The Microwave: Why You Should Avoid It and Other Options
Written by Kate Tietje, Contributing Writer
Back when I was in high school, I remember sitting in French class one day. I don’t remember what brought it up, but the teacher told us that she didn’t have a microwave. We were honestly shocked. Why, we thought (and said). In this day and age, everyone has a microwave! It’s so convenient! How do you cook without a microwave?!
I continued to happily use my oh-so-convenient microwave for several more years. That is, until I began to move towards real food in 2009. By the end of that year, I was convicted that it needed to go. And it did — we put it away at the very end of 2009 (replaced it with my lovely Excalibur dehydrator!) and haven’t looked back. It’s been over two years, and I don’t miss it. Are you curious why I did that…and how it’s worked out?
Why Get Rid of the Microwave?
Microwaves are undeniably convenient — if you want to reheat leftovers, or defrost meat for dinner. But using them comes with a price.
The way that microwaves work is by making use of an electromagnetic field. (Hang on — it gets a little technical, but I’ll try to keep it brief and understandable. My eyes were glazing over a little as I was researching all this, and I don’t want that to happen to you!) Basically, there is a magnetron in each microwave, that creates an alternating current, acting on the electrons in the food and causing them to become “excited,” increasing their kinetic energy — which creates heat, cooking the food.
This process is basically radiation, where molecules gain or lose an electron through ionization. It doesn’t sound like that big a deal, but it actually changes the molecular structure of the food.
This magnetron and the micro-waves it produces are so dangerous that all modern microwaves have to have at least three safety measures in place so that if the door opens, the microwave stops immediately. Being exposed to micro-waves causes all sorts of problems (see below)! Standing close to the microwave is discouraged, as is staring directly at it, because microwaves can sometimes be felt in the couple inches just outside the door.
Anyone who has ever used a microwave knows that food cooked this way doesn’t look or taste like food cooked on the stove top or in a conventional oven. It burns more easily. Some things become rubbery, sticky, or have other strange textures. It doesn’t taste the same. The food can have “hot spots” and “cold spots” due to uneven heating. These are easy ways to notice that microwaving food is not the same as “normal” cooking, clearly! And it is because of this ionization.
Another problem with microwaving is the containers in which most people microwave foods — plastic, or coated paper. These can contain BPA and other chemicals that, when heated, leach into the food. We all know how harmful BPA is now! (If you haven’t heard, BPA is an endocrine disruptor that really messes up your hormones.)
Some experts have linked microwave use to:
- Leukemia and other forms of cancer
- Cataracts (from looking too closely/radiation escaping)
- Irregular heartbeat/other heart issues
- Nutrient loss/damage in food
- Higher cholesterol levels (which suggests damage to the body)
Okay, that’s a little bit scary. And definitely enough to make me glad I haven’t used a microwave in over two years! But what next?
Image by Katalicia1
But The Convenience…!
Like I said, sure, microwaves are convenient. Luckily, there are ways to do all those things you do with your microwave in other, safer ways!
If you want to cook or reheat a small amount of something, use a toaster oven. It heats like a regular oven, but since it’s tiny, it doesn’t take as long to heat up (nor will it make your house hot in the summer). Try using this to reheat foods or bake small amounts.
Your regular ol’ oven shouldn’t be ignored, either! I use mine all the time. We store most leftovers in Pyrex glass containers, so we simply remove the lid, pop it in the oven, and turn it on. (Putting cold glass in a cold oven won’t shock and break the glass. Though honestly Pyrex is really sturdy, and I have put frozen glass into a hot oven and not had a problem. Don’t take my word on it…but I’m saying I’ve done it.)
Boiling water or reheating things like soup goes just fine on the stove top, and doesn’t take much longer. Realistically, rather than have hot soup in one minute, you have it in 10. So what? Start it a few minutes earlier and do the dishes while you wait. 🙂
Do you hate realizing you haven’t defrosted the meat and it’s 5PM? Put it in a sinkful of hot water. Now, I know — “Only cool water, hot water is a breeding ground for bacteria.” If you are only going to leave the meat for 10 or 15 minutes until it’s mostly thawed, it will not have time to grow anything (that ‘cool water’ instruction is more for bathing a frozen turkey for several hours). Though honestly I have occasionally forgotten about meat for a few hours and as long as I cooked it, we’ve never gotten sick. (I’m bad…I break lots of ‘food safety’ rules all the time….)
Honestly, I don’t even have a toaster oven. I rely on my oven, stove top, and hot water to thaw or reheat anything I need and I don’t miss my microwave at all. I enjoy the convenience of being able to pop a glass container of food directly into my oven, turn it on, and go take care of something else — say, putting my kids down for a nap. When I come back, it’s perfectly hot enough. In a microwave it would have heated, stopped, and cooled back down already, not to mention been strange in texture. “Long” stuff works better with my lifestyle than “short” stuff anyway. 🙂
Stephanie’s note: Our family also does not use a microwave and hasn’t for about 5 years. We don’t miss it. We heat food up in primarily the sames ways as Kate’s family, although we do own a toaster oven and find it very handy for this purpose.
What About Other Stuff?
The one use that I do admittedly miss is heating those rice-filled socks to use as heating pads. They aren’t consumable (obviously) so it’s not a dangerous use. If you have a microwave still, you can use it for that. Mine is inaccessible. I’m told you can heat these up in an oven on 350 for 5 – 10 minutes; just check it frequently so it doesn’t burn. The same goes for other convenience things — if it can be done in a microwave, it can be done in another way, too.
My Husband and I have not had microwave since we’ve been married(almost 7 years!). This most recent apartment we moved into has one built in under the cabinets. I have chosen to unplug it and use it as a bread box. Throughout this time not using it I have found many good ways of heating and re-heating food. Now I know hubby uses it at work when I send him off with left-overs but that is the maximum of our use.
There is definitely a good helping of scientific illiteracy in this article. Here are a couple of points I felt could help.
I mean no disrespect, but the author mentioned that they “researched” microwaves, but clearly demonstrated a basic lack of science understanding and failed to explain why some of the science concepts mentioned are not harmful. A few people here have stepped up with some good science but I definitely see a bit of technophobia and misconceptions here and in the comments.
Microwaves use magnets that create fields. Magnetic fields occupy a certain space but decrease with distance. This is why one needs to bring two magnets close together for them to attract or repel. Microwaves are safe if you are not standing in the magnetic field. No the magnetic field will not fill your kitchen as they are quite small. They can however, extend a bit beyond the box but not by much. You can get close to the field by standing close to the box. I would never press my face against the glass for example and wait a minute or two before reaching in to let the field weaken and the light to dissipate. Once again, they are safe to use if used properly.
When we moved here we decided not to get a microwave, as we thought sold in China microwave is probably even more dangerous. I don’t miss it often. My only oven is a toaster oven so we use that for reheating also and that is pretty fast. Other things are pretty easy to reheat on the stove top.
I was at a loss for a while how to heat up our rice bags, but found putting them in a covered baking pan for 10-15 minutes works OK. Although I would definitely check these frequently and never leave them unattended for the risk of a fire hazard.
Our microwave died last year, and I was fine not having one. Of course, this Christmas, my mom bought one to replace the one that had died since we hadn’t replaced our old one. Now, we don’t really use it that much, but I feel like I can’t get rid of it because my mom got it for me…
My MIL did the same thing to us,lol! We were living fine without it, but my teenage son wanted to eat frozen dinners and snack type things so she bought us one for Christmas. I was kinda upset though didn’t say anything. He doesn’t need to eat that junk anyway. I do miss that extra space on the counter too.
We haven’t used a microwave for over 2 years now and got rid if it about 18 months ago. Don’t miss it at all. Thought the biggest pain would be reheating single serves… you know those odd night’s when someone needs to have dinner later or lunch is a leftover… now I just put a bowl with food in the top level of a steamer saucepan with the lid on and simmer with water in the bottom for about 10mins or so – works great for most things!
