The Microbes are After us

When we moved to Our Little House 3 years ago, I almost tossed the microwave. While I didn’t know of any specific dangers from cooking with radiation, I’ve somehow always inherently known that it must not be good for us.

Maybe it was one of the first experiences I had with a microwave. I was about 12, getting ready to head with a friend to the pool for a day of sunbathing (I know now, of course, that isn’t good for us either) and boy chasing (whether that is good for us depends on the boy).

As I recall, my friend had one of the first microwaves in our neighborhood and we proceeded to blow up our hot dogs all over the new oven. I remember we were a bit delayed after cleaning it up, but I also remember thinking that anything that could make a hot dog explode in under 2 minutes couldn’t be good.

And then there was the woman who continuously called the appliance service center at the department store where I worked as a teenager. The poor lady kept telling us she could see the “microbes” escaping her oven and she needed a service man out right away. We thought at the time she was just lonely – as she always had a fresh batch of cookies for him – and insisted he sit and visit with her while there.

But, maybe the little old lady wasn’t crazy or lonely as we thought…

When my aunt moved to the woods, she chucked her microwave immediately. I think there’s something about living in a natural environment that just doesn’t mesh with the thought of radiation. I didn’t go that far, mostly because on the rare occasion I don’t cook, Dale thinks he has to have it.

For my part, though, I’ve quit using it, opting instead to cook all of our food on the stove and heat my lunches in the toaster oven. Our microwave sits mostly unused and unplugged, taking up space on my limited counters and collecting dust.

My friend, Alicia, who owns the land where we gardened this year and is also my natural food hero, has never owned a microwave and does all of her cooking in cast iron cookware (also a goal of mine).

I was thoroughly disappointed last year when a certain food company quit making those boil in the bag frozen veggies, they now have to be steamed in the microwave. I resolved instead, to grow my own veggies or buy fresh organic veggies in season and freeze them myself.

No one puts Kerri in a corner and tells her the way she must cook her food!

While this article on the FDA website insists microwave cooking is safe, there’s studies that also indicate cooking with the microwave makes food lose most of its nutritional value. There’s also some indication that food cooked with radiation may harm the cells in our body and compromised cells are the cause of diseases such as cancer. Besides, the experts who claim microwaves are safe still advise against standing in front of one while it is cooking, something that’s hard to escape in a house as small as ours.

Even if I believed cooking with a microwave is good for us, cooking a container of Jiffy Pop on the stove or popping corn in the pot is much more fun than cooking it in those bags!

Have you thrown out your microwave oven? Why or why not?

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28 Responses

  1. debi says:

    Microwaves are used heavily in food service. I was a server for 30 years. Melting cheeses on platters, mexican food primarily. Any plate returned that is “cold” gets zapped. That pie ala mode has to be heated from a cold pie case. Worked with a cook that would zap omelettes to finish cooking….he was incapable of doing eggs without “lace”. If he zapped the eggs too long, they turn green…ugh.

    What about convection ovens for small space living? I don’t use my range/oven enough to justify the footrpint. I am contemplating an induction portable cooktop and counter convection

    • Kerri says:

      Once again, Debi, you’ve given me reason not to like microwaves. Anything that blows up a hot dog AND turns eggs green? Ick. 🙂 I don’t know about small convection ovens. I did get that toaster oven when we moved here and LOVE, LOVE it! I like it because it is so versatile and I don’t have to turn on the big oven.

  2. Becca says:

    Here is a tip to check that your microwaves seal is intact: Place one cellphone in the microwave (DO NOT turn on microwave obviously). Call the cell phone from another cell phone, and if it rings, replace your microwave immediately as this means the seal is not intact. There are a couple other methods listed on the Wikihow page:

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks for the tips, Becca. The seals are very important if you’re going to use one.

      • Susan says:

        I tried that yesterday when I band the microwave out to the garage….guess I can’t say mine is broke because it did not ring. But at least it has a good seal.

  3. olivia says:

    We have an old one that lives in the basement – occasionally used for thawing muffins or some such thing. DH has one he left at his mother’s house – she has never used one in her life. Maybe I’ll have him leave it there. All my pans are cast iron – all I have used for years. Still have my Mum’s stainless steel, copper bottom saucepans.
    Most of the year I cook on a wood cookstove and that’s about all I need. Summers – which are brief – I use regular stove. I’m not really phobic about microwaves – other things scare me more, but I just don’t really need one.

    • Kerri says:

      I don’t think microwave cooking is as prevalent in other countries, Olivia. I don’t remember seeing one in Germany.

