It was 4 years ago now that the journey began for us. My oldest boy was in the fifth grade and he had to do (the dreaded) science fair project. I knew straight off the bat that we should pick something that was interesting to me, as well as him, as I would be right there along with him for every second of the journey.
He chose an experiment to do with microwave radiation. The gist is you put radish seeds into a microwave for varying lengths of time and then you plant them and see which seeds grow best.
This little practice isn’t what changed my mind on tossing our household microwave though, it was the research that he did for his report to go along with his project. We read FDA reports and regulation on microwave testing and we came across statements like, “below the level known to harm people,” and, “insignificant radiation levels.”
Thing is, these statements that were in the reports didn’t make me feel much better. We know that ‘trace levels’ of a thing, is still a thing, right?! And, below the level KNOWN to harm people? Sure, for now. Until they come up with more accurate testing? And then what are they going to let us in on when they do. Something like, “Oh yeah, you probably shouldn’t heat up food in plastic or put saran wrap in the microwave,” and other things we learned long after our moms had been doing it for years!
The biggest thing to me, apart from the molecular changes it causes in food and the fact that hospitals may not use them to heat up blood for transfusions or that moms are told not to heat breast milk up in them, (why not if they’re perfectly safe, huh?) was that we just don’t know enough. Microwaves are relatively new. I remember making a family trip to the store to pick this new fandangled contraption up. It was amazing! But is it?
So when we moved into our new house I deemed it the perfect time. The microwave simply didn’t have to make the move with us. Fresh starts and all’a that. I asked the hubs, who was skeptical, to give me three months and then we’d reassess.
Turns out, you don’t really need a microwave! We’ve lived without one for a year now and I can’t say for one second that I miss it. Hubs misses it when he wants to heat up his coffee, but I think that’s about it. And a pot on the stove does the job just as quickly, thank you very much.
It did take a bit to transition to and, while I think all of these things are for the better, it did take some adjustment. So, what are the things we had to change when living microwave free? In no particular order:
- Warming up coffee was a big one. We like our coffee hot but don’t always get to it quick enough to finish the cup hot. My husband uses the steam wand on the espresso machine to reheat his. I simply dump it into a small pot on the stove for a minute. It works perfectly and doesn’t get a burnt taste the microwave would if you heated it too long.
- Melting butter. When you want to butter up your popcorn or a recipe calls for melted butter we would just pop it in the microwave. Even a pot was overkill when you needed just half a teaspoon so I bought some metal measuring cups. We put the butter into the one cup measurer and hold it over the flame of the stove for less than a minute to melt. No big.
- Heating up leftovers. This was a big one for my husband as he’s not home for nearly 2 hours after the rest of us have dinner. His meals were alway thrown on a plate and heated in the microwave. This one has created the most work for me but I think we all benefit the most from it as well. I now reheat his dinner either in a pot on the stove or back into the oven. It might take more time but the quality of what he’s eating is so much better. It’s evenly heated through and seems more like a fresh dinner than pulling a plate of tough meat out of the microwave. So it’s a task I’m happy to take on.
- The hardest part is if you forget to thaw something. Want a bagel right now? Too bad, it’s frozen. Wanted buns with dinner? Not gonna happen. I didn’t use the microwave for thawing meat but I’m sure some do so you really have to be diligent with taking meats out in plenty of time to thaw for dinner. It definitely makes pre-planning more important but really, that just makes the whole day better as well, so it’s a win!
- We never did microwave popcorn either but I assume lots of people do. We love our air popper or making it right on the stove is such a simple way too. Plus, no chemicals for the win!
Overall, I think it’s been a positive change. Our kids are learning how to cook instead of just heat up. Our food is better for not being zapped. The reheats are better for the even way the oven heats over the hot in the middle and cold edges of microwave years gone by. Plus, we never have to worry about the study that may be released in 10 years saying they were wrong and the radiation leak from it is much more damaging then they thought.
That might seem like overkill but from a girl who lost her dad to a cancer that came about 40 years after his exposure to a ‘miracle product’ of the 60’s and 70’s, I’m not willing to take the chance.