About ten years ago, a magazine sent me to cover a seminar on feng shui design and healing. I skeptically listened to the instructor talk about the placement of furniture, clutter removal and color choices to improve the lives of those with a serious illness.
We were talking about kitchens when he admonished the entire room, “and never use microwaves! They are so bad for you.” I asked why, but never really got an answer. When I got home I looked dubiously at my microwave. At the time I was beginning my foodie journey, learning how to cook while juggling a business and being a new Mom. Could “nuking” dinner occasionally be that bad?
The literature has been all over the place, and a review of the research says microwaves are safe. Foods containing vitamin C and B12 breaks down in microwaves, but they do when heated in other ways too. In fact, Harvard Medical School says nutrients are retained better via microwaving than other methods.
But there are other reasons to dislike microwave cooking.
Foodies and Microwaves
Foodies generally avoid the microwave because:
Food is mushy. Often the cooking process that happens in a microwave leaves food with a weird texture that is not as appetizing as other methods.
Food is beige. The wonderful sear that food attains when roasting, grilling or frying just doesn’t happen in a microwave. Meat is a weird grey/brown and veggies just go flat and pale.
Cooking times are maddening. If you’re using a microwave it’s for some sort of processed food and the directions are guessing at the power and sophistication of your microwave. If you under cook, you’re open to bad germs and if you over cook it tastes like cardboard.
Mushy, beige raw or cardboard-like food is a risk many foodies would rather not take. Plus part of the joy of being a foodie is the process of cooking and popping a hunk of food into a box and hitting the start button isn’t exactly artistry.
Greenies and Microwaves
Here the science is clear. Certain types of plastics in microwaves can break down and leach into food. Also, most prepared frozen meals are encased in plastic and green citizens avoid extra packaging whenever possible.
As for energy use, Scientific American found that heating a cup of water on an electric stove used 25 percent less energy than a microwave. The same cup of water on a gas stove used only slightly more energy than a microwave. However, for reheating leftovers the magazine found that microwaves could be as much as 80 percent more efficient than ovens.
How about you? Do you use a microwave all the time? Only to reheat food? Just for popcorn? Or do you think they are the best invention ever created for the kitchen. We’d like to hear your foodie microwave cooking stories.
Read More: Is Gourmet Popcorn Worth the Price?