  4. Susan says:

    My microwave broke a few years ago and I was very happy about it….then shortly after was my birthday and my oldest son bought me a new one.
    🙁 Was hard to be excited about it, I sure did not want to hurt his feelings. It is in the laundry room and gets used very seldom but think your post will just make me move it on out to the garage and use it like a step stool like Debbie does 🙂 . I have one girlfriend that does a lot of cooking in hers. I have only used mine for warming things up when it does get used.
    I wonder how much of our food is heated or cooked in microwaves in fast food places or in restuarants?
    Kerri I do a lot of cooking in my cast iron cookware and stainless steel. Do not own any Teflon pans. I love steaming my own veggies…think they taste the best.

    • Kerri says:

      You’re funny, Susan! 🙂 I never did cook in mine either, just warmed stuff. Although I did “cook” some frozen meals from time to time, especially when I was single. I think a lot of our meals are cooked in them though when we eat out.
      I have my eye on some cookware, just need to save for it. I don’t like the idea of Teflon anymore either.

      • Susan says:

        After writing my post I moved the microwave out to the garage. 🙂 Hubby has not noticed it yet 🙂 …sure did free up some room in the laundry room because I had it on a stand.

        • Kerri says:

          We should place bets to see how long it takes for him to say something! Mine has actually said we should get rid of ours because I never use it. Next time he mentions it, I will take him up on it! 🙂

          • Susan says:

            I finally pointed it out to him. He was fine with it, thank goodness….but then I do all the cooking so he really shouldn’t say anything about it all. Kerri when you do remove the microwave, you will have to post a picture of the nice bare counter space. 😉

  5. Frugal Kiwi says:

    Funny you should write about this. Our microwave is getting old and weary and I’ve been lobbying to replace it with a toaster oven- an unusual appliance here in NZ.

  6. Debbie says:

    I haven’t used a microwave for years and I have been able to live without it! Yes, friends and family think I’m strange but I say if there’s the least little bit of doubt, it’s not worth it to me. More and more I hear of people with cancer and something has to be the culprit. I’m sure it’s a combination of things but I can live without a microwave. I reheat on the stove like in the “old days” before microwaves, and I recently bought a toaster oven.

    I have owned a microwave in the past but when I moved several years ago, I threw it away. I had been using it for a step stool in the storage building! 🙂 Seems like to me that microwaved food doesn’t stay warm as long, and makes the food a little different.

    I sure enjoy your blog!

    • Kerri says:

      I agree with you, Debbie. Something has to be causing all of the cancer and I agree that it’s probably a combination of things. However, I don’t want to take the chance either. I never thought microwaved food to be the same either. Thanks for reading, glad you enjoy the blog!

  7. Kim says:

    Mine moved onto the back porch when we arrived here. I use it once or twice a month, mostly to defrost meat (against my conscience) when I’ve forgotten to plan ahead for dinner or melt something that needs to be melted pronto for a recipe. When it dies, it’s not getting replaced.

    I think a good toaster oven will quickly make a microwave oven nearly useless. Sure did for us!

    • kerri says:

      I LOVE my toaster oven, Kim. I never had one till I moved here. As for defrosting meat, that’s something I never used the microwave for. There’s always been something about that which just creeped me out. I usually remember to throw some meat on the counter each morning (perfectly ok if you don’t leave it out until it gets warm), but if I don’t, I will switch the menu to one of the meatless dishes I have planned for the week. There’s only one thing I’ve used the microwave for in the past 6 months – melting that cheaters baker chocolate to dip strawberries in. 🙂

  8. Heather says:

    Very thought provoking post, Kerri. I hadn’t given the side effects of microwaving much thought before. Now I will use it less and do some of my own research.

    Thank you.

  9. Alexandra says:

    I am getting phobic, too.

    About the microwave, I resisted owning one for years. Refused the requests of my kids. Then I separated from their father and moved out of the house. He promptly bought a microwave. I think my early warnings have remained in mind, but all three now own microwave ovens. I own one now for the B&B, but use it as seldom as possible and rarely to heat food.

  10. Kerri says:

    You’re welcome. I’m getting more and more “phobic” about my food – how it is raised, where it comes from, what is in it and how it is cooked. I wouldn’t eat the hamburgers I fixed this week because they didn’t come from the organic store. I don’t miss meat and would do away with it all together if it weren’t for Dale. Sigh.

    • AJ in AZ says:

      I agree with you that non-organic beef is too scary to eat. Too much evidence if the terrible things done to the bovine while in the feedlot. Have you ever tried buffalo? Antibiotics are NOT given routinely to them, even when raised non-organically.

      • kerri says:

        I’ve had a Buffalo burger once and it was pretty good. Leaner, if I remember right. This is something I should look into more. There is a Buffalo farm that’s local to us. Thanks for the suggestions, AJ!

  11. MarthaandMe says:

    I am trying ot get away from using mine. The only thing I ever use it for is defrosting and that is a hard habit to break because it requires advance planning to get food out ahead of time. I also want nothing to do with that irradiated beef you can buy at the store. My mom thinks it’s just great, but I think it’s got to have repercussions. Thanks for giving me the impetus to umplug my microwave too.