Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Raising Kids Outside the Box: Microwave Ovens are Killing You

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You know, I hesitate to use such a bold, brutal statement as the title of this entry but I'm into living authentically and telling the truth. So, there you have it. I know, I know. You will say that everything is killing us. There are deadly radioactive waves around us all of the time. But please read further. This post is not just about the admission of deadly microwaves from that seemingly innocuous box in your kitchen. Oh no.
Microwaves are doing much more than just silently emitting waves.
The way I see it, you don't need me to rehash the same information that has been written and can easily be found on the internet. This article pops up several times when you Google microwave safety. And there are plenty 0f other bits of information like that such as that which I found here.
You can read those articles and they will both explain at great length how microwaves are killing our foods, removing all nutritional value from the already heavily processed foods that we stick in there. You will learn about the dangers of putting plastic into microwaves and not only stripping your foods of vitamins and minerals but also further ruining the food by adding extra toxins. You know... just for fun?
No, I'm not going to focus on that end of the issue. Instead, I'm going to tell you about my experience with giving up the box (not the tv... I've not gotten to that point in my "journey" yet- that was for you Rae).
Really, it was a very simple decision for me and my husband. We didn't hem haw around the issue. One day we simply said, "We aren't going to microwave anything anymore". And we never ever did. That was nearly three years ago. It was a pretty easy process for us. After all, we'd just learned that my mom had seven tumors on her brain. So we gave up cordless phones at the exact same time. And we've never regretted the decision. If I don't call you often, this is why! I never ONCE missed my microwave. Food tasted better. It forced me to be more proactive with my food planning and meals. Because I am super lazy, I started drinking smoothies and eating salads more often simply because those were a fast, easy alternative to the nuked pasta by Michelanglo's. But the best benefit that I've enjoyed as a non-microwaving mama? Knowing that I had made a wonderful start towards helping my children get off on the best possible foot in life.

Think about it. My kids already have so many disadvantages. From being genetically predisposed to cancer and heart disease to suffering DNA mutation effects as a result of all of that Diet Soda I drank when pregnant (at least with the boy-back before I was living authentically), they are pretty screwed. As an educated mother, I couldn't possibly continue to do something that I know is causing my kids to have a host of health problems.

What do I use instead of a microwave?

Well, I keep a tea kettle on the stove 100% of the time (it's gross and grimey but that's okay) and I use it to boil all water.
We eat a lot of raw.
I use a steamer and I must say that I'm in LOVE with that thing.
We have a toaster over for things like heating up frozen garlic naan from Trader Joe's (one of my early early pregnancy cravings.)
I often put left overs or precooked foods into a glass dish and stick it into the oven on warm. It really works. And think about all of the times that you heat something in the microwave and then just leave it sitting because it warmed up faster than you really needed it too.
I'm a great big fan of popping popcorn on the stove which is actually just as easy as microwave popcorn, a heck of a lot cheaper, tastes fantastic, and is, of course, healthier.
Eating RAW is pretty great too! (It bears repeating.)

Mamas, I'm not trying to jump down your throats. I'm really not. But come on. This one is pretty simple, right? It doesn't take that much work. It's not going to cost you a dime. And you will feel really great about yourself. Why not try just a week of no microwave? You can post your updates here in the comments section! Or even just one day! You can do it!

And remember what Oprah says when she's quoting her idol, Maya Angelou: "When you know better, you do better." And I have faith that you will!

Oh, and what should you do with the stupid thing once you are no longer using it? As you can see in the photo below, my microwave makes a fantastic cabinet for glass jars and plastic reused containers.


  1. Hey there Mandy, I commend you for being pro-active in trying to keep your kids safe. As a researcher in electromagnetics I have been studying polarizing effects of microwave and far-infrared radiation on such materials as human tissue. I have not personally done experiments on food, however I did want to point out that there are at least as many scientific studies showing no danger in microwaving food as there are web pages that claim there are. See for instance:

    most of the problems seem to be excessive heating of things that shouldn't be heated excessively anyway, like olive oil

    or plastic/polycarbonate

    By the way, the article you linked to quoted some paper which google scholar says:
    Your search - Comparative Study of Food Prepared Conventionally and in the Microwave Oven, published by Raum & Zelt in 1992, at 3(2): 43 - did not match any articles.

    Lastly, considering the vast number of researchers looking into this and other claims about cell phones/power lines, I find it odd that in all these years there has not been a verifiable, reproduceable study proving adverse health effects.

    My conclusion is that processed foods in general are far worse than re-heated left-overs.


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  3. Hey Nathan,
    Good to hear from you. You've been debating me for 16 years. Arguing is what you do best (why didn't you become a lawyer??). But seriously, there will always be scientific studies that support the opposite point of view, regardless of what side you are on. While I appreciate and value the scientific research you are doing, I find it a little hard to wrap my pregnant brain around all of that information. However, the idea of microwaves being dangerous or even just not so great makes good sense to me. I like to make decisions based upon my instincts as well as science. Hence why I'm a Christian and you are an atheist. One thing that is certain, NOT using a microwave will not hurt me or my children.

    And to all of my confused readers, remember that there are plenty of studies out there that "disprove" the dangers of plenty of environmental toxins... like smoking for example. Always make a point of finding out who is paying for the studies you are siting.
    Finally, I'm disturbed to imagine that the study sited in that very well-known article by Dr. Mercola is not actually a study (is that you were saying?). I will be looking into that further and getting back to you, readers.

  4. Hi Mandy! I think it’s great that you make these choices for your kids, but I find myself at a bit of a loss when it comes to my response. I agree with you a lot on trusting your instincts as a mom and going with what your gut tells you. I personally try to be as educated as possible about many of the decisions I make. I will delay vaccinations with my children, we try to use plastic as little as possible, we would never put plastic in the microwave and for the most part don’t even put it in the dishwasher, etc. I want to teach my children to make healthy decisions for themselves, to take care of their bodies, the things and people around them, the environment, etc. But I also truly want to teach my children not to live in fear.

    You are completely entitled to your own opinions and I certainly don’t judge you for that. But you know what? I drank diet soda while pregnant during my first pregnancy – and while it’s not a decision I would make again – as a christian, I would never, ever refer to Rosemary as being pre-disposed to genetic mutations. I will only refer to her as a child of God who has unlimited potential as one of His. And yes, we have heart disease in our family. However, I am not choosing to look at myself or my children as being disadvantaged or screwed. Rather, I consider it an advantage that we were given the foresight to make good decisions for our health and our hearts.

    I hope you don’t see it as criticizing you for your decisions and the way you choose to live your life. You are perfectly entitled to live it however you want. I use my microwave on occasion, I don’t use it a whole lot, and I mainly use it to reheat food. On the rare occasion (maybe once or twice a week) that I do use it, I do not fret that it is going to kill me. I choose not to do that. I believe that from the beginning of time there have been dangers out there for people, and the best thing you can do is make wise decisions about it. It is not possible to avoid everything that may or may not kill you. The bible says that Perfect Love casts out all fear and for me, I have chosen to accept that and do my best not to live in fear.

    So, while I appreciate the challenge, I’m not going to take it. Though I hope this comes across as written in love – I just wanted to share my take on the issue.

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  6. Kate,
    I suppose in a lot of ways I do "live in fear". I don't really see it that way. I just try to admit the truth and then act accordingly. Maybe I have pretty extreme views. Perhaps I'm a radical. But after everything I've seen and after all of the things I've been through, I feel that being a radical is my only choice. There are so many things that we cannot control. We can't control to whom we are related (I hate it for my children that they were born to a parent who is genetically predisposed to disease and likely early death). We can't control what our parents did to us when we were in the womb. But if there are things that we can control, like what we put in our bodies, I say, "Why not?" We certainly have nothing to lose. I was raised by parents who made their choices based upon what was most comfortable or easiest for them. I prefer to raise my children differently and I suppose that has translated into my being an extremist nazi who tells her children that eating foods with dye will make them die (see, it's a rhyme). As a child of God, I feel that it's my job to honor my body and to teach my children to honor their bodies. They can overcome the diseases to which they are genetically predisposed if they make good choices.

  7. Hey girl - I think your radical and I think your extreme, but that's why I love you! We don't agree on everything, but you definitely make me think and encouage me to be more authentic. I am going to at the very least cut down on my microwave and ease JD into quiting it altogether! I think it's liberating!!! lol

    I liked this "One thing that is certain, NOT using a microwave will not hurt me or my children." Good job of defending your position!

  8. Awwww, Thanks Amanda. I guess that's why we get along so well. You are pretty extreme and radical to a certain degree as well. Which is why I'm convinced that you are the answer to those prayers I've been saying for a couple of years now. What a relief to FINALLY be understood by someone who actually lives near by! Yay!!!

  9. Well, as my gorgeous wife made reference to, here is how I feel:
    If I don't ever use a microwave, I will never run the risk of it having a negative effect on my body. If you choose to use a microwave, you run the risk.
    Since using a microwave is a choice, not a necessity, it is something you can live without. Besides, if you commit to stop using it for a couple of weeks, you will never even miss it.

  10. There is nothing hotter than a husband who gets you. I can so clearly see what God had in mind when he set my sights on you almost ten years ago! You rock my world and I adore you, Sugar Pony.


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