Thursday, January 20, 2011

Terrifying Teflon

I have always taken the "____ Will Give You Cancer" posts that pop up on news-y sites across the internet with a grain of salt, because if you listened to everything that they said (including "turning on the bathroom light in the middle of the night") you would be forced to come to the unpleasant conclusion that life in general is chockablock full of carcinogens.

That said, we live in a toxin-filled world, where harmful things come from even the most benign places. Children's toys, the clothes we wear, beauty products, and food. I don't like it when celebrities get all preachy about the virtues of buying all organic food because let's face it, it is usually more expensive and more difficult to obtain, and not everyone has the financial means to do it, even if they wanted to. And while I try to buy organic/free-range/hormone and cruelty free meat and eggs and diary when possible, I try not to drive myself crazy over it. It is good to remember Michael Pollan's pithy words of wisdom. Eat food. Not to much. Mostly plants.

And yet, what good is organic meat when you're cooking it in a teflon-coating pan? Teflon is scary. I don't think I have ever come right out and said "DON'T DO THIS" but seriously, folks, stay away from teflon. My mom always told me not to buy those "non-stick" teflon pans and stick with all-clad or something similar because if and when something sticks to the teflon, which it always does, when you try and clean it off, the sponge/brush and soap you use will scratch the teflon, leading to little abrasions where food will get stuck and never come out, and it will also flake off into your next meal.

The unsavory and futility of that aside, teflon is highly toxic. How it is still allowed to be used in cooking tools is beyond me. A friend of mine will be writing a more in-depth article on this in an upcoming issue of Health magazine, but this little anecdote she told me last night is truly frightening. If you heat a teflon coated pan on your stove without enough oil to hold in the fume of the burning/heated teflon, and you have a bird anywhere in the house (parakeet, parrot, canary, whatever), within five minutes the bird will be dead. Dead! How do you think people discovered this? Pretty obvious...there were DEAD BIRDS all over people's houses across the country from breathing in noxious fumes!!

If that is not frightening I don't know what is, especially considering the fact that these same people, prior to realizing their beloved pet just died what I can only imagine was a highly unpleasant death, were probably happily making their stir fry or seared fish or whatever and then chowing down on the meal cooked with that very same toxic fume!

I maintain that for most things in life, the ol' ancient Greek mantra of moderation will work for almost anything, but as far as teflon goes, I think I gotta just say no.

1 comment:

  1. I remember the Teflon commercials from the 80s—and remember being fairly enamored. Thanks for the heads-up!

    Always had a feeling it was too good to be true. Wow.