-packaged frozen meals. Microwaves are also very helpful for thawing frozen foods. Even though I’m retired, I don’t have time to always get my foods thawed slowly before I need to cook them. The other consideration I have is that if I cook, whether it is directly cooking a meal, or heating leftovers, my husband is the one who cleans up, and quite frankly, for me the ‘dangers’ of a microwave seem far preferable than having to listen to him complain about how many pots and pans I use…

    I do remember being able to live without a microwave, because I spent quite a few years cooking before I got one. And who knows? If I end up widowed I might once again forego using a microwave. But until then, for me, this is another area where moderation is the key.

    • Susan: Thanks for your comment. For more on the radiation I’m referring to, you can check out the article at the link below. The whole article is informative, but if you scroll about halfway down, there’s a section called “How Your Microwave Actually Heats Food” which is particularly relevant.

      http://bit.ly/1pvnIQa

      We all must make our own decisions, of course, weighing what’s important to us at different stages of our lives. Personally, I’ve opted to skip the microwave scene and stick with eating things cold/room temp or using a stove when I have access.

      Thanks for reading,
      Hallie

  7. Thank you for this post! We have not had a microwave in our home (5 of us) in many years (10 plus?). To reheat leftovers for lunch, which I love to do, sometimes I use a small pot like you. More often I use our toaster oven. Then, I’m not using all of the energy of the full size oven for a small portion. Plus, it’s small size allows food to heat up quicker. I have a few glass Pyrex dishes that are great for a lunch sized portion. Give it a try.

    If you want to experiment with living without your microwave, put painters tape across it as you find new solutions.

    Please stop ‘nuking’ your food, people!

    • Alli: Ha, I love the painter’s tape idea! Sometimes we really do need the visual reminder with things that become so “second nature” after a while. Thanks for reading!

  8. hi there! this post is right up my alley…we had the opportunity to remodel our kitchen last year….new plans did not include microwave…my reasons for not using microwave include some of yours, but also food never tastes the same as when it’s cooked fresh from scratch…how do we heat up?…we have small fry pans and lids…most leftover meals require just a tablespoon of water to steam cook with a lid…it does not take that much time….our main reason why we don’t have microwave is that i want my children to learn first how to cook…they have plenty of time to rely on the speedy microwave….we feel if we introduce traditional cooking methods first, which admittedly are more labor intensive, they can easily learn how to use a microwave…but if we teach short-cuts now, they won’t learn the joy of the cooking process….

  9. Eva: Such a great perspective, Eva! Thank you for sharing. Your kids will thank you one day, I’m sure of it. :)

  10. Brianna Tittel said on May 27, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Great post! While we do have a microwave (built into our kitchen) we rarely use it. I admit that I pop something in once in a while when I’m dead tired and having a screaming kid looking at me for food, but it’s always followed by a pang of guilt as I know what I’m doing to the food.

    Question: do you know if there is any harm to storing things in your microwave if it’s not on? As I mentioned ours is built into our kitchen, so I’ve often thought about using it as more cabinet space for storing food or even dishes.

    • Brianna: Good question. I haven’t seen any research on this so I don’t know for sure. Most of me thinks that it would not be problematic to store items in it, especially if they were non-edibles (like plates, cups, baking dishes, etc.).

  11. Maureen said on May 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    We use a toaster oven the most to reheat. I like the texture of the food that comes from that. Our microwave died and it’s so nice not to have the temptation sitting there – especially for the rest of the family who aren’t as convicted as I am. I can remember my mom putting a plate of food covered with a pot lid over a slowly simmering pot of water to keep my supper hot when I had to stay late at school. Good memories :)

  12. Elizabeth King said on May 27, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I too gave up my microwave when it died. That was last year & it took me a little while to get used to not having it to warm up water or food. However, I didn’t own a microwave when i was first married as they weren’t around then & I certainly survived very nicely. I too now use my toaster oven or a small pot depending on what I am heating. I think I have finally stopped missing one now & I appreciate the extra counter space.

  13. I have not had one for quite some time. I never did cook much in one except for baked potatoes. When I married my husband he brought his with him. It didn’t have a turn table in it so we got a new one….did not last no time. Bought another and the same thing. So went back to using his which finally gave up. Decided I did not need one and have done great without it. Was always concerned about health risk so when the last one went out I said that was it. No more.

