The Microwave: Is it Hurting our Healthy Efforts?



The safety of cooking in a microwave has been a debate that’s gone on for as long as I can remember. Some claim there is absolutely no danger, as long as the seals are all intact, others claim that radiation leaks out and helps cause cancer (heck, the same waves come from our cell phones and our WiFi. We are screwed!)


This article –clickable– (a really depressing read, but worth checking out) discusses the suspected dangers of microwaves, and also states we may be zapping nutrients right out of food when we cook with microwaves. UGH. In fact, the article states we are ‘violently ripping the molecules in food apart, rendering some nutrients inert, at best, and carcinogenic at its worst’

Um, Yikes?


Where do you stand? I cringed while reading the article, and I admit–I looked at my little magical zapping oven and wondered for a moment if I was doing more harm than good by using it.


In those romantic homesteading daydreams I get, the ones where I’ve cut out as many gadgets as possible and live as simply as I can, I imagine warming up my leftovers on my woodstove. My imaginary woodstove that keeps our house warm with imaginary wood stacked out back. Much like Jenna Woginrich (hero of mine) describes in her latest book:

“If I have any leftovers from last night’s dinner, I don’t fuss with the stove in the kitchen. I just slide the crock of mac-n-cheese or leftover soup into the Bun Baker’s lower oven. Soon it’ll be warming up with the same energy source I knew so intimately back in June, when I was out there splitting that seasoned locust, sweat running out of my pores like out of a tap.”


Ahhhh, if only my imaginary woodstove were real. Someday, maybe.


But honestly. Even if I had my warm, dreamy woodstove right now, how hard would it be to give up my microwave? This family gave up their microwave and is not looking back. I give them kudos, definitely. Would I be able to? Okay, wrong question–of course I’d be able to. But would I want to take away that convenience?


I cook for 5 in our family, plus however many daycare children I have for the day (in the summer, this can be up to 7 extra kids). Breakfast, lunch, supper. The food for all these mouths, for the majority of meals, comes from one kitchen. One little kitchen with a half-broken stove, a few helpful gadgets, and a trusty microwave.


In my quest to prepare healthier food, the microwave really has fallen by the wayside quite a bit. We don’t really buy prepackaged microwave meals or snacks. However, I DO rely on our microwave to make eating healthy easier.



  • Steamed veggies, like broccoli? 2 minutes and splash of water in a bowl, compared to at least 10 minutes and a cup of water on the stove. Ok, so according to the scary article, I’m just ripping the nutrients in my broccoli apart, so there’s that…



  • Coffee cold? 30 seconds in the microwave. (I know I’m not the only one who gets busy and sometimes reheats coffee 3 or more times…)



  • Brown Bag Popcorn? Yes, please! We don’t want the nasty chemical stuff, but don’t always have time for stovetop.


  • Frozen harvest. Yes, I could think ahead and set out my frozen tomatoes the night before, but when I have a pot of chili that needs glut sauce right now, at the last minute, thawing the hard-as-a-rock-container in the microwave for a couple minutes is a huge help.


  • Breakfast. Oh my goodness, breakfast. Egg casserole made ahead and rewarmed, and plain old rolled oats with raisins are two things specifically. When we are rushed in the morning already, I wonder if we’d rely on crappy food if we didn’t have the microwave to help us make something more healthy, quickly.

  • Lunch. Same as breakfast…oh my goodness. So many lovely foods prepared ahead and frozen, easily rewarmed in the microwave. Soups do fine warmed up from the freezer in a pot, but little squares of casseroles or pastas just warm up so much better in the microwave!


I’m racking my brain, and I guess those really are the top reasons that would make giving up my microwave so difficult. To me, they are huge.


Am I just being whiny? Last fall our microwave broke, and we were so used to the ease and convenience of having one, those few days until we could buy a new one were like torture. So many more dirty dishes and pans, longer time spent cooking things on the stove. Leftovers dried out warmed in the oven. I’m sure, given enough time without, we would adjust. But I think I would fight it and complain every step of the way.


Do you still have a microwave, or have you done without? I’m so curious how many people have decided that it’s one modern convenience they just don’t need…or maybe are afraid to use.


 Originally posted at LittleBigHarvest
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