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Friday, July 27, 2012

Going microwaveless?

Way back in March, on the 21st to be exact, our little 3 year old microwave quit on us. My wonderful fix-it hubby took it apart to see if it might be fixable. Jadon had fun playing with the outer shell, but no, it was a goner as far as cooking food goes. We pondered on the idea of running to wal-mart to get another one, but they just don't make anything built to last more than a few years. Would it be worth it to spend a couple hundred dollars every 3 years to nuke our food? What does that mean anyway? "nuking" It sounds like a very bad term. The freedictionary dot com defines it as this: tr.v. nuked, nuk·ing, nukes 1. To attack with nuclear weapons. 2. To heat in a microwave oven. It sounds like radiation leading to painful death. How does a microwave work anyway? In case you have ever wondered...A microwave takes the electricity from a regular wall outlet (110 volts) and via the high voltage transformer, turns it into approximately 3000 volts. This is what it takes for the magnetron tube to convert the high voltage into undulating waves of electromagnetic energy called microwaves. The frequency used in microwave ovens is the perfect frequency to heat water molecules. (2.45 gigahertz) To review biology: The water molecule has 3 atoms: 2 hydrogen and one oxygen. These atoms share their electrons in such a way that the positive charges are on one side and the negative charges are on the other. The electromagnetic waves produce constantly changing electric fields which forces the water molecule to rotate. Think about magnets and how they attract and repel and how you can move them by the opposing force. In the same way, the water molecules spin at the fastest rate possible, causing heat energy to be released, which in turn, heats the other molecules in the food. So basically the microwave capitalizes on the water molecule which is found in almost all foods (except obviously dried foods such as rice and pasta which will NOT cook) and uses its specific frequency to heat it up causing the surrounding molecules in the food to also heat up thereby heating it from the "inside out" In ice the molecules can not rotate as easily, so microwaves do not heat ice as effectively as they heat liquid water. The heated liquid water must heat the frozen water by normal conduction. So frozen foods can heat unevenly. Does cooking with a microwave damage or alter the food it's cooking? Well, microwaving uses alternating currents, begins within the cells and molecules of foods where the energy transforms into frictional heat which damages the molecules and creates harmful by-products (radiolytic compounds)however, this occurs during direct current cooking as well. Our food changes when we cook it, that's why we cook it. There are studies that show negative effects of microwaved food. (There were basically two that I could find) Dr. Hans Hertel, a retired Swiss food scientist, with Bernard Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University Institute for Biochemistry, conducted the first clinical study of the effects of microwaved nutrients on human blood and physiology. Dr. Hertel concluded that microwave cooking reduces the nutritional content of foods and creates harmful by-products that lead to blood abnormalities and deterioration in the body. [Valentine, Tom. Search for Health. 1992.] Another doctor, Dr. Lita Lee, adds that microwave ovens leak radiation and cause the following adverse effects in food: Formation of cancer-causing substances, leakage of toxic chemicals from the packaging into the foods, and destruction of nutrients [Lee, Lita, Ph.D. Microwaves and Microwave Ovens., 2001]. Food changes when we cook it. It does lose nutrient value whether we cook it in the microwave or on the stove. I do believe that food should not be microwaved in plastics. I also believe that microwaves could possibly leak radiation, so I do not stand near one that is on. So in conclusion, I am not certain that microwaved food is any more dangerous than grilled, baked, fried, or saute food. However, we decided not to replace our broken microwave. Our new house did not have a formal cubby for a microwave, so we kept ours on top of the fridge, which was terribly inconvenient. I did not want to use up precious counter top space so that was where it had to go. Honestly, I can say that I don't really miss it. I can heat sissy's milk on the stove top in about the same time as the microwave and stove top popcorn is WAAAAAYYY better than that microwave stuff and is well worth the extra effort. Bye Bye microwave!

1 comment:

  1. ...To review biology: The water molecule has 3 atoms: 2 hydrogen and one oxygen.....

    Just nitpicking. Wouldn't this be Chemistry?

    Anyway, interesting blog and good luck to you. I know I get tired of the taste of microwaved food.