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nonstick cooking

This or That: Cast Iron or "Green" Nonstick Pans?

We tried out two alternatives to chemical nonstick pans.

By Emily Main

tags: COOKING TIPS, HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS



This or That: Cast Iron or

Can you handle it? Cast-iron pans are durable, but heavy.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Cooking at home is better for your health, but it can be a challenge if you don't have good cookware. Unfortunately, most pots and pans used for nonstick cooking, which is supposed to make cookery so much easier, are made with chemicals that have been linked to male infertility, pregnancy difficulties, high cholesterol, and thyroid problems. The experts we've talked to say it's best to phase out your nonstick cookware as it wears out, and cook with it only on low heat until then. But what should you replace it with? There are two main options.

This: Cast Iron

Pros: If properly seasoned, cast iron is naturally nonstick, without any toxic chemical needed. The material heats evenly and retains heat well, making it ideal for any cooking surface (use it in your oven to make the perfect buttery biscuits), for example. And cast-iron pots and pans last forever—some people still use the ones their grandparent handed down to them. That makes cast-iron cookware the most economically and environmentally sound purchase you can make for your kitchen.

Cons: It's heavy, and can be difficult to handle for people with arthritis. Also, unless you've purchased enameled cast-iron pans, it's not a good idea to use them for acidic foods. Tomatoes, citrus juices, beans, and other highly acidic products can eat through a cast-iron pan's seasoning, causing your food to discolor and taste metallic. And some foods, such as eggs, can stick to even the most seasoned pans, and so may require a dab of butter or extra cooking oil.

That: "Green" Nonstick Pans

Pros: A few brands of "green" nonstick have been introduced over the past few years to give people the benefits of nonstick with none of the associated health problems. The ones on the market now are made using nanotechnology and are coated with an ultrathin layer of ceramic. They're much lighter than cast iron, and are truly nonstick, so you can even cook your eggs without that extra butter or cooking oil. And, like cast-iron pans, they're good for use on any cooking surface.

Cons: They certainly don't last a lifetime—that is, none of them have been around for a lifetime, but they're not likely to last that long. As with chemical nonstick finishes, nano ceramic finishes can chip off, particularly around the edges. Heat retention and distribution isn't as good as with cast iron, either. Finally, very little is known about the environmental fate of nanoparticles, and increasing evidence is showing that those tiny particles could cause big-time damage.

This or That? Read on to find out.

Published on: January 27, 2010
Updated on: March 11, 2010



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Question

Hey all, I'd also like to know where I can buy green cookware?

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orgreenic cookware

Where can I buy orgreenic cookware?

Cast Iron Pans

I use leaf lard from organically raised livestock in my cast iron pans and have no problem with eggs sticking to the pan. Of course, I apply a small amount of lard to the inside of the pan after each use. If the weight of the pan is a problem, think of it as exercise with an added benefit. My pans seemed heavy when I first started using them, but now I don't even notice the weight. While my friends complain of hand pain as they age, gardening and other chores requiring hand strenth are not such a problem for me. The taste of the food prepared in cast iron is well worth any extra effort.

this or that? cast iron or green non-stick?

No! Always choose CAST IRON !! You laid out a perfect case for cast iron, Emily; it's indestructible and lasts forever. The older, the better, too. I use cast iron passed down from both my grandmothers.

I was FLABBERGASTED to read your advice to readers to choose nano nonstick cookware!

Nanotechnology is so new there are barely enough data or methods to check the safety of those products; nano-particles can penetrate our skin and the blood brain barrier. Through wear and tear, nanoparticles from products such as nano-textiles, cosmetics, or damaged cookware end up in water eco-systems and the fish we eat. Is That "green"??

Sorry, but I believe your green nonstick pan is an ill-advised choice, Emily.

From,
Cast iron advocate

Corning pans

I got corning ware pans for our wedding 45 years ago. I still use them every day. Is there a prolem with them as well? maunders

Green Pan

I agree that nanotech needs to be approached with caution. That said, the Green Pan looks like it isn't capable of breaking down into nano particles. The nano part appears to be part of the application process, from what I can glean from your link, above.

Nano applies to a vast range of technologies, materials, and chemicals. It's too broad a brush to say just because something is nano it can be dangerous even if properly used.

Any danger from it chipping would be similar to the danger of any other chipped ceramic. They can be sharp.

Cast Iron Pans

I read somewhere that, when aluminum cookware was introduced to the natives in Mexico and South America, to replace their cast iron pans, the people became lacking in iron, which had been previously released into their food when their tomato-based foods leached iron from their cast iron pans.

glass cookware?

I"m assuming glass cookware is safe, but agree with the previous poster that an article on stainless, glass, ceramic, etc. and their various health effects would be great!

Non Stick Coating Cause Effect

In your research, I'm sure you found how often we need to use these deadly non stick pans to actually have an adverse affect on our health? If so could you please provide us with that factual information instead of a biscuit recipe. Thanks!

Stainless

Good question! I have used my Revere and All Clad stainless for years.

Cast iron

I love my cast iron skillet. I wash it with salt as an abrasive. I seasoned it a couple of times but haven't in years and it still is pretty stick-free. I think simply cooking with it with oil in the pan seasons it.

Cast Iron Pans

I have hadone since forever. And I didn't know how to bring it back the way is was supposed to. Thanks for the great information

Stainless

I would like to know where stainless steel cookware fits in this mix?

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