  14. Hi Hallie,

    I’m with you on NO MICROWAVES!! As of November of last year when we did a kitchen update and had the built in one moved. A rarely used it in the past for cooking but did use it for warming up things. I was making all these healthy changes over the last few years and the microwave just didn’t fit in. In my mind, anyway. So out it went and in came a nice shiny range hood. So its been 6 months and I can honestly say ” I don’t miss it at all! ” In fact I hadn’t even really thought about until I saw this post. I must say my husband had little time with it but he even agrees its no big deal not having one. And that’s Amazing!!!

  15. I totally agree with you. I simply refuse to use our microwave. Wish my spouse would do the same. There is too much question about the safety of microwaving foods, nutrients lost, etc. I would remove it from our house if I could. Thank you for posting this!

  16. This is such a wonderful post, Hallie! Thank you for explaining the alternate methods on re-heating!

  17. YAY HALLIE!!! YOU CAN USE ALL THE CAPS YOU WANT WHEN TRYING TO SAVE US FROM TECHNOLOGY OR WHAT HAVE YOU!! :) HA!
    I was the last one on the block to finally get one, and then was leery of the thing, so never used it that much…..now-that kart sure could make a great storage space, like others were saying! Anyway, thanks for sharing!

  18. Great topic, Hallie!
    I do have to admit keeping a microwave that was a hand-me-down from my SIL, but before that, we hadn’t had one for 9 years. I never liked the texture of foods that are cooked that way, and I even find that hot drinks, despite being hot, neither taste quite the same nor seem to stay as hot as long as their non-”nuked” counterparts. We are big tea drinkers, as my hubbie was raised with afternoon tea by his Scottish mother, and we have an electric kettle. Ours is stainless steel, made by Kitchen Aid, and is in constant use. We were given a plastic one by Granny, but that one went quietly away, as I don’t like the idea of reheating in plastic. I particularly love the kettle, as my kids can use it on their own.
    Thanks for keeping us thinking!

  19. Marilyn said on May 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I got rid of my microwave last summer. Had been leery of it, but then read of an experiment where plants were watered with either water boiled on the stove or in the microwave. (Cooled off first!) The plants watered with the microwave water died. That did it for me! Now we have a toaster oven to heat things up, and also nice to use in the summer instead of the oven. Thanks for the info!!!

  20. I love this post! I have had my doubts about microwaves for quite some time, especially since trying to eat and live healthier. However, because it was there and it worked, I continued to use the microwave to reheat leftovers or melt butter for baking. Our microwave died just over a month ago, and to be quite honest, I don’t miss it! Actually, I’ve gotten used to reheating things on the stove or eating them room temp, and quite frankly, I feel good knowing I’m not damaging my food. Thanks to your post, I now have no desire to buy and new microwave; I’d rather spend the $$ on something else! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights!

  21. I’m really glad you are an advocate for not using microwaves :). I find that there aren’t many young people who don’t use them, at least among the ones I know anyway. I haven’t used one in over a year now and when I moved in with my boyfriend, we didn’t get one. I don’t find I miss the microwave at all; many meals I love cold/cool, heating up is easy without a microwave, and everything bad that it does to cells, the radiation, etc. definitely are enough to convince me to stay away from that contraption! My boyfriend was the one to convince me to do away with microwave use and I’m really happy he did :). Keep on advocating!

  22. I had no idea! I use my microwave all the time, at least once a day. I’m going to not use it for the next week and see how it goes. Thank you so much for posting this!

  23. I don’t use our microwave for general cooking, but in a busy life of a working Mom it has been a lifesaver. I eat lunch at my desk, and if don’t think I could do a salad or cold lunch every day. We are provided a microwave in the break room, but the situation isn’t where I could get a toaster put in there or other appliances. There is also at least once a week when the sitter has. 15 min turnaround from school to leaving for 4 hour practice and she uses the microwave to heat up my kids dinner. There isn’t time to wait on an oven to heat up. Sometimes, we just have to do the best we can with the resources we have and hope that good outweighs the bad. I am convinced a well balanced meal in a microwave is better than what would happen with the many (many) cold meals we would otherwise be stuck eating.

  24. Michelle said on June 2, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I use my microwave every. single. day.
    It makes for a great oversized timer! And that’s all it’s good for. Lol We are a family of 8 and I can honestly say that I’ve fogotten how to cook with a microwave. Thanks for all of the encouraging facts to back up what we do. :-)

  25. It’s been three years that I don’t have a microwave ! I don’t miss it at all.
    Yay! I’m not the only one !

  26. Hi there, yes, I also don’t use a microwave and everyone thinks i’m nuts. lol. I like to cook and the process of cooking…microwaves make you lazy in my opinion.lol. I haven’t missed it much…

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