So long, Teflon
If you’re using your mum’s hand-me-down Teflon, we hate to say it, but it may not be worth the sentimentality, or the convenience. Teflon is just the name brand, but there are plenty of off-brands making this same coating. It’s derived from toxic chemicals known as polyfluorinated alkyl substances, aka PFAS, and polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE. Once heated to normal cooking temperatures, this cookware releases toxic gasses and chemicals into our food. Imagine blowing your paycheck at Erewhon just to make your food … toxic.
These chemicals have been linked to birth defects and even cancer. And it’s not just ourselves that are affected—when we wash the cookware and rinse food down the drain, these toxic chemicals get released into our water systems and are not easily filtered out. That means it can affect the whole community. Less toxic cookware = less toxic water for everyone.
The quickly oxidized layer itself is super strong, and won’t compromise even acidic foods like your favorite tomato sauce recipe, but caring for it is crucial. Since aluminum is considered a heavy metal, and heavy metal build-up is associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer, we don’t want it in our food.
Being sure to use wooden or silicone cooking utensils prolongs the life of your cookware, and ultimately the safety of your food. When we use metal utensils to scrape the bottom of the pot or pan, we risk breaking through that anodized layer, damaging our cookware and exposing the non-oxidized aluminum, which does seep into our food. Acidic foods increase the amount of aluminum that seeps out, yikes.
Stainless steel for the win
Stainless steel is the superhero material for cookware. While it comes at a price, it can last a lifetime, and its non-porosity is ultimately badass, especially when it comes to cooking our precious and delicious, healthy meals. Just be sure you’re getting a brand that is high-quality stainless steel, so it won’t leach nickel and chromium into your food.
We gravitate toward the chic and indestructible All-Clad, because they are also oven-safe, meaning you actually save space and money because you need less—they can go straight from the stovetop to the hot oven to braise, bake, and finish just about anything. Bone apple tea.