REAL Founder talks briefly about cookware – what she uses and why, and some of the concerns people have about metal toxicity.
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody I’m back, it’s Caryn Hartglass and it’s time for It’s All About Food on 11 – 12 – 13. I like saying that, 11/12/13, November 12, 2013, and I want to bring up what I’m going to call a section or part of the program, I’m not sure how many times I’ll be doing this in the future but I want to call it “First World Problems” and what do I mean by that? You know, we have a lot of choices and we have a lot of abundance and sometimes, a lot of what we have can really be confusing, can lead to a lot of stress because people feel like they need things and they need to decide what the best is and we have so many choices, it can be overwhelming and I call it “first world problems”.
Now I don’t want to sound flip about this. Some of it can be very serious, but just keep in mind, just as we were talking in the earlier part of this program, in this mystery and this web of life that we should just light and humorous, enjoy the adventure and be grateful for all of the things that we have. There’s always a way to turn any misfortune that you have around and look at it in a different light.
Okay, with that in mind, someone recently asked me about what I thought about cookware because in some of my recipes that I post on Responsible Eating and Living website, from time to time, I say use a cast iron pan or heavy skillet. Some people believe cast iron is not good to use and this one listener, who I like very much and she asks really great questions, wanted to know what I thought. Alright so, I think this is a “first world problem.” We have a lot of opportunities, we have a lot of different kinds of cookware out there, and how do we decide what it is, what’s the best for us? Now, maybe you’ve heard of this one brand that’s out there called the Salad Master and I have never used them but I seen them recommended and many people like them because the evidence shows , the limited amount of evidence shows that they are made of this 316, it stainless steel which likely leaches the least amount of metal into the food and so people like that. They’re very expensive, personally, I don’t know that I could afford them and they’re not offered in stores. They’re offered, I guess, I’m not even sure … Like Tupperware parties or people that sell them and if you have more information on this, you can certainly let me know, but I’m not that familiar with them, but I do know that they are expensive and they’re made of a very fine grade of metal. Okay, so if you are moved to and you can afford them that would be great, but I personally believe that most cookware that is out today; stainless steel and cast iron can be perfectly fine and this is my opinion. As far as I read in the research cast iron pans can leach iron into the food. Some of it is not absorbable or as absorbable as the iron we get in food and sometimes they recommend that it’s useful to young women, menstruating women who may need more iron, but the basic thing we need to know about cast iron and I have a cast iron pan that I use, is that it needs to be taken care of. What does that mean? It needs to be seasoned correctly so you can look online on how to season a cast iron pan, but it needs to have a light coat of oil on it that have been cooked into the pan and you don’t want to clean it with anything that will really scratch the surface and have pits and nicks and things and the same thing with stainless steel. Stainless steel has nickel in the underlining layers more so than what touches the food and it’s best to clean the stainless steel with materials that are not going to scratch the surface and wear down that metal so that you get to the interior and there were simple little things that you can do, not using scouring pads all the time that are very, very aggressive on the pans. Now aluminum is another thing and there are many people that believe that aluminum is not something that you want to cook in. There are… There’s research that suggest that aluminum is connected to Alzheimer’s disease. We had a doctor on the show recently, who talked about all the metals that we should be aware of and avoid in our life. The thing is, some of it’s hard because there are metals like copper and iron and zinc and we need little bits of them and the question is how do we find the balance between too much and too little and it can be really, really confusing. With aluminum … Then there’s a new type of cookware that’s made of anodized aluminum and they’re some that say you should avoid aluminum of all forms and others that will say that this type is safe and I don’t have any anodized aluminum pots, but that’s a choice that you need to make and be comfortable with.
