Blog: 10 Tips for Buying Sustainable Cookware

 

If you read my last article, hopefully, you are raring to go and buy some sustainable cookware. Great!  One problem though – good sustainable cookware isn’t cheap. For example, most ceramic pots and pans actually have a coating. Xtrema is a rare cookware manufacturer that doesn’t coat its ceramic pans. Perfect! Except for this quality, sustainability and non-toxicity cost money. Of course buying durable, long-lasting cookware will save you money in the long run. Sometimes buying cheap is a false saving that doesn’t really help in the short term.

How can you help the planet and save money?

1. Consider Second hand

For some cookware, especially cast iron, there’s no harm in getting something second hand. You can buy it, or even better, maybe talk a family member into passing you one of their pieces of cast iron!

2. One Pan at a Time

I wouldn’t suggest going out and buying a new cookware set straight away. If you are used to cooking with Teflon, it’s better to replace pans as you go. Cast iron, for example, is more work. It’s heavier, and you need to change your cooking style slightly. What if you hate it? Try one, second hand, pan before you buy more. Who knows – maybe you’ll love it and get a set.

3. Take a Look at, or Through Glass Cookware

I recently researched and wrote about glass cookware, which I find interesting. Do you know there is such a thing as a glass frying pan? I have been thinking about getting one (and keeping it away from my children!) I will wait until my nonstick pan starts to wear though. I don’t need it straight away, so why not use what I’ve got? It’s the opposite of sustainable to throw away perfectly usable pans.

4. Less Cookware

I write about cookware so maybe that’s why I have a bit too much in my kitchen! My kitchen isn’t huge but it isn’t the smallest either. I always feel like there isn’t enough room though. Sometimes less is more. If you can’t afford a full sustainable cookware set, perhaps you don’t need all the pieces? As an example, I don’t use a proper griddle to cook pancakes – I use a normal pan.

5. Go For Flexible Pans

A way of using less energy is by having fewer pans. It also has the advantage of clearing some space in your kitchen. I can use the same pan for different things then that helps declutter my kitchen. Versatility can come in different ways and depends on each person, but for example:

  • Oven safe can be convenient
  • Having a lid makes it easier to turn a frying pan into a saute or even saucepan
  • Being easy to clean means they are ready to use for the next meal
  • Fitting on one burner on the stove but having a decent capacity. For a frying pan, 10 inches seems to work well
  • Whatever you do make sure it’s what you need, and it works for you.

6. Mix It Up!

Flexibility goes more than one way. By mixing and matching you increase what you can do. For example, when heating liquids, stainless steel is fantastic. This is great for cooking things like pasta, soup, and sauces, or for steaming. So a stainless steel stockpot can be a great idea. But then a large cast-iron skillet could help with popping corn, frying, and searing.

7. Consider Cores

Copper or Aluminum cores are a great way of using these conductive metals.  Copper bottoms often wear off.  A core is inside the pan so avoids this problem.  It will save you money in the long run through more efficient heating – plus not more hot spots!

8. Consider All Your Options

If you need to fry some eggs, perhaps even consider a small nonstick pan. Yes, it’s better to use the cast iron skillet, if you can, but it is harder! Actually even better could be a stainless steel frying pan with a copper core as it wouldn’t need much heat. Except the eggs will probably stick. If you can deal with that – perfect!

9. Beware Coatings

Coatings are the “Gotcha!” of cookware.  Do you think you are buying a healthy stone pan?  Great – but what’’s it coated in? Apart from chemicals, the coating will eventually wear away and you’ll need to replace the pan.

10. Be Realistic

 

The worst thing you can do is go and buy a sustainable cast iron cookware set and never use it.  Are you prepared to do the extra work?  Do you even have the time?  You can buy really low maintenance, sustainable cookware for a high price.  You can also get some nice, affordable, sustainable cookware that does need a little work.  Getting affordable, long-lasting, sustainable cookware that doesn’t need any maintenance – well that might be harder!

What Cookware Should I Get Then!? What should you aim for in the long term? Here are my thoughts:

  • Up to 1 Nonstick frying / sauté pan with an aluminum body to heat food quickly. Or (better yet) a stainless steel pan with a copper or aluminum base or core.
  • A stainless steel stockpot, ideally with copper or aluminum base of the core.
  • A cast-iron Skillet
  • Steamer / colander – stainless steel
  • Ceramic or glass bakeware

Of course, it depends on what you cook. Want a nice crunchy stir fry? Then a carbon steel wok is perfect. And, clearly, the larger the family the more cookware you need!

Thanks, Beatriz for 2 great articles and information about the differences in cookware and what’s sustainable and what’s not. I appreciate your contribution to holistic and sustainable living from all aspects. Now we know something about sustainable cookware. Got any tips, comments? Beatriz and I would love to hear from you. Enjoy. Judith

Blog: Sustainable Cookware with Beatriz Garcia

 

 

 

 

Beatriz Garcia is my guest blog post writer this week. She reached out to me recently about sustainable cookware and I found her information useful. We often look at packaging as sustainable or not but what about our kitchen cookware? Summer is also a time for weddings and purchases for college dorms. I happen to be a fan of cast iron. Yes, they are heavy but I find them easy to clean and I like the even heating. What type of cookware is your favorite and why? Beatriz and I would love to hear from you.

Beatriz Garcia found out about the sustainable side of cookware when researching healthy cookware for her site Clan Kitchen.  You can find her writing there in the rare moments she isn’t busy looking after her family. Beatriz is keen to cook healthily and sustainably, but also has to balance this with quickly cooking foods her kids want to eat!

Coatings 

Whatever material you choose, you need to beware of the coating. If, for example, you want to avoid Teflon, then you should look for “PTFE free”.  Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is the active ingredient in Teflon. Unfortunately, many pans are advertised as PFOA free. This is not helpful – PFOA was banned years ago. Other chemicals are now used to manufacture PTFE!  Unfortunately, when reviewing different pans, I’ve found many ceramic or stone pans actually have a coating that includes PTFE. People buying those bands could be misled by this. I certainly wouldn’t expect a ceramic or stone pan to include Teflon. Dr. Mercola, the number one holistic wellness expert, and site in the world, says this about Teflon coatings:

“In fact, the convenience of a nonstick or stain-resistant surface comes at a steep price, as such chemicals persist in the environment, are contaminating water supplies and have been linked to developmental problems, cancer, liver damage, immune effects, thyroid problems and more.”

My advice here is that if you are buying a pan that advertises itself as non-stick; check if it is PTFE free. If it doesn’t state PTFE free, then it probably does have Teflon. This is especially the case with ceramic, stone, aluminum pans, or any pan with a special coating. Here’s the problem with coatings in general: They wear away over time. And when they wear away, the pan loses any non-stick properties it had. The underlying layer/body of the pan is also exposed. This is often not healthy. For example, Aluminum exposure may cause Alzheimer’s. Once the coating of any pan starts to chip, I’d recommend throwing it away. And here we are back to the durability issue!  One coating that you can repair is the seasoning on cast iron or carbon steel pans. 

Efficiency 

It’s not just the energy used in creating the pan that counts, but also the energy used every time you cook with it! The miles per gallon metric for cars is unachievable and unrealistic. But at least it allows you to compare different cars. Yet cookware doesn’t come with anything like that. How can we compare?  The overall conductivity of each material to get an idea of which cookware is best. This isn’t perfect, but it’s something. 

Examining this factor suggests copper and aluminum top the charts, followed by cast iron. Stainless steel is the worst of the typical cookware metals. You don’t normally expose food directly to copper or aluminum for safety reasons. One option is a copper or aluminum core to help conduct and spread the heat. Some pans even have a copper bottom. I can’t imagine a layered pan would make the job of recycling any easier though! 

This might also depend on how you cook though. Cast iron is in the middle of the conductivity range and takes ages to heat up. But there is a way around this! Heat the cast iron pan before putting the food on it, then turn it off the stove when the food is almost ready. The pan keeps its heat a while and carries on cooking. With a little bit of practice, you can get the timing right on this. 

What Next? 

So, you’re sold on sustainable cookware but you’re not sure what to do next!  Perhaps you don’t have money to just go and buy another cookware set.  Keep using the pans you have for now, and watch out for my next article, where I will give you 10 tips on how to buy and afford, sustainable cookware. 

Thanks, Beatriz, for sharing the above information on how to look at our cookware sustainably. Next week Beatriz offers 10 tips for buying sustainable cookware.

Remember your comments are appreciated.

Enjoy. Judith

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Lana Nelson, Author The Food Codes

Description: Lana Nelson, the author of The Food Codes, Intuitive Eating for Every Body, shatters the stereotype of a food intuitive. Lana began her life’s work into healthy eating over three decades ago, long before it was fashionable. As a Certified Emotion and Body Code consultant, Lana has developed one of the easiest techniques on the planet to help anyone discover what foods are “best for you!”
Join us for an engaging discussion. Lana shares her story, how the subconscious mind works and why using our intuitive capabilities gets positive results. Happy eating.

About My guest: Lana is also a Licensed Massage Therapist as well as a Reiki Master Teacher who counsels in nutritional, herbal, and homeopathic therapies. Her focus is on individuals, couples and families who struggle with food, health, and emotional problems.

Transcript: #76 Lana Nelson

 

Blog: Bring the Sunshine In!

 

 

Yep! Its still winter. Though we haven’t had much snow here in the Northeast, it’s been pretty cold which keeps us indoors. Today, Vitamin D research still gets a lot of attention especially for folks prone to SAD or seasonal affective disorder. Grey skies, lack of sunshine can cause some of us to feel blue.

Many health magazines report on the important role this vitamin plays not only for bone formation, and support for the immune system but also for cancer prevention. Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine” vitamin, needs the sun to activate a form of vitamin D3 under our skin when exposed that sets up a positive biochemical cascade that has many healthful benefits.

If you have the beginning stages of breast, prostate cancer or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) for example, I would highly recommend you get your levels tested. However, I encourage everyone to have their Vitamin D levels tested and if needed to use quality supplementation, especially through the winter months. Besides getting outside and exercising whether walking, skiing, hiking where possible, the outdoors helps us get through the change of season. Too much Vitamin D can be harmful so please start the new year right: know your Vit D level.

According to Dr. Mercola, the best blood test to check your Vitamin D levels is: “25(OH)D is the better marker of overall D status. It is this marker that is most strongly associated with overall health.

Seafood such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring contain higher amounts of D3. For vegan’s and vegetarians, soy milk, almond milk are often fortified with vitamin D. That also includes cereals, orange juice. Check your labels and if you are a vegan get a baseline Vitamin D test done to ensure optimal health.

So get out in the sunshine when possible even if its cold. Nature, fresh air and sunlight have a marvelous way of chasing away the winter blues.

Enjoy your day. Judith

 

 

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Nigel Palmer


Description: Healthy soils support healthy plants, create nutrient-dense foods, help create better health. It all begins with the soil. My guest this week, Nigel Palmer, is a soil consultant and teaches sustainable and regenerative soil practices with The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition, TIOSN, here in North CT. What’s good for soil biology, the “digestive system” of soil, is actually important for us. Join us for an informative discussion on growing nutritious foods from the ground up.

About My Guest: Nigel Palmer is a Bionutrient Food and Soil Consultant practicing sustainable, regenerative mineralization programs. He develops plant and soil improvement products by fermenting local plants, extracting minerals, and capturing then cultivating indigenous microorganisms. He uses the refractive index of plant saps and crops as a way of monitoring long and short-term plant health trends and the efficacy of the products developed.

Nigel is the Outside Consultant for The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition or TIOSN. He teaches sustainable regenerative gardening techniques, the keeping of bees, and discusses monthly, the night sky and many subtle nuances of the world out of doors.

Transcript: Nigel Palmer 

Blog: Plant-Based Eating

Several guests on my podcast show, Holistic Nature of Us, talk about diet, nutrition as being one of the most important factors in creating foundational health. Building healthy soil leads to harvesting nutrient-rich foods, leads to looking at plant-based eating more carefully. And maybe adopting better nutrition habits for the long run. In my nursing career where I worked in the field of oncology, I saw first hand the effects of using products that had serious health consequences and environmental ones too. Long term consequences were not considered in their development and usage. I wonder about us.

I looked into the creation of and use of pesticides, herbicides and more in my travels. It seems that we as a species jump on the bandwagon of new discoveries without asking one crucial question: what are the long term consequences? How will this development/innovation affect the next seven generations? Why is it we seem to have developed products and more with serious effects on our health and the planet and we continue to do so?

This TED Talk is given by a physician who has researched nutrition and health and the evidence is there: plant-based eating promotes foundational health. He too asks the same questions. A little quirky but factual, I hope the short video gives you food for thought.
What one dietary change will you make today to support your foundational health?

Remember: all comments are appreciated. Enjoy. Judith

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