Simple Ways to Help Detoxify Your Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home, but it can be a tsunami of disheartening toxins and carcinogens. With the new year upon us, it’s the perfect time to consider not only eating healthier, but also eliminating unhealthy substances from the kitchen and restocking it with safer, environmentally friendly options.
Ban Kitchen Plastics
Exposure to certain chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates found in some manufactured plastics has been linked to health problems including reproductive disorders and cancer. The risk of chemical migration into food increases when plastic is damaged or heated by microwaving or putting it in the dishwasher. The best solution? Replace plastic food storage containers with glass. And instead of using plastic wrap, try reusable food wraps like Bees Wrap and Abeego products (both available on Amazon).
Upgrade Cutting Boards
Anything that touches your food can be a source of contamination and foodborne illness, including cutting boards. For example, if you cut up raw chicken and then use the same cutting board to slice a tomato for your salad, you run a serious risk of cross-contamination with bacteria from the chicken being transferred to the tomato.
There are varied opinions regarding the best type of cutting board to use, be it nonporous glass, hardwood, bamboo or plastic. But most experts agree that the best way to avoid problems is to use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables, and to clean and disinfect cutting boards after every use by soaking in hot water and a little bleach. If your cutting board exhibits deep grooves from repeated use, it’s time to replace it as these grooves trap moisture and give bacteria the perfect place to proliferate.
Choose Safe Pots and Pans
Bottom line: Get rid of nonstick cookware that contains possible carcinogens, including perfluoroalkyl acid, which studies show can leach into food. Perfluoroalkyl acid is also found in take-away pizza boxes, food wraps and microwave popcorn bags. Uncoated aluminum cookware should also be avoided due to its possible risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases including dementia, autism and Parkinson’s Disease.
Stainless steel pans are a terrific alternative to a nonstick cooking surface and most chefs agree that stainless steel cooks foods better than nonstick surfaces. Another great alternative to nonstick surfaces is cast iron. Extremely durable, cast iron can safely withstand high stovetop and oven temperatures and the more you use it, the more flavor you infuse into your food. Ceramic, enameled and glass cookware are generally safe options as well if they have been produced since lead and cadmium were phased out of cookware.
Go Green When You Clean
Hidden toxins lurk in many commercial products, and several of these may just be under your sink. We’re exposed to these toxins routinely from the phthalates in synthetic fragrances like dish soap and air fresheners to the noxious fumes in oven cleaners. Ingredients in common household products (like alkphenols, also known as APEs, in detergents and formaldehyde in household cleaners and disinfectants) have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity. It’s almost impossible to completely avoid exposure to all toxic chemicals, but it is possible to reduce it significantly.
Environment-friendly, natural products (like Seventh Generation, Ecover, Mrs. Meyers, and Biokleen) can be found at the supermarket or hardware store, but the best way to save money and your health is to make your own products. Using common items you may already have in your kitchen—lemon, white vinegar and baking soda—it’s easy to make some of the safest, most effective cleaning products.
While some of these suggestions might seem radical and even experts have differing opinions about the amount of toxins and chemicals it takes to cause any real harm, the truth is that toxic chemical compounds have no place in the food chain and they’re not healthy for you. With safer and more natural alternatives out there, why even take the risk?