Our family hasn’t had a microwave either for about 3 years. People give you crazy looks when they find out you don’t have one. We use a toaster oven, stovetop and oven as well. We don’t miss it and know it’s not worth having. I do occasionally use it at work to heat up leftovers.
We switched from a microwave to a toaster oven a year ago. I don’t really miss it at all. We mostly used it for microwave popcorn, which we now pop with an air popper. After reading your article, I’m glad we got the toaster oven. Yes, it does take a little longer but it’s worth it.
We do not use one either. It really does not take much longer to reheat food in the oven. I use the broiler for a quick reheat, or saucepan depending on the item. Great post!
I use my microwave all the time—for storing my cast iron skillets! I don’t use it to cook anymore and don’t miss it a bit. I have a toaster oven now, and that works really well for us.
Just curious . . . does a convection microwave pose the same risk? We are thinking about trading in the counter microwave for a convection microwave above the stove since it can be used to cook and heat up food.
I will always remember a conversation my high school science teacher had with our class many years ago (I won’t say how many). He told us to never, ever stand directly in front of a microwave. His point was that we, as young people, were still developing and would soon be going on to have families. Most microwaves are set at waist level…right where our reproductive organs are. He was very concerned, and I believe rightly so, that we were jeopardizing our unborn children’s health by standing there while our food cooked. Since then I have never stood in front of a microwave while something cooked. I’ve been debating getting rid of ours for years. This has given me more to think about! Thank you!
I am so happy you wrote this post!! I am going to forward the RSS feed to my sisters who all think I’m nuts for not having a microwave. My Husband and I gave up ours when I was pregnant with our first baby and she is 6 1/2 now. We don’t miss it one bit! Food re-hears quickly by stove top and toaster oven. I feel my family’s health over all is more important than the convenience. Thank you so much for putting this information out so others can learn more!
I love Ann and Jenn’s ideas! I never thought of storage! We haven’t used a microwave in 8 or 9 years. My husband built houses and never put them in. Then we bought a “fixer-upper” that has a microwave. We don’t use it or turn it on. I guess I could use it for storage too! Though I think I should put my cast iron skillets in it since it is pretty high and I’m short! LOL I can see them falling on me! I do hope everyone “shares” this to help get the word out.
I vote sell that baby on craigslist! 🙂
I find myself using my microwave for reheating my coffee since I don’t get to sit down and enjoy it. Maybe I’ll get a french press cozy to keep the coffee hot through the morning.
Emily, read my response to Joy above! 🙂
we havent had a microwave in years..we only used it for defrosting, reheating and popcorn so when itdied, we decided not to replace it. i have to admit, I miss it in summer when it’s hotter than hades in here, but i get by
Anyone have any recommendations for husbands who take lunch to work? I always pack a hot lunch for my husband to take to work and he really doesn’t have time to wait on a toaster oven to heat up his food. Any thoughts?
Well yeah! They didn’t have microwaves once, and we’ve survived so far! We have a microwave in my family, but it’s a junky old thing, and I refuse to use it… it’s mostly for my husband’s convenience when he’s up in the middle of the night (he’s a shift worker) and wants a quick snack.
I grew up without a microwave, and really don’t find it much inconvenience not to have it. I do wish I had a toaster oven, and that will be an investment I make soon. To be honest, I often eat left-overs cold… as I say, growing up without a microwave, I’m just used to it, it doesn’t usually bother me.
Also, the heating packs in the oven works great at a lower heat for longer, too – less chance of me forgetting and burning my rice/wheat!
I do so love my toaster oven. 🙂
We moved the microwave out of the kitchen into the storage room 2 years ago. Took a bit to adjust, but we don’t miss it at all. All we use it for is heat packs.
We use the oven, stove top and toaster oven for heating up things. We use glass to store things in so it’s pretty simple! 🙂
Great post, Kate! I should share this with my hubby. 😉 We do still own a microwave. It’s had to become one of those battles I’m not going to fight right now. I submit to my hubby, who still thinks we need one. I rarely use it, and he actually rarely uses it now, too–but I think he’s just not ready to get rid of it. We had some “intense fellowship” (as my pastor likes to call it!) about it about a year ago when I almost started crying when he wanted to heat up our baby’s food in it! I am the primary one who makes all the food anyway, and I use the stovetop, oven and toaster oven. I find thawing meat the hardest. Before my real food days, I was so accustomed to tossing it in the microwave to thaw….it does take more planning because even the hot water does take longer.
I really think one day he will come around and we will just use our toaster oven. He really has come so far in regards to real food and natural living….From thinking: “Who is this woman and what has she done with my wife?!” to actually bragging to other dads about how easy cloth diapers are, reading ingredient labels (and calling out his diabetic dad for consuming HFCS!) and being fully supportive of chiro care. (He’s even going to start going himself in May, when our chiro offers and intro. package discount!) I truly believe the microwave will become a non-issue one day if I leave it alone (literally and figuratively as far as nagging goes! Haha!).
Here’s a tip… if you freeze your meat in thinner portions, it WON’T take longer to thaw in hot water. It’ll be faster than the microwave. That’s how I do it. I cut chicken breasts in half width-wise so they’re half as thin and freeze them individually. I freeze pork chops individually and then bag them after they’re frozen, and I freeze ground beef in individual hamburgers, or just in a freezer bag arranged so the meat is only 1″ thick. All of these will thaw in 10-15 minutes in hot water. The only thing that still takes awhile is big roasts (which I often prefer to start cooking while they’re partly frozen anyway) and chicken that’s bone-in.
I actually have stopped using the microwave for this reason. The only issue is that to heat up things at work, I do actually have to use it but other than that, I try to use my toaster oven. It tastes better anyways!
when I met my husband 10 years ago, he was very anti-microwave for all of these reasons and so I only use the microwave for things like occasionally softening butter or a 30 second cheese burrito if I’m in a hurry. However…I do reheat my cold coffee several times daily, and I can’t figure out an easy solution for that. I only make one cup in the morning and one in the afternnon but it always gets cold before I drink it all. I’ve tried a small pan on the stove but getting it to the correct temp. is next to impossible. (now that summer is approaching I will switch to an afternoon iced coffe which helps) Any suggestions?
The only thing I could suggest as far as coffee is getting one of those small bullet-shaped thermoses and pouring your coffee into that when it’s done brewing. Just use the lid/cup and pour small amounts whenever you want a sip; the rest will stay hot in the thermos. 🙂 (Be sure to heat preheat the inside with hot water first, if it’s a stainless steel one though.)
Maybe try using a good thermal mug to put your coffee in. My sister in law does this and it is on my list of to do/get. I always end up reheating my tea. I hear the ones from Costco are good at keeping drinks hot for long periods.
Joy, have you tried using a Thermos? They will keep hot beverages hot for hours! “Preheat” the Thermos first by putting hot water in it before you put your coffee in it. A Thermos is a great investment especially when it’s cold and you are traveling and want a hot beverage!
Ditto! Put boiling water in the thermos to heat it up and it will keep anything hot for 4-6 hours. (Depends on type/size of thermos.) Husband often eats soup for lunch (that is still hot enough to burn his mouth at 1pm) and I put it in his thermos at 8am. I like the classic Stanley brand all steel version. It’s good quality thermos that will last a lifetime. I bought mine at WalMart.
yes, I used to use one when I worked outside the home but now I just make one cup of very strong coffee so it doesn’t really make sense. I supose maybe using a covered travel mug would keep it warmer longer but I always seem to burn my mouth on those!
My mom has a mini electric cup warmer that she uses to keep her cup of coffee hot.
