I love to read about all the wonderful ways to build green houses and I’m way into tearing out old kitchens and redoing them… but for most of us, greening our kitchen can seem totally overwhelming!
The most important and easiest place to start is shifting what we use to cook and store our foods. When I first began changing the road that I’d been walking on, I started with cleaning up my kitchen and ridding it of unhealthy pots, pans, containers, toxic cleaning products, disposable plates and cups and processed foods.
Below is my list of what to toss and what to add:
Teflon or ANY Non-Stick Pots & Pans
Teflon pans are covered with chemicals and no matter what we want to believe, when chemicals are heated they break down and seep into our foods.
Cast Iron, Cast Enamel or Stainless Steel
Think old school ancestral - what your granny cooked with. Cast iron or stainless steel pots last a LIFE TIME and two they don’t leak nasty chemicals into your food. In fact, Iron Skillets add iron! It takes some elbow grease to clean them but, hey, getting your scrub on now is better than living with chronic DIS - EASE later.
Yard sales are a great place to find cast iron pots and pans as well as stainless steel. Also, discount stores like TJMAX & Marshalls always have a few cast enamel pots on the shelves.
Cooking with plastic spatulas, large serving spoons or plastic ladles is the same thing as using Teflon covered pots. If you are stirring hot soups, flipping hot eggs, or frying foods, placing a plastic utensil into this heat causes the plastic (a chemical) to melt into your food. Plastic is not a solid, it is a melting chemical, breaking down constantly regardless of heat or not. Also, plastic is petroleum byproduct and petroleum should never be added to a recipe.
What to use instead? WOODEN or stainless steel – again, think old school!
Storing leftovers in plastic containers is the same thing as cooking with plastic. Once we’ve gone to all the work of cooking our healthy meals, why would we want to place them in a plastic container to absorb petroleum? Instead, I buy glass containers with plastic tops (the food doesn’t touch the top). For school lunches, I use BPA free plastic containers or stainless steel kids’ containers. Plastic and petroleum have been linked to hormonal shifts in the body and found in the fatty tissue of young children.
When my youngest daughter was just 8 months, the skin on her vagina began to grow together. Her pediatrician said I had two choices – remove the plastic bottles and containers from my house or use progesterone cream (commonly used for menopausal women). I went home and tossed out all the plastic and ordered glass baby bottles. I even shed the giant water bottle because they have the highest level of BPA plastic. I ordered Mountain Valley Spring water, which is delivered in large multi - gallon glass bottles. Never again have we had a problem with hormones and vaginal skin.
* Note- you don’t have to buy the glass storage containers all at once, instead, pick them up a few at a time. This is what Target is great for!
Dish Detergent & Cleaning Supplies
Here’s something to think about: we have become obsessed with killing germs but in this process we’ve replaced the germs with chemicals. When washing the dishes, we use chemical-based detergents to break down the germs in environment. So, how are they going to break down in our bodies? Bits of detergent are left on our dishes and