From leftover lunches, lean cuisines, and ready-made meals nuking food is the norm for meal times these days. While a common place practice, radiating your morning Toaster Strudle is still a fairly new concept. The first microwave, invented in 1947, by Percy Spencer was somewhat accidental, while studying magnetrons the inventor noticed a nearby snack was melting (online rumors toil between chocolate and ice cream) the phenomenon piqued his interest and thus Radarange was created. Radarange stood around six feet tall and weighed a hefty 750 pounds. Through food evolution and industrial innovation began the inevitable introduction of the much more sophisticated commercial microwave and our present prepackaged meal utopia.
With the increase in eco trending and our ever growing health blights, concerns are being raised and studies are revealing some interesting and alarming information about the impact microwaving has on our food. Let’s not forget the freezing process most food encounters is already highly processed, nutrient void, preserved with things like partially hydrogenated oils, and added chemicals to make up for the lack luster taste a home cooked meal offers; factor in the pre-wrapped bow on your dinner entrée and you might be getting more than just a quick meal as a present. While I was perusing livestrong.com I came across an interesting article citing the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide:
“When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, substances used in manufacturing the plastic (plasticizers) may leak into the food. In particular, fatty foods such as meats and cheeses cause a chemical called diethylhexyl adipate to leach out of the plastic.”
This might be a rare instance where reusing plastics designed to hold things like margarine, sour cream, cottage cheese etc… are best recycled and not reused. Plastics marked with either 3 or 7 recycles codes can actually contain Bisphenol A aka BPA. BPA has been linked to growing rates of asthma, cancer and other medical woes, the chemical compound promotes estrogenic activity which has some serious health potential risks and effects, the government is now recognizing these concerns and studies and are looking at ways to remove BPA and offer safer alternatives for our food containers. At the very least you can hope to avoid some leaching by sticking to microwave safe containers, although the research is pretty grey surrounding these types of plastics as well, it might be simpler to stick with glass or other ceramic alternatives and avoid the controversy all around.
Regardless of container contaminant concerns or the nutrient dense food supplied in the tubs, one might concern themselves with the idea that a microwave oven is nothing more than a radiation oven. Radiation is a result of nuclear decay, the nuking hot box decays the molecular structure of the grub by way of radiation… mmm irradiated chow- this is one bandwagon I’m not joining and I don’t think I’ll wait another 20 years to find out we shouldn’t have been doing this all along (ahem lead based paint, cigarettes, and artificial sweeteners).
Wells, S. D. “Microwave containers leaching toxins into food at alarming rates.” Natural News. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013. <http://www.naturalnews.com/ 034101_microwaveable_containers_plastics.html>.
Ronberg, Gary. “Hazards of Microwaving Plastic Food Containers.” Livestrong. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/ 149262-hazards-of-microwaving-plastic-food-containers/>.