Chances are, you probably own at least one piece of Teflon or other type of toxic non-stick cookware. “Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called ‘Teflon Flu’ or, as scientists describe it, ‘Polymer fume fever’),” according to Environmental Working Group.
From saucepans to baking sheets and muffin tins, cooking products with finishes made of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that leach toxins remain the mainstay in many homes across the country. It is a long and costly process for eco-conscious consumers to switch completely from cookware coated with toxic finishes to those that are nontoxic. Do it one step at a time: take inventory of the Teflon and non-stick items in your kitchen, and replace each item with a nontoxic version throughout the year. Keep a list at hand of the following nontoxic products and brands below when shopping for eco-friendly replacements.
Stainless steel is a must-have in the kitchen when it comes to boiling, sautéing and baking. Pans made out of this non-toxic metal retain heat so smaller baked items tend to cook evenly. Stainless steel is also easy to clean; scrubbing pans down with steel wool will keep layers of oil from accumulating on the surface. A number of companies are now making solid stainless steel cooking products without PFCs. All Clad makes an extensive collection of high quality stainless steel pots and pans, including roasters, griddles and even a lasagna pan. Fox Run sells a range of stainless steel bakeware at affordable prices, such as muffin tins and baking sheets.
Glass is totally eco-friendly, nontoxic and durable—a great material to choose when stocking your kitchen with chemical-free cookware. However, you can’t use glass pans for everything—certain items like baking tins are hard to find in glass, and some dishes like pies don’t always cook evenly in glassware. Glass pans generally work best for savory dishes such as pot pies, baked pasta and quick breads. Some excellent brands include beautifully crafted pieces by Emile Henry, and more affordable pans by Pyrex.
Ceramic is an organic material that has been used for baking dating back to ancient cultures. Today, you can find nicely made ceramic bake and cookware in a variety of colors. Ceramor sells many types of ceramic cookware, including a line of a high quality line of black coated bakeware called Xtrema. Le Creuset makes a wide array of items in numerous styles and colors that are reasonably priced and often carried by large retailers.
Green Non-Stick Cookware
Several businesses have developed new technologies to provide the convenience of nonstick to cook and bakeware without PFCs or other types of toxic coating. One company, Green Pan, uses a patented technology called Thermolon to make their pans non-stick and heat resistant up to high temperatures. Orgreenic makes similar products that have aluminum bases and special coatings made of a combination of ceramic and a newly-developed nonstick material that is apparently eco-friendly.