There are no atoms, molecules, or cells of any organic system able to withstand
such a violent, destructive power for any period of time.
This will happen even given the microwave oven’s
low power range of milliwatts.
~Dr Hans Hertel

Dr Mercola, doctor, activist and blogger explains it all Рthe good, the bad and the ugly Рabout cooking with microwave ovens.  The FDA has turned a deaf ear to health concerns, still citing decades old research of the technology.  Not even Consumer Report has done its comprehensive evaluation of any food aspect of this technological wonder.  But here comes the good doctor to answer all of the questions surrounding the biggest boon to food preparation in the past hundred years.  And, just as important, he documents his work.

Wouldn’t you expect that a product that sits in more than 90 percent of kitchens, as well as practically every break room in the country, would have been thoroughly investigated for safety?

Wouldn’t we all?

We all know that using a microwave is fast and easy, but what exactly is the down side?¬† The article is long, but considers such things as nutritional degradation of food, fallout from radiation, short and long-term health consequences.¬† I’ve boiled down the essentials to give you the straight poop so that you can make your own decisions about whether or not to put that six cubic feet in your kitchen to better use.¬† When you have time, though, read the full article.

Perhaps the best reason to avoid the nuclear cooking method is that studies have shown that it degrades the nutritional value of food.  At this point in our food culture, because of widespread soil depletion on mega-farms and through industrial farming, our soil has become depleted of the nutrients that nourish plants while they are growing.  This has already resulted in a severe Рfrom five to fifty percent Рreduction in the nutritional food value from fifty years ago.  This is a good reason to buy organic, as small farmers tend to keep soil nourished through sustainable farming methods, using mild chemicals Рor no chemicals Рin growing plants.

With the raw material already being delivered with reduced nutritional value, it is important to retain as much of it as possible when preparing the food that you eat.  We need every resource imaginable to get the nutrients into our bodies, because it is those nutrients that are the life-blood of food.  The Dr says:

Research shows that your microwave oven will NOT help you in these efforts–and in fact will threaten your health by violently ripping the molecules in your food apart, rendering some nutrients inert, at best, and carcinogenic at its worst.

The Dr can be a little histrionic, and he isn’t one to shy away from harsh realities.¬† Passion aside, he makes a good point.¬† He explains how microwaves cook food – literally through rapid vibration of water molecules that generate steam hot enough to cook – and what that does to food’s nutritional value by altering its chemical structure.

Every food reacts differently, but numerous studies on individual foods have shown that microwaves lower the amount of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, antioxidants or disease-fighting agents that are inherently present in food, and have been found to foster growth of bacteria in breast milk.  Overall, sixty to ninety percent of foods tested have shown significant reduction in food value, even reducing substances inherent in food that act to prevent abnormal accumulation of fat within the body.  If girth is an issue, you might do well to consider this.

Hot spots form in microwave cooking and are dangerous, especially to infants.  Heating milk or formula in a microwave is dangerous because these hot spots can severely burn the mouth and throat of babies.

Most people know to never put metal – like aluminum foil –¬† in a microwave because it will destroy the oven.¬† Equally important is to avoid putting any sort of plastic in a microwave.¬† Heating plastic causes carcinogenic fumes to be released¬† into the food and the atmosphere.¬† These fumes are toxic to breathe and even more so to eat.¬† You would never put plastic in a conventional oven; don’t put it in a microwave either.¬† Not plastic containers, plastic bags or plastic wrap.

Even some paper packaging (like microwave popcorn bags) contain some plastic.¬† If you have to nuke the popcorn – and you don’t really – put it into a plain brown paper bag and fold over the top.¬† It pops the corn just the same.¬† Better yet, use plain popcorn bought in bulk, and put it in a brown paper bag.¬† Even better, put the plain popcorn in a skillet and pop it on the stove.¬† It’s easier than you’d ever imagine, and is a fraction of the cost.

Microwaves can have deleterious health effects, from nausea and headaches (microwave sickness) to eye damage.¬† It can elevate heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels.¬† Type III diabetes has been shown to be caused by microwave use.¬† Check out the video for more on this.¬† Microwaves can also alter the blood’s makeup by lowering red and white blood cell and hemoglobin levels.¬† They can elevate cholesterol levels.

Russian research after World War II was sufficient to have microwaves banned for four years in the 1970s, but with pressure to modernize in the 80s that ban was lifted.¬† Studies have shown that nutrients in many foods are converted to carcinogens during the microwaving process, and carcinogens are cancer-causing agents.¬† We don’t want to be around them, and we certainly don’t want to eat them.

Even before moving to New York City, I’ve long been a proponent of using valuable space for something other than appliances, and microwaves take up space; not only the square footage on the counter-top but the area in front of the oven has to be kept clear as well.¬† If you’re tall, you can put it on top of the refrigerator, but if you use it a lot and your stature requires you to remove hot foods above eye level, don’t do it.¬† Putting it up out of the way will lessen your dependence upon it, and you will rejoice at how much easier it is to cook in your kitchen with the counter-tops clear.¬† It may even foster more cooking; always a good thing.

Avoid using a microwave whenever possible.
Learn to multitask:¬† while the potato is baking in the oven, or the chicken is roasting, get some other task out of the way.¬† A double-boiler and an egg-poacher do a great job of melting and heating small quantities of food and leftovers, and a toaster oven works well to cook small portions.¬† Vegetables steam on the stove in a little water in seconds – literally! – so cooking these nutritionally valuable foods in a microwave is just foolish.¬† A slow cooker is a great way to have meals on the table within minutes of walking in the door, as is an oven with a timed bake feature.¬† You can also slow cook stews, soups and even meats in an oven at low temperature (200-250¬ļF).

Plan ahead so you don’t have to defrost things quickly.¬† Put frozen meats in the refrigerator to defrost overnight or while you’re at work.¬† Cultivate leftovers for quick meals.


  1. Step away from the unit after pressing the ‘Start’ button.¬† Don’t hold onto the handle while unit is in use because you can inadvertently loosen the connection that keeps the radiation in when it’s on.
  2. Never use the microwave to heat baby’s milk or formula because of hot spots that can make food too hot for infants.
  3. Never put plastic in a microwave.  Use glass bowls, and a paper towel as a cover to avoid food splashing about.
  4. Embrace cooking.¬† You’ll learn to appreciate what real food tastes like.¬† Especially f you’re trying to disembark from the salt/sugar/fat addiction of the food industry, there is no better way to get away from it all than cooking for yourself.
  5. Next time you feel compelled to bake a potato in the microwave, throw one in the conventional oven, just for giggles, and see how much time you actually save.¬† Compare the texture of the finished product.¬† You may be piling on the sour cream and cheese because the microwaved version is dry and mealy, unlike the moist, flaky spud that is conventionally cooked.¬† Do this test for your kids or guests and see how many people can discern the difference.¬† I bet you’ll be surprised.

Try No Micro for a week and see what happens.  It could change your life . . . for the better.  LMK.

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  1. Katherine says:

    This is a great post. I remember hearing a friend of mine say, “My wife got rid of our microwave – we don’t think they are good for the kids.” I thought, “Why in the world would they be bad?” But sure enough… I have stopped using mine most of the time…. I need to just get rid of it. I haven’t been able to visit all my favorite blogs – school has started… soooo busy. So I am subscribing – don’t want to miss any of your posts!
    Katherine´s last blog post ..Climbing Mountains and Eating Crickets

  2. Joy says:

    Nice to hear from you again, Katherine. You’re too kind. And thanks for subscribing. I’m glad you find SB&C useful. I had long been looking for this information but could find no evidence of speculations I’d heard floating about for years. It’s good to finally get the low down so everyone can be informed. I wonder what the government will do: regulate? tax? ban? I guess we’ll see. I’m planning things for your dutch oven this fall, so stay tuned!

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