The 5 Steps to Create a Toxic Chemical Free Kitchen

img_0905Most families put a lot of focus on preparing healthy food and cooking with healthy ingredients, setting aside of course the wrath of the Lunchbox Jury! Buying local or organic when you can and avoiding antibiotics in dairy and meat are great examples. But did you know that what you’re using to actually prepare this healthy food IN and WITH can be full of nasty chemicals?  The good news is that we’re going to tell you the top culprits to avoid so that you can be on your way to creating a toxic chemical free kitchen.

How to Create a Toxic Chemical Free Kitchen

Filter Tap Water to Drink and Cook

Do you know your drinking water is safe, or are you just assuming it is?  Last year in a large study, the National Resource Defense Council concluded that up to 18 million Americans were at risk of drinking lead contaminated water.  They found that over 1,000 community water systems, serving over 4 million people, exceeded the allowed levels of lead.  They also noted that the EPA, which oversees tap water safety, only followed up on or enforced 11% of violations.  You can see the largest communities with EPA violations here.

Net, not only should you be drinking filtered water whenever possible, but you should also use filtered water to cook meals. That’s the closest you can get to toxic chemical free water.

Re-Think Your Cookware

Aluminum: When you cook with aluminum, small amounts of it can leach into your food.  Aluminum is linked to to dementia and Alzheimer’s. It has been found in the brains of dementia patients, which means it may be able to break the blood/brain barrier. Some experts say that using anodized aluminum solves this problem, but we think if you have the choice, it’s best to err on the side of avoiding aluminum altogether.

Ceramic cookware containing lead: Keep this away from your kids if at all possible.  Hot liquids and acidic foods cause more lead to leach. In addition, stay away from dishware that has a chalky film after it has been washed.  And that antique serving bowl from Grandma?  We hate to tell you, but experts advise not serving food out of antique ceramic serving dishes.

Teflon:  Okay we’re practical. We know that non stick cookware is WONDERFUL.  But you should know that the health & safety risk of Teflon changes by temperature.  Especially at high temperatures, toxic particles and gasses can be released that we don’t want our kids around!

Ditch the Plastic Utensils

Like with aluminum, when you use plastic spoons, the chemicals from the plastic can seep into your food.  An example of a plastic common in opaque plastic utensils is polystyrene, which shows up as code 6 on recycling guides.  Polystyrene can leach a known neurotoxin called styrene.  Instead, use utensils made of wood, bamboo, or other nontoxic ingredients.

Store Leftovers Wisely

You may think you’re being eco friendly by saving excess food instead of throwing it out, but the way you store it can actually be harmful to you and your family. You probably already know to avoid BPA, but there are some other plastic types you should know about.  If the recycling code on your plastic is 3, 6 or 7, you should do some investigating or avoid it all together.  Leftover containers marked code 3 often contain PVCs, which create dioxin, a carcinogen.  They also often include chemicals that when seeped into your food can that affect liver function and disrupt hormones. Containers marked code 7 may contain BPA so look carefully.  Really the safest alternative would be to store leftovers in glassware. But if you can’t avoid all plastics all the time, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t put them into the microwave
  • Don’t let them heat up in a hot car
  • When they crack, it’s time to recycle

Use Nontoxic Cleaning Products

We know that the best meals often come with the stickiest, grimiest, stinkiest kitchen messes. Do your research on your cleaning products, because even cleaning products claiming to be “natural” can be packed full of toxic chemicals.  That’s because there are no federal regulations dictating criteria for cleaners labelled as “natural”.  We recommend avoiding cleaners with fragrances, dyes, preservatives, allergens and irritants because it’s hard to know how safe they really are.    Force of Nature is a great option for families trying to shift towards a more chemical free kitchen.  It’s an eco friendly cleaner made from just salt, water and vinegar, yet as effective as bleach. With no toxic chemicals, it’s kid-safe and the perfect companion to your newly chemical free kitchen. Learn more here.

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