Giving up our microwave was something we did back in ’07, too, for the same reasons. Besides the odd effects and irradiation, it totally kiss your food! What’s the point of eating dead food? It just fills your belly, nothing more. I cringe when my friends use theirs, because I know how bad they are. I wish my parents would give up theirs. :/ I have 7 kids now, and if I can do without, anyone can. 🙂 It’s an adjustment at first, but really… who likes rubbery pizza anyway? Everything tastes better when it’s cooked properly IMO. 🙂
I just recently got rid of our microwave and have not missed it at all. I don’t have a toaster oven yet (still enjoying the newly available counter space!) but I keep my good ol’ George Foreman out and it’s great for heating meat (frozen & thawed). I’ve also reheated leftovers on it.
I am soooooo happy to read that I am not the only one without a microwave! It has been about 9 years since a microwave was in our kitchen, but we didn’t actually get rid of it until 2008. It lived in the garage and was used very sporadically. We were already storing leftovers in pyrex or glass, so the transition was easy. We have contemplated a toaster oven, but realize that for us it would just be another gadget to take up space.
We haven’t had a microwave for 7+ years and don’t miss it. I completely forget about it, in fact, but for the fact that others sometimes comment on it, especially babysitters. I usually opt for leaving a frozen pizza in this situation 🙂
We use the stove top and hot water, as above. I don’t use the oven to reheat much because our oven takes so long to heat. Though mostly I eat leftovers cold. Softening butter isn’t too bad if you roll it between wax paper or grate it or just cut it really finely–though it isn’t as easy to cream with sugar, etc. when softened this way because I’m not terribly patient.
I am so glad you did a post on this. I know that using the microwave is not ideal but I have been wanting to learn more about it. Tanks!
When my best friend from college went off to grad school, she didn’t have a microwave available where she was living. At the time, I just couldn’t fathom how you would cook anything without one! She kept saying how much better everything tasted.
Then, about 8 years ago, I started reading more about the dangers of them and thought we should stop using ours. I cut down my use dramatically, but still had “emergencies” when I would use it, such as defrosting meat.
Then we moved to an apartment without one and got a toaster oven instead. We haven’t looked back since! We use the toaster oven, oven, and stovetop. And my husband, who used to not like to eat leftovers, has no problem with them anymore!
If you’re on the fence, just get rid of it and you’ll soon find you don’t miss it at all!
My husband and I haven’t used a microwave in 4 years…and I don’t miss it at all. We use our oven and stove top to reheat everything. One thing we found is when you reheat lasagna and stuff like that, that tends to get dry when reheated in the oven try using a steamer…it keeps the food moist!
I remember a few years ago when we moved to a new house that didn’t have a built in microwave (yet). I called my mom and I asked her how in the world I was going to re-heat my leftovers! She laughed and said something like, “Yeah, cuz microwaves have always been around.”
We finally got rid of our microwave just over a year ago. First we put it in the basement in case we missed it. Then, it went on Freecycle. The only time I’ve missed it (but still wouldn’t want it) is when I need to defrost meat. I’m going to have to try the hot water method.
In my experience, the hot water method is SO much faster, and it also has the advantage of not cooking the meat on the outside accidentally! I cut my chicken breasts in half width-wise, so they’re thin before I individually freeze them for two reasons:
1) I can now thaw them completely in about 10 minutes in hot water,
2) I can now cook them stove top in about 10 minutes and have hot, juicy, delicious chicken. (With poultry, the faster you cook it, the more juicy it is.)
My microwave is also a convection oven – and that’s the way I use it. I very rarely use the microwave oven, but I use the convection oven ALL the time. It is so much easier to use the convection oven instead of the “real” oven – you don’t have to preheat and it doesn’t heat up the house (which is important when you live in south Florida!). I don’t have to adjust the cooking time either. What is your opinion of convection ovens??? (BTW, I do have a toaster oven and use that also to warm up food.)
We still have a microwave though I feel a bit embarassed about it since I do believe we’d be better off without it. We teach the kids to never stand in front of it and use it for reheating only or rice bags for our beds. No plastic used inside.
Our microwave started freaking out on us a few weeks ago (it would turn ON when we opened the door!) We unplugged it and haven’t used it since. I really don’t miss it at all, and we don’t plan on replacing it.
I seldom use my microwave except to heat water. I don’t like how food is after it’s been microwaved and I’ll eat cold pizza any day before I’ll microwave it, but I don’t believe its molecular structure has been changed, and no articles linking back to Mercola will ever convince me this is so.
I do think there is cause for concern of the radiation involved.
I would actually like to get rid of ours simply because I don’t like it, and want to use the spot it’s on for something else.
My issue is that *all* cooking alters the molecular structure of food. And, *all* cooking does this by breaking the weakest molecular bonds in the food using heat (usually the water molecules). The only difference is *how* that heat is made.
In the microwave, the heat is made using radiation which “shakes up” the molecules, creating the heat. On your stove or oven, the heat is usually made by fire or an electrical element, then gently transferred through the food (via conduction).
I think the radiation issue alone is enough reason to not use a microwave. I mean, really, we don’t need even more exposure to electromagnetic energy when we spend so much of our lives completely ungrounded.
That said, I always inwardly cringe when people complain microwaves alter the molecular structure of the food. Of course they do! They’re cooking it.
The only reason a microwave cooks unevenly is because in order to cook the inside of your food, the radiation has to pass by or “miss” all the water molecules in the outside of your food. Since that’s impossible, the outside gets warmer exponentially faster than the inside. With a microwave, the only way to warm the inside of the food is via conduction — the naturally occurring heat transfer that would happen after the outside of the food gets hot. Hence, hot and cool spots.
I find the uneven cooking *really* unappealing, but it doesn’t somehow prove that microwaves are evil.
If I were to make a case against microwaves, I’d have to argue against the extra radiation exposure. Then, I’d argue against them the same way that Sally Fallon argues against pressure cookers: have we ever cooked food this way? It’s a very non-gentle way to cook, and until very recently we humans have only ever had gentle, slow ways to cook (unless we wanted to throw something directly into a fire and watch it burn). And finally, I’d make the point that they’re annoying (what with all that uneven cooking creating odd textures and hot and cool spots).
We “hid” ours in basement storage so we could avoid using it while testing if we could live without it. Two years later it’s still sitting in the basement and we haven’t missed it once. Best kitchen decision ever. I encourage those who are “on the fence” to tuck it away for a month (if you leave it on the counter you WILL use it) and see if you miss it.
Several years ago I read that microwaves change the molecular structure of even water, and that you can take two identical plants, water one with cooled microwaved water and the other with non-microwaved water and the plant watered with microwaved water will die. I always wanted to do the experiment. My naturopath also told me to avoid microwaved food, even microwaved water. When you consider “the importance of water in our own bodies. As babies we are approximately 75 to 80% water and as we grow older this percentage decreases until the percentage is reduced to approximately 60 to 65% for men and 50 to 60% for women. The human brain is about 85% water and our bones are between 10 to 15% water. The chemical structure of water H2O and both the hydrogen and oxygen have great importance as life giving properties and a preserving force to our systems.” http://www.chemcraft.net/wbody.html So that is why I got rid of our microwave. I refuse to even use the one at work and would rather eat food cold or heat it at home and take it in a thermos. But my family thought I was nuts for getting rid of it. But they are used to the idea now. But I still cringe when people use one and so many resturants use them. Another good reason to take lunch to work!
We read that, and DID do the experiment. It’s false… at least with beans. The plants that had the microwaved water only did just as well as the others…sprouted, grew, etc.
So I don’t know if it’s still true but bean plants are tough, or what. ::shrugs:: We have a microwave, but we don’t use it for much more than leftovers, which is very uncommon in this house.
I can understand not having a microwave at home, since we moved ours into the garage and plan on putting it in our yard sale this summer, but what are you supposed to do when you have a full time job? I bring salads and sandwiches when I can, but some leftovers require heating and with no stove, oven, pots, etc. at work, any suggestions on how to heat up leftovers? We have two microwaves at work and those babies are always on around lunchtime. My coworkers eat a lot of frozen meals.
I pack my husbands’ lunch everyday and nine times out of ten, I’m packing something that needs to be kept cool, like salad or lunchmeat wrap-ups (we’re grain free), but every now and again I will send soup which I pack piping hot in a thermos or leftovers.
Is your company large enough that they might agree to purchase a toaster oven for employee use? If so, you’d be able to pack your leftovers in pyrex and reheat them at work just as you would at home.
I would love to get rid of our microwave. I don’t use it very often anymore (although I shamefully grew up eating microwavable pizzas nearly every night). I use it to heat up water, which I know is wrong. Our tea kettle broke and I need to buy a new one. I need to invest in pyrex leftover dishes. Right now we use the Ziploc ones and I take them to work and re-heat them in the microwave there. That’s my only problem, I hate cold leftovers and work only has a microwave. I guess I’ll have to experiment with taking more salads and soups to work. But yeah, I cringe every time I use the microwave, I know it isn’t healthy :(,
Caitlin, I feel your pain. I too heat up my leftovers in the microwave. We have a toaster oven at work, but sometimes you can’t heat up leftover stew or other dishes in the toaster oven. We have two microwaves at work. I don’t have an answer for this. I can only eat salads and sandwiches for so long. The one thing I don’t think you should do is reheat your food in the plastic Ziploc containers. The food will leach all kinds of toxins from the plastic.
My husband asked his work if he could bring in a toaster oven to leave in the kitchen, and they said yes. Maybe it would be an option at your work too.
I send hot lunch to work with my husband by heating it ahead of time (soup, stew, even some casseroles) and putting it into a preheated wide-mouth Stanley vacuum bottle. (Preheat by putting hot water in the bottle, closing it until time to fill with the food, and then pour off the water, put in the food.) It’s still hot by lunch time. In fact, one day he didn’t have time to eat his lunch and the soup was still hot when he came home.
I recently moved from an apt. to a house that doesn’t have a microwave. This was the perfect opportunity to make the transition. As I sit and type this, my lunch of leftovers is reheating in the toaster oven!
I have a stack of small glass pyrex containers that fit perfectly into the toaster oven. They work nicely for a serving or two and are great for leftovers in the fridge.
I hope we never go back to the microwave… although, like the author, I really do miss my grain-filled heating pack!
It’s funny you should mention heating rice socks. 🙂 That is the one thing I really like my microwave for. I know you can heat them in the oven in foil, but it makes me nervous. I wouldn’t have a micro anyway, but my DH wants one at this time. Maybe when this one dies we can rethink it. I heat water on the stove, but I do reheat food in my micro. Thanks for the reminder to work on getting away from that. Now if I could only come up with a better option on the rice/flax socks!
I love your site, but don’t agree with this particular article. (Love that we can all have different opinions though! : ) Thanks for your awesome site… keep up the good work!
Some other thought on the subject:
“Do microwaves change the molecular structure and composition of food, by ejecting some electrons from atoms and forming cancer-causing free radicals?
“Microwaves don’t affect the molecular structure of the food, except through the thermal effects we associate with normal cooking (e.g., denaturing of proteins with heat and caramelizing of sugars). That’s because, like all electromagnetic waves, microwaves are emitted and absorbed as particles called “photons.” The energy in a microwave photon is so tiny that it can’t cause any chemical rearrangement in a molecule. Instead, it can only add a tiny amount of heat to a water molecule. During the microwave cooking process, microwave photons stream into the food and heat it up. But millions of them would have to work together in order to cause non-thermal chemical changes in the food molecules and they don’t normally do that. The photons can only work together if there is a conducting material, such as a metal wire, inside the oven. In that case, the photons can accelerate mobile electric charges along the conducting paths and create sparks. Such sparks can cause chemical damage, but nothing worse than the chemical damage caused by scorching food with a flame or broiler. Even if your microwave is full of sparks for some reason, the food would not be any worse for you than it would be if you cooked it over an open flame or barbecue.”
“Concerning the effects of Microwaves on Water, there is a good article at Snopes; their research was written to rebut a Rumor-Spreading Email about microwaving water. The Erroneous Email provided pictures of just two plants: one was given microwaved water and a second plant received regular water. Over the course of a week, the microwaved-water plant supposedly shriveled and died — according to the Erroneous Email.” Here is the link: http://www.snopes.com/science/microwave/plants.asp
Just my own take on it.
I admit, I still have my microwave oven sitting in our kitchen, but, I didn’t plan to have on in my new home. When we moved out of our old home, I tossed my microwave to the curb because I just preferred to cook on the stovetop or oven; the texture of food coming from the microwave has always been an issue for me…
As soon as we were unloading our kitchen gadgets, my husband surprised me with a new microwave and I said “honey, you really shouldn’t have”. lol He just couldn’t imagine why we didn’t need one…
But, I can count in one hand how many times we’ve used it since living in this home for almost 8 1/2 years now…so, I think I’m going to discuss with my husband the idea of putting this out as a donation for pick-up. It’ll give me more countertop space also!!
Our girls are 14 and 10. All of the cooking we do together requires our stovetop or oven; never do we use the microwave….and when we pop popcorn, we either use the air popper or the fun, old fashioned stovetop hand crank popper.
Thanks for the post, it’s eye-opening.
We haven’t used our microwave in a couple of years…but it took my husband awhile to get used to it. He fought against it especially while at work. Ever since we bought him a small toaster oven to keep at work it has worked out great! A crock pot would work too!
I stopped using mine about 2 years ago and really don’t miss it either. I store pans in it now! 🙂
Seriously thinking of ditching my microwave…even though I just bought a new one ; ( I can replace it with my toaster oven that lives in my cabinet…then I will have more room on the counter top and in the cabinet! Win win right?
I have a rice cooker which can rehead casserole type food really easy with a bit of water added to it and it won’t burn either… it just keeps food warm. I also use it when I’ve forgotten to defrost something as long as it fits. Just another possibility. We use ours for rice, of course, oatmeal, casseroles when I don’t want the oven on in the summer and forgot to do a crockpot meal… I use it for everything because I use to burn food all the time. I have ADD when cooking 🙂
I avoid using the microwave at all cost. It just zaps all the nutrients out of food. I would always read up on information about breast milk saying not to microwave it because it destroys it. I would think that the microwave would do that to everything that goes in it.
For those of you with toaster ovens….HOW MANY are in your family? We are a family of 8. I like the idea of getting away from the microwave, as we don’t use too much.
WHAT brand of tea kettle do you ladies recommend? I need to replace ours & want to get a good quality one.
An option to heating up leftovers, could be a Sun Oven. I don’t have a lot of experience with using it for leftovers (yet), it can be used for baking, heating up water & other things (right now, I’m using mine to melt beeswax)
Married for nearly 21 years, had a microwave for only one of them (and rarely used it, because I didn’t want it in the first place)…and don’t miss it at all. I defrost meat in the fridge. If it’s scramble-fried meat I am making for something, I can do that from frozen…just plunk it in the pot and set it on a med-low heat and stif often…works just fine! 🙂
A rice cooker would be beneficial for warming up food and it doesn’t burn it if unsupervised 🙂 A little thing called a hot shot heats up water to boiling within seconds. There are gadgets if you like them that make reheating/hot water easier without fear of radiation.
Don’t forget a grill! We use our grill year round. It will heat up food as well as cook it. In the summer I often ‘bake’ casseroles in the grill rather than use my oven. This keeps the house from getting even more heated. I also use appliances such as roasters, bread machines, crock pots, and toaster ovens OUTSIDE in a safe place away from small children and animals as this also helps to keep the house from heating up in summer! We do not have central air and it can get unbearably hot here in central Ohio as our humidity levels are horrible most of the time.
I gave the micorwave up for Lent this year. I really want to stop using it and I thought that’d be a good way to see if I could. It’s not easy but clearly doable. I’ve use the little burner for keeping you tea cup warm to reheat small amounts of leftovers for lunch.
I read a great article on microwaves that sealed the deal for me… See below….
My parents got rid of our microwave for these reasons when I was about ten years old. All my friends thought our family was crazy, and I too wondered “How will we survive!?” Come to find out, it was easy. Really, really easy to find other ways to cook food. We also stopped buying a lot of the convenience foods that are designed for a microwave anyway. When I got married, my new husband was a little weary of living without a microwave but I was insistent. (Besides, we lived in less than 600 sq. feet at the time, and we literally did not have the counter space in our kitchen, so that was in my favor) He adjusted in no time to living without a microwave and in our five years of marriage he has never even considered buying one.
So I’ve wanted to get rid of our microwave for a few years now but one thing always stops me….what temp do you set your oven at when you just want to warm something up? And how long do you leave it in there? I just never found out the answers to those questions and so I’ve never given my microwave up, but I’d still really like to. I’ve been heating soup on the stove for a long time now (why on earth would I use the microwave for that when the stovetop is so easy?).
Hi Leslie, I usually just put whatever I’m warming up in a cold oven (no preheating) and turn it to 350. By the time it beeps to indicate it’s preheated, the food is usually warm!
I find 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes is plenty of time for most items. Reheating a casserole or baked potato thoroughly takes longer, usually 20 – 30 minutes.
This is so interesting! Last week was the first time I’d really heard how bad your microwave was for you, and ironically enough mine broke last week! I told my husband we were at least going to try going without one, and it has been difficult. However, I think if I can just *remember* we don’t have one anymore it won’t be too bad!
Two out of our three microwaves don’t work. (Why we have 3 microwaves is a long story. We won’t go there.) The one that does work and is the oldest is down in the basement so I don’t go down there. Even before two out of three microwaves died we’d already decided not to use them. We keep them because they are built in and the one has a convection oven so we will eventually have that one fixed…just not use the microwave part. Our kids come over and try to reheat a plate in the broken microwave. They eventually go downstairs and reheat. I always offer to warm it up in the oven for them, but they look at me like I’d grown another head. One of our daughters (out of 6) stopped using her microwave in about 2006. Smart girl!
I’ve discovered a very quick way to defrost a package of frozen ground meet by putting it in my 7qt. crock pot with hot water. Put the lid on (essential) and turn it over after about 10-15 min. for more even exposure to the hot water. I don’t recommend using boiling water. It will cook the ground beef even if it’s frozen going in (voice of experience here). You can, however, spill out some of the water and replace it with more hot water when you’re ready to flip it. Should only take 20 – 30 min and the meat is completely thawed and ready to cook. I think it’s quicker than doing this in the sink because the crock pot holds the heat better than my sink.
We moved to our current home almost 2 yrs ago and I never bought a microwave. We have a small kitchen and I didn’t want to use up counter space. Never missed it! After all, I grew up in South America and 20 yrs ago it was a luxury my parents wouldn’t have dreamed of. Never needed it then, don’t need it now. I wonder how many things I still have that I could do without….
I completely agree. We finally stopped using one about 6 weeks ago. My hubby didn’t think it could be done, so we still have it. If our house sells this year, I plan to include it so it doesn’t come with us. 🙂 Has anyone mentioned a tea kettle? I bought a glass one from Amazon when we made the switch. I love it for those times I need boiling water (such as dissolving sugar for lemonade)!!
I haven’t owned a microwave for over 3 years. I don’t miss it except for when I want to melt butter for baking. On the stove am concerned about it burning and always lose a little bit in the pan. Let me know if you have a tip for that!
Hi Catherine, if you are preheating your oven and can melt your butter first, put the butter in a glass bowl and stick it in the oven for a few minutes. Remove, and continue with the recipe as usual. 🙂 I also sometimes put butter on my stove top (best to do it in a bowl in case you forget about it and it melts too much) while I’m cooking to soften it. Or I just tend to leave butter out all the time, especially if I am going to be baking soon.
We gave up our microwave about 2 years ago. Instead of using the microwave bean bags for heat packs, I have a little cloth bag that closes ( a zipper closure is most ideal), I just throw rice in my dry cast iron frying pan and toss it around for a minute or two (it doesn’t take long) then dump the hot rice back into the cloth bag and voila…heat pack
“This process is basically radiation, where molecules gain or lose an electron through ionization. It doesn’t sound like that big a deal, but it actually changes the molecular structure of the food.”
This statement is false. Microwaves are NON-IONIZING and DO NOT change molecular structures. They just basically VIBRATE the molecules to induce HEAT.
I am not trying to be mean, but be careful what you write and read because it is not always true.
I would love to get rid of ours. We just moved in January and our new house did not have one and I was happy to keep it that way but my mother in law lives with us and she wanted one. I try to limit it how much it gets used…. especially for my kiddos.
Hmmm…I’m not usually a fan of food reheated in the microwave but as a scientist and engineer I’m confident a microwave does not ‘ionize’ food in any way shape or form. The waves are rotated to capitalize on the polarity of the molecules (particularly water) and cause the molecules themselves to move, generating kinetic energy which manifests itself as heat.
Well put! Yes, I’m an engineer as well and what is said about microwaves and how they are so terrible doesn’t make any sense. Heating food in general causes changes – like in the oven as cooked food is different than raw food! – but it isn’t specific to the microwave. The mechanism of heatin gis different, but doesn’t alter the food in some mysterious way.
Just to add… microwaves fall between radio waves and infrared radiation (aka heat) in the electromagnetic spectrum… their waves are WAY longer than visible light! I wouldn’t worry about them in contact with your food.
(radio… microwave… infrared… visible light… ultraviolet… x-ray… gamma…)
Hester (BSc Physics)
I’m not a scientist or an engineer, so I’m curious about your opinion on this article: http://www.herbalhealer.com/microwave.html
I am an engineer, the link in question contains this line.
“In simpler terms, a microwave oven decays and changes the molecular structure of the food by the process of radiation.”
Everything about this claim is just wrong.
1. Microwave ovens do not decay. Elements with unstable nuclei (typically those with more than 83 neutrons, though there are exceptions) decay ie are “radioactive”. Think Radium, Plutonium, Uranium, etc, but not microwave ovens. A microwave oven is doing nothing more than a lightbulb, it is emitting an electromagnetic wave which carries energy (albeit invisible unlike the lightbulb) and transfers that energy into the molecules (typically H20) causing them to move, causing friction, which generates heat that is transfered to the particles that make up the food.
2. Microwave ovens can change the molecular structure of food….just like every other source of heat in the world. Cooking in general is based on breaking and making chemical bonds, this is not unique to microwave ovens.
3. Not all “radiation” is created equal. Infared heat lamps keep food warm at most if not all fast food joints in the world…by radiation. Radiation is all around us all the time, but what matters is its energy level, ie its wavelength.
Radiation does not become a problem until the ultraviolet, x-ray, and gamma ray wavelengths. These are on the opposite side of the spectrum from microwaves.
So, in short, that link is completely bogus. Sorry.
I love my microwave popcorn! I have not done the stove top method in a d mecad e and some. Maybe I’ll just invest in a popcorn maker…
Try using a Stir Crazy. It can be used with a small amount of oil and cooks up nice and fluffy. You can add butter to to top if you want which melts and drips down on the popcorn as it pops. Flip it over, and the lid becomes a bowl. Easy to wipe the base clean and just wash the lid/bowl in soapy water.
Don’t you get into teflon and bpa issues with a Stir Crazy? Or is this a different one than what I’m thinking of?
We pop all of our popcorn on the stove. I use my smallest stock pot and lid. Put in a little bit of coconut oil and a couple of kernels. Heat over medium high heat until the kernels pop, then dump in the rest of the popcorn kernels. Keep that lid on and shake it or swirl it gently from time to time to be sure nothing is sticking and the unpopped kernels fall back to the bottom where they can heat up and pop. Use popcorn salt and it will stick to the popcorn without having to use a bunch of butter on it.
When I dump out the popcorn, I take the pot to the sink and get water in it right away. A little swish with some dish soap and my big brush and it’s clean and ready to go. Much better than the yuck that is on microwave popcorn or a nice coating of teflon.
From my understanding the radiation in Microwaves a is not the radiation you may associate with nuclear power plants or atomic bombs. This radiation is just radio waves. As you know radio waves are everywhere. You are being continuously being exposed to radio waves. Yes, their energy is much less than the energy in the Microwave Oven. The frequency of the microwaves is higher than the frequency radio waves. No ionization takes place if food in the Microwave. The microwaves in Microwave Ovens are tuned to the water molecule. The water molecules move faster as they absorb the microwaves and thus heats the food. All food contains water. Plastics and china are not heated by the microwaves because they do not contain any water molecules. Foods are heated in the microwave simply by the water molecules being heated by the microwaves – not ionization.
In the past, I pulled MANY dishes, both plastic and glass, out of the microwave that were very hot.
I have also had plenty of dishes come out of the microwave very hot, and plastic melts in the microwave. So, yes, the microwave DOES act on them. Also it is not “radio waves,” it is a distinctly different type of waves called microwaves…hence the name of the device.
Even if there is question about what microwaves may do to the food, I still think it’s wise, personally, to err on the side of caution and avoid use.
Hi John. I appreciate your trying to share information as you understand it. But I have seen plastic melt in the microwave, wet and not. And, I have taken things out of the microwave oven when the container was hot, but the food was not.
I have actually used the microwave to heat stoneware plates that don’t have any food on them, so that when we eat, our food doesn’t cool down so quickly. The reason I can heat plastic and glass and stoneware in the microwave even though they don’t contain water obviously is that there is a small amount of water vapor in the air we breathe all around us. The microwaves heat up the water vapor, and the water vapor molecules bump into the molecules in the empty plate or container and thereby heat it up. Microwaves ARE a higher frequency than radio waves, but they are a lower frequency than visible light – see my other comment for a link to the electromagnetic spectrum. And as I said there, yes, it can change the molecular structure of some foods, but it won’t make harmful per se – just less nutritious. A microwaved dinner is still healthier than a large bowl of greasy cheez whiz.
I will definitely talk this over with my husband. I did read the research article linked to at the end of the post. Gee, when you are getting ready to have a little one, you think about a lot more safety things than you did before you got married. Our housemate has been against microwave usage for a while now. I finally understand her reasons! Granted, we don’t use a microwave for everything, but still. Thanks for sharing this information.
We got rid of our microwave about three years ago and I haven’t ever missed it. I rarely used it in the first place because I don’t like the way microwaved food tastes. My main reason for getting rid of it had nothing to do with how it works, but instead with the kinds of foods that are cooked in it. There are absolutely no healthy whole foods that can *only* be cooked in a microwave, but plenty of incredibly unhealthy processed foods that fit that description. By getting rid of the microwave altogether there is no question of these foods coming into the house since there would be no way to cook them.
I reheat leftovers on the stove or in the toaster oven. It only takes a few extra minutes and the food tastes so much better.
While I haven’t completely made the break from the microwave I have drastically cut back on the use of it. I haven’t yet had the time to do the research you have done, but I became concerned and so have tried to reduce the use. The two most prevalent reasons I had for using it were cooking vegetables and defrosting. I now steam most of my veggies, it really does not take that much longer and they taste so much better. I also defrost now in a bowl of room temperature water. It takes a bit longer than the microwave, but the results are again more satisfying – no “cooked” spots while others are still frozen.
My husband does use it to reheat his coffee – I don’t know if I can break him of that.
When I began to cut out microwave use in my home, it got to the point where the only thing I was using it for was reheating coffee too. I purchased a Coleman stainless steel percolator, which I use on my stove top to make coffee. Once the coffee is done, I turn the burner to low and it keeps the coffee hot. I LOVE my percolator, and would never go back to a drip machine. It never kept coffee hot, and I was concerned about hot water leeching chemicals out of the plastic parts, so the stainless steel percolator was the perfect solution. The best part is that the coffee tastes so much better! It does take a little longer than a drip machine, but it’s so worth it. It takes about 17 minutes from the start to a finished pot of yummy coffee.
Can you use the plates & bowls made by Corning in the toaster oven or in the regular oven? Sometimes we have leftovers on those. What about the Pyrex containers in the toaster oven or do you have to use the tray that comes with it?
Some things have printed on the bottom, “oven safe” or something like that. I would think that Pyrex and Corning would each be able to answer specifically about their own products if you ask them. Pyrex is generally known for being oven safe, so I would trust Pyrex in the oven and toaster oven. (Just don’t add cold water to a very hot,dry roasting pan, because the glass may shatter all over your roast.)
Anything that is safe in a regular oven should also work in the toaster oven. Just think of the toaster oven as a smaller version of a conventional oven, because that’s really what it is. The tray/s that come with the toaster oven are meant to be a convenience, not a must-use.
Hope that helps
We use the toaster over quite a bit. The tray that came with it was aluminum, so we got rid of it & use the small, stoneware bar pan from pampered chef. It fits perfectly & works great. We also use our pyrex & other oven safe glassware. It’s still an oven, just smaller, so any small iron/stone/glassware that is made for oven use works with the toaster oven, as well.
Yikes! I knew about the standing by the microwave thing but I never thought about the affect on the food.. other than taking nutrients out and changing the texture does it have a harmful affect on the food??
We’ve still got a microwave, but I barely use it other than for it’s timer – which works better than the one on my oven.
I did a post about it a while ago, with a few of my tips for reheating food without a microwave. http://www.cravingfresh.com/2011/09/ditching-microwave.html
We didn’t have a microwave for about 2 years. I absolutely hated just the amount of dishes used to heat up leftover food (we have a minimal number of everything, like pots and pans – well, except books, ugh – due to moving around a lot…) and the way that I tend to cook creates a lot of leftovers. I also really missed being able to use my rice-filled heating pads when I had a backache or cramps. And I end up with a cold cup of tea by 10 AM that I would not bother dirtying a pot and taking 5-10 minutes to reheat on the stove. So we ended up wasting food and time without the microwave. We got a tiny one a few weeks ago and only use it for reheating leftovers and an occasional frozen meal (that would otherwise take about an hour or more in the oven). I don’t use it for much and I still boil my water for tea in my old, beat-up kettle, but we probably use it around once or maybe twice a day now. I avoid being near it while it’s on (turn it on and walk away) especially because I’m pregnant. (That is not an invite for criticism from anyone, by the way!) I just want to share that because I was really proud of not having a microwave for these years and finally I just had to admit to myself how much I hated not having one. I grew up mostly without one until I was in my teens (my Mom was afraid of the radiation) and we got along okay. It’s just a good thing we got it before all of us kids became hungry teenagers, looking to eat up all of the leftovers quickly. That’s my microwave story, hope it helps if anyone is considering just throwing out their microwave. Oh, one last thing, my microwave has different settings (like low, medium, high) with different outputs, so I use the lowest possible setting most of the time (although it takes longer) to minimize the exposure as well as heat through the food more thoroughly (less hot and cold spots). HTH!! 🙂
Also, I avoid using plastic anything in the microwave. (even “microwave safe”) … I use glass storage containers (they do have plastic lids, that do not go in the microwave) and regular ceramic/stoneware dishes/mugs. 🙂
Thank you for this post! At last some people are realising how dangerous microwaves are. As with many things there is a big lobby who doesn’t want us to know. This information could also possibly change people’s minds about using microwaves.
I’ve been taking qigong classes for over 5 years now. My teacher has explained many times that by using microwaves the food loses about 60-90% of its qi (=Life energy). Food without qi causes fatigue and because of this the body is not able to even absorb vitamins, enzymes, minerals, etc. It’s even worse when using frozen food. Through freezing food (also other highly processed food) also 60-90% of qi is lost. Put frozen food in a microwave and you’re not left with much qi at all.
Could you elaborate as to why you feel frozen food is so bad?
What evidence do you have to support this claim? Qi is a well known pseudoscience. It has never been measured and amounts to something like a “magic cloud” when defined.
Hi there –
Just as an FYI, I wanted to give some comfort to those who are concerned about the safety of using microwave ovens.
It is certainly true that microwaving food does sometimes change the molecular structure of the food (that’s why its unwise to microwave breast milk – the proteins in breast milk are more delicate than other proteins – some things are destroyed molecularly in the microwave, and some are just fine). It is also true that microwaving food often produces inferior taste, texture, and uneven temperatures.
However, as far as safety goes, there really REALLY is nothing to worry about. I have a degree in chemistry and a minor in physics, and if you look up details about the electromagnetic spectrum (all the different kinds of radiation that exist – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_spectrum), you can see right away that microwaves have a lower frequency than visible light. The higher the frequency, the more dangerous the type of radiation to our body’s cell structure. Scary things like gamma rays have the highest frequencies, and non-scary things like radio waves have really low frequencies. None of us goes around trying to protect ourselves from visible light – we all think nothing of turning on a lamp in the evening so we can see well enough to knit. Microwaves have such a low frequency, and atoms are so SO small, that microwaves just go right through us like we’re not even there. The sun emits microwaves. And there are thousands of radio waves flying through the air that go right through us that we don’t even know about unless we happen to tune into one of them with a radio. Once you get HIGHER frequencies than visible light, then you get into the dangerous zone, with the ultraviolet rays giving us sunburns, and x-rays that should be used only with caution at the dentist and the doctor’s office, and gamma rays that are the result of nuclear fallout, or are only used for cancer treatments.
Studies can show all kinds of results depending on the assumptions of the people performing them, and because of the concern people have about their safety, microwaves are built to practically eliminate exposure to people, unless you press your nose up against the door while its cooking.
So, moral of the story is – your food might not taste good or be optimally nutritious if you use a microwave, using a microwave is not going to give you cancer.
thank you Stephenie,
Your post is very helpful!
I have never developed an appreciation for microwaving, even though most of my peers have had them since we were kids at home. When microwave popcorn first came out, I thought it tasted awful compared to making homemade. That popcorn cast a lot of doubt in my mind about the quality of microwaved foods. Maybe the popcorn has improved since then, but I still see no real advantages, other than potential convenience, and that is not enough motivation for me to want a microwave.
When I was a young adult who didn’t like to cook, the toaster oven got a lot of use, and it still does, only now I’ve learned how to cook real foods.
We haven’t had our microwave in the kitchen for several years….it’s in the basement kitchen, for the very rare ‘just in case.’ At one time I could cook a whole meal using the microwave. I finally decided that I don’t like the texture of food, and many times foods have been ruined by over-micowaving. We’ve discovered lots of ways to reheat meals on the stove top and in the oven….and it really doesn’t take long…just a little planning. The results are deeelish!
When we moved into our house, five years ago, we did not have the counter space for the microwave and the toaster oven and the toaster oven was much more loved. Micro was demoted to the top of the dryer in the laundry room. I thought every grown up had to have one in the house. When people came over it would be moved out of the way, until we just didn’t set it back out. Eventually, it was donated and we haven’t missed it since!
we haven’t used a microwave in almost 5 years as well. i still have our mostly as a clock in the kitchen and to warm my heated wrap for my back when i am pregnant. i am not tempted at all to use it for anything else because of all the reasons you already listed. i have found it really easy to live without one and i think food tastes better the old fashioned reheating ways…
my recent post: a little bit of real life (and my 37.5 week maternity pics!)
One of the methods I found for heating things up without the microwave that didn’t require me to dirty another pot is the power of steam. A double boiler or just a pot with a metal strainer and the item to be warmed inside the strainer is the setup. Get the water in the bottom pot to boil and let it sit for a little while. It warms up the contents of the plate or bowl beautifully.
We haven’t used a microwave in years, and I am happy about it. I don’t even think about it. Nearly everyone else thinks we are strange, but that’s okay. 🙂 I use my toaster oven and the stovetop for reheating items, and it is just fine. Good things are worth the wait. 🙂
We moved about 7 months ago to a new apartment. The landlord provided a microwave. It sits on the top shelf in our laundry room. We also have our own toaster oven, and it sits up there in the laundry room too. We just warm things with the oven or stove because the toaster oven was taking up too much room in our kitchen. We’ve been microwave-less for a little over a year now, and we’ve never once wished we had it. Food tastes so much better reheated on the stove top or in the oven!
We are without MW since feb/2011…..before that also we didn’t had it for almost 3 yrs. but this time it’s gone for ever…..well I grew up in a house without MW so it all seemed possible….stove top & toaster oven do all my jobs….I do miss it while baking for heating/melting small amounts of chocolate but that’s about it….blogged about our life without MW here in this post….
My microwave serves 3 main purposes. It holds up my shamrock plant. It is my kitchen timer and clock, and it is used to melt cheese on nachos. I can move the plant, buy a clock, and melt cheese in a double boiler, though it would be healthier to give up the nachos altogether. I like what one commenter said and may replace my m’wave with a nice excaliber dehydrator. 🙂
We recently lived a few months in Italy very happily without the microwave. I’d be happy to see it go, but I think my husband would object. Growing up, my family didn’t have one until I was around 14 years old, so I suppose I just got used to living without it. Plus, I really love a simple low-tech life.
I enjoyed the post and the comments on this. I appreciate the civility of all involved,too.
We have been without a microwave for almost 5 years. This is due to, mostly, space constraints, and generally we have not missed it. I do like to heat things quickly somtimes and have found that using my colander over a small amount of boiling water with a lid on it does wonders. I place an oven proof bowl in the colander because it can tolerate the heat. It’s like a micro steam table and since steam gets hotter than boiling water it heats up the food pretty quickly, without crisping things like mashed potatoes.
It is impossible that in the physical world we currently occupy that microwaves can in any way, shape, or form ionize our food.
Please, please, please everyone do your homework before swallowing this hook.
*Disclaimer, I do not own, nor endorse using microwaves. But this kind of pseudo- science and the amount of re-posting from blog to blog to blog is just sad. Unfortunatly I think this tall tale can be traced back to Dr. Mercola’s site.
I haven’t had a microwave in 10 years, more for the ruined flavor and texture and because I like my kitchen without a clutter of appliances. But to save energy and time I use a water kettle to heat the water before I start cooking rice/pasta on the stovetop. The kettle also allows me to make coffee quickly in a french press pot, so I don’t need any filters either (saving a little time, money and environment in one go).
A regular bread toaster will also do for defrosting slices of bread quickly too, but mostly its just about taking things out of the freezer in time. What I also do is to freeze the foods in flat packs and portion sized to begin with, they will defrost much faster and I can easily cook for one when I want to.
I never really had a habit of reheating food, I eat it when I cook it, what is left over is turned into something else the next day. Besides, the more time spent heating foods the more the vitamins have time to break down.
Microwaves are a form of NON-ionizing radiation, in the same class as radio waves and visible light.
I have an aversion to microwave ovens and all types of unusual radiation.I would like to be a member of an organization that advocates against the use of microwave ovens and being subject to unusual radiation.Does such an organization exsist? Would you know of any people interested in starting such an organization?
If researching the necessary science gives you a headache, then you probably shouldn’t be reporting on the subject. That leads to ill-informed fallacies and misconceptions. Understand that microwave radiation (oo scary word!) is LESS energetic than visible light. And if visible light isn’t ionizing your food, then neither is your microwave appliance. There is a difference between excitation and ionization, the latter being the stripping of electrons from host atoms. Think of your microwave as simply vibrating the water in your food to heat it up.
Our microwave just stopped working this weekend. I had tried to convince the family to get rid of it earlier this year with no persuasion. So God moved! Beware to not preheat the oven to reheat food, our loss of a plate and a lesson learned.
We tossed our microwave out about three years ago, and I don’t miss it at all. We got rid of it because we wanted to distance ourselves from convenience foods, like frozen meals and packaged foods full of preservatives. We hoped by not having a microwave, we would be more likely to eat whole foods and cook from scratch. It really did help!
I enjoyed the article and agree with all of your comments. I think you should visit the website listed above and learn about the Macrowave. It’s really a great product. It’s been featured on the DIY network “the best of KBIS (kitchen and bath show) 2012, as well as “I Want That”. You should check it out.
Kate, I appreciate your post on microwaves. My family also wants to get rid of ours, because (1) we heard that it wasn’t healthy and (2) I like the aesthetic of a clean “natural” kitchen. However, I’m skeptical by nature and I ‘m always curious when everybody says something is bad without a ton of proof for it. So I wanted to see if this fear and panic over microwave ovens was justified before deep- sixing ours in the name of health. In terms of danger, I think there is no real evidence that microwave ovens do anything harmful to food while heating up as another person posted previously, but when cooking or running at low to high power, microwave ovens emit EMF radiation which is considered harmful. It is suspected that EMF pollution may nurture or grow many types of microbes that make human infections and diseases more difficult to cure. So in order to test how much EMF my microwave oven produced, I bought a good Gauss meter and I measured the EMF when the microwave was turned off, and it was completely safe, no measurable EMF produced. However, when I turned the microwave on “high” for 45 seconds and placed the Gauss meter on top of the oven, the needle (as they say) was way off the charts in measuring EMF. But, and this is a big point, when I moved the Gauss meter 2 inches away from the microwave oven, the measurement was half as strong as when on top of it, and when I further moved just 5 inches away from the oven, the Gauss meter measured nearly zero EMF. So my conclusions are that most microwave ovens (ours is 8 years old) are very well insulated from EMF pollution and so the hype over EMF pollution that Dr. Mercola and others warn against is just not evidenced or apparent in terms of modern microwave ovens. Frankly, there is way more measurable EMF pollution when you talk on your cell phone. My Gauss meter showed that when speaking on an iPhone the EMF was equal to that of a microwave oven on ‘high” with a Gauss meter sitting on top of the oven. A safe distance for EMF pollution when speaking on an iPhone is about 8-10 inches away from your body. And a headset doesn’t dissipate the EMF much either. So getting rid of your cell phone is probably a safer health bet than dumping your microwave oven. That said, there is again a certain clean aesthetic that I like in a kitchen that doesn’t have a microwave oven, so if people get rid of their ovens for that reason, I find it a more honest and truthful reason. But to think you are protecting your family from dangerous EMF pollution by chucking your microwave oven is not verifiable and you and your readers should be aware of that fact. Thank you.
Your whole article is based on “ionisation” and the chemical structure of the food changing. Unfortunately you have the science completely incorrect. The microwave radiation is actually NON-ionising (meaning it doesn’t cause electrons to be lost or gained). The radiation merely affects the magnetic dipole of polar molecules (water for example) and doesn’t affect the structure in the slightest. This excitation of the molecules releases IR radiation (heat) and heats the food.
Microwave heating is actually safer and healthier than other methods, as it is sterlising (kills all bacteria in the food) and there is less chance of burning the food and ending up with free radicals than in other cooking methods.
If you are going to advise people on giving up a convenient and safe cooking method, you should at least base it on accurate science and not just big words.
I don’t know where you’re getting your information from, but as an electrical engineering student, I can tell you the science behind your argument is wrong. A microwave oven works by producing electromagnetic waves with a frequency of about 2.45 GHz. This electromagnetic wave interacts with polar molecules (mainly water) within the food. The polar molecules will rotate to attempt to align with the field, but since the the electromagnetic wave produces an alternating electric field, the atoms are continually “flipping” back an forth. In the process, these atoms collide with other molecules in the food to disperse energy which increase the temperature of the food. Yes, microwaves are technically radiation, but not the dangerous type that the average person would think of ( like the type emitted from nuclear reactions that cause radiation poising and cancer). Electromagnetic waves include radar waves, microwaves, infrared (thermal) waves, VISIBLE LIGHT, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays. The biological damage radiation causes is correlates the energy the wave carries (which is related to the frequency of the wave). This is because if it has enough energy, it knocks electrons out of the “orbit” of the atom which ionizing the atom causing to to react in undesirable ways in the body. Microwaves are NOT ionizing radiation (only x-rays and gamma rays are considered ionizing radiation) they actually carry less energy than visible light. Not to burst your bubble or anything but there is also a significant amount of electromagnetic radiation in conventional ovens too in the form of infrared (thermal) radiation which actually carry more energy than microwaves (though its still not considered ionizing radiation). Also, the safety measures in place to keep the microwaves from exiting the enclosure are there, not because of dangerous ionizing radiation, but because you may recall that our bodies are mostly water, so you probably wouldn’t enjoy being cooked along with your food. Also uneven heating of the food is not caused by ionization, but rather by wave interference in the microwave and by difference absorbent/thermal properties of the various part of food. Also real experts have found that even long term direct exposure to microwaves are not linked to cancer actually more carcinogens are produced by cooking with an oven; in general, more of the food’s nutrients are lost using an oven too. It’s true that food generally tastes worse in the oven because of the nature of the heating process, but it’s not any more dangerous for your health, and I advise you do a little more research before trying to scare people into throwing out their microwaves on the basis of false information.
Food does not taste worst when cooked in a conventional oven. It tastes worse when cooked in a microwave oven. Have you ever cooked something in the microwave and ate it and cooked the same thing in a conventional oven and ate it? The tastes are definitely not the same. Microwaved food doesn’t taste good. Plus I think microwaves are for lazy people and for those who like eating processed packaged foods instead of making their own so they know exactly what they are eating.
I don’t use my microwave to cook or reheat foods. I understand that it will destroy enzymes needed for digestion
We stopped using our microwave when we transitioned to whole foods and ditched the pre-packaged convenience foods. It simply became obsolete. I have never missed it.
Just a quick point: the reason why those argue over the science are wasting their time is because when it comes to unnatural, modern inventions that even just sound bad, people would rather take precaution; it’s all well and good that your educators haven’t yet widely proven microwaves as deadly, but there’s an instinctive intuitive reason why people would disclose the possible dangers and avoid it. Especially when as many have pointed out, it simply discourages taking a proactive approach to cooking and nutrition. It is of course no coincidence that just about everything massproduced to facilitate this passive consumerist over-consumption lifestyle is at odds with a wholesome, sustainable lifestyle. This is not an academic conference, it is life, which is short, and precious. No offence to the academics though. All the best to everyone with their investigations, but there is only so much investigation one needs to simply improve behaviour so as to avoid such items. In fact, doing so is a good way to snap out of the endless bad habits that modern living has sucked us into at the cost of our health, but to the benefit of the mass-producers, including the mass-producers of drugs and medicines.
Household microwave ovens have no place in society for personal or public wifi use anymore.
The mere interference with it is already dangerous to begin with, so wifi boards do not recommend
others to use 2,4 Gigahertz band anymore or if you still want to have it in use, you should NOT USE the lower and upper 3-4 wifi channels anymore as this causes serious health trouble!!!
It does still NOT KILL PEOPLE, though its dangerous to touch!!!
Also, please DO NOT MAKE USE of your household microwave oven in thinking it can destroy electronics.
It can also worse KILL PEOPLE if somebody finds it out you ILLEGALLY make use of such as personal electronics destroyer. If security people find it out, you are AT FAULT OF NATIONAL SECURITY ENDANGERMENT!!!
So do not make use of Wifi-WiGiG-Standard (this one uses another frequency, 60 Gigahertz, known to science to attenuate oxygen which can end people’s lives, can kill plant life, pet animals, your minors and elderly people, it should have NO PLACE there!!!).
4G is also recommended maximum for ALL WIND POWER REGIONS due to 5G prematurely deathsentencing people.
This should be placed as warning for all wind power countries and their active user regions,
especially wind turbine owner regions in your country.