An (un)Necessary Convenience: Should We Fear the Microwave?

Microwave Oven

I have two kinds of friends – those who use microwaves and those who don’t. Somewhere along the way I became one of the non-users. I actually do own a microwave, but I only use it as a last resort and only in certain instances and with stipulations (never microwave anything in or with plastic, for one). Where did the trepidation about this modern tool for conveniently reheating food come from? Is the fear of microwaves unfounded?

While there’s no dearth of articles on the subject, I question much of what I’ve read as many opinions are inflammatory, with dubious sources. From what I can gauge, studies show conflicting reports with one area of agreement – avoid microwaving food in or with any plastic. It seems reasonable to microwave food using only microwave-safe containers such as ceramic or Pyrex, given that research has shown certain plastics can leech into food that could potentially be harmful.

Sometimes it comes down to aesthetics – a desire for purity. Why would I use a microwave when I honestly don’t need one? I can easily heat or re-heat anything quickly on my stovetop with one simple trick. Pour a small amount of water into the saucepan before adding the food, cover, crank up the heat and steam the food in 3-5 minutes. Seems convenient to me!

Image: Valerie Everett

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3 thoughts on “An (un)Necessary Convenience: Should We Fear the Microwave?

  1. I am a microwave scientist – have been working with microwaves for 50 years and own about 50 microwave ovens. I’ve taught microwave courses all over the world; presented many research papers at international conferences; have 28 microwave patents; am the current president of the leading microwave scientific society (having previously been president for 10 years in the 70s – 80s); and lots more. I tell you this in order to let you know I have some scientific credentials, so when I tell you that microwave ovens are a perfectly safe way to cook food, you have reason to believe me. They DO NOT destroy nutrients in foods or cause cancer. All they do is heat foods in a manner that is as nutritious or better than any other method. There i also no reason to be afraid of their radiation, unless you are afraid of moonlight.

    The web is cluttered with hysterical and inaccurate garbage about microwave ovens. The things that are quoted as supporting the dangers of microwave ovens have been refuted for years by the scientific community. If you can’t believe that, there is nothing more I can do.

  2. I haven’t owned a microwave in about 2 years! I have yet to have an experience where I wished I had one.

    Now when I think about it, it totally creeps me out how the color, taste and consistency of a lot of things completely change once placed in the microwave.

  3. I tend to use my microwave a lot but, like you said, never with plastic! I read a long time ago (wish I could remember the source…) that if you’re making yourself a cup of tea, it’s more energy-efficient to microwave the water than it is to boil water on an electric stovetop. I apply that to anything single-serve!


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