I want to make some analogies here, back in the fifties or so, we had medical doctors that were recommending cigarettes smoking, they said it was healthy, it was relaxing and now we know, of course that cigarette smoking is not healthy and it’s quite detrimental. Then over time, when we developed good hygiene and cleaned up our water system and started to sterilize so many different things to a degree where people weren’t being exposed to enough bacteria in their life’s and now there are these theories that some people don’t have enough healthy bacteria and that’s link to so many different autoimmune diseases that are out there today because our guts don’t have all that the bacteria that they need whether from eating the wrong foods or just living a very sterile lifestyle. So were just discovering bacteria at one point we thought were detrimental, but now we’re learning that they may actually have some benefits. So over time, things change as we learn different things, and maybe at some point in the future, we’ll have more information about different types of cookware. It’s really hard though, to come up with a determination as to whether a certain type of cookware is dangerous or leaches too much toxins into your food. The research just isn’t there, so I just like to stay calm and buy some good quality stainless steel pots. I love my cast iron pans. The thing is, I don’t fry with it. Frying is not healthy in general and it’s not good to cook or fry food in a cast iron pan and also I wouldn’t cook my tomato sauce in a cast iron pan. Tomatoes are very acidic and that can actually encourage leaching of metals into your food. That I use my stainless pots for. So, there are little things that you can do to kind of minimize the leaching of metals into your food and again, I personally, I can be wrong, but I don’t think it’s that big of a problem. Now, I read some things where one medical doctor was recommending not using cast iron pans and then in the same book, he was talking about avoiding metals that you might consume through your tap water and the solution was to drink bottled water if you had a problem with your tap water. Now, that opens a whole new can of worms because bottled water, if you’re getting them in glass bottles, might be okay. Certainly getting bottled water in plastic bottles opens up all new problems about the toxicity from the plastic leaching into the water and then there’s the environmental problems linked to creating those bottles, plastic or glass and the water that’s used, tremendous amount of water to create those bottles that hold the water that we’ll be ultimately drinking, so much more water than the water that’s contained in the bottle. It’s just too many things to think about, right?
So I say, if you have the opportunity to buy whatever you want, go for it. Buy the best that you can. But I think for most of us, I think most of the cookware that’s available in stores today is fine if you take care of it. I would avoid aluminum, personally. We don’t have enough information about it, but enough about the research suggest it could be problematic, but that’s it. I have some bake ware that I had for a really long time and I think some of that actually might be aluminum and occasionally I might take it out and use it. I’m not going to worry about it. And this is an important point, whenever, I haven’t said this in awhile, but no matter what you eat, I always recommend eating whole and minimally processed organic plant foods, right? But no matter what it is you’re eating, when you’re eating don’t worry about it. Don’t think, “oh my God, this was made in such a such a can and I’m getting these toxins” or “this isn’t organic” or “this is something that’s full of things that I shouldn’t be eating, salt, sugar, fat”. When you’re eating that’s not the time to be thinking about what’s wrong with the food, that’s the time to be thinking “I’m grateful for what I have and my body is going to take in the good from this food and leave the rest behind”. I think that’s really powerful and can make a tremendous difference.
Okay, so that’s how I feel about it and if you have some comments or agree or disagree. I love to hear from you. You can leave me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s really a lot of information out there and we do have so many choices, I want to say if I could buy cookware if I had just an unlimited budget I’m particularly fond of the French Le Creuset, the enamel based cookware and reading about them, they don’t use any lead in their enamel and they say that they use cadmium only in the exterior part of their red colored pots and pans so if you were to worry about that, you would simply get the colors that wouldn’t need a little cadmium in them, but they said that it doesn’t get into the cooking because it’s on the exterior and not the interior. Anyway, I love those pots and pans, they’re beautiful and I think they hold up very well. I only have the fortune to have one and I use it from time to time with great joy. And I’m grateful to have what I have because I love to cook and like David Christopher just mentioned in the last part of the program, I like to cook with love. I think that kind a makes up for any of the problems that there might be out there.
But we can really get wrapped up in thinking that we need a lot of things, for example, I drink green juice every day, I’m looking at the little bit of green juice that I’ve been drinking all during this program, I have one everyday and I really believe that it’s important for me. But that doesn’t mean that everyone has to drink green juice and people are always asking me what kind of juicer do I use and what do I think of this and that. It’s a “first world problem.” We have a lot of different juicers options out there and juicers are not essential. You don’t need to have one. I kind of got on the juicing bandwagon because seven years ago, I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and I realized I needed to cram nutrients. I needed to consume as many dark, leafy green vegetables as I could to fortify my immune system and now that I am well, and I have been for along time, I want to stay that way, so I just continue to juice and I plan on doing it for the rest of my life. I think many people don’t need to do that, just that they should be mindful about what they’re putting in their mouth and consuming lots of dark leafy green vegetables. But you can get overwhelmed, thinking, “Oh my God,” I need to get a juicer and what kind do I get and there’s so many out there and some of them are really expensive and I can’t afford them and maybe I should get the least expensive, and there are twin gear and single gear and masticating and centrifugal and some of them you can read about destroy the cells and some of them are more like chewing teeth and better… and it really can be overwhelming. The point is just eat dark leafy green vegetables, relax, stay calm and don’t stress on what I consider “first world problems.” Just be grateful that we have so many choices, so many options and enjoy them. Well, what do you think of that? So, Here we are at the end of the program and I want to thank you very much for listening. I want to remind you that The Holy Universe by David Christopher is truly a worthwhile read and I hope you pick it up and read it. Let me know what you think. Okay, I’m Caryn Hartglass, this has been It’s All about Food and have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Marci Skinner, 11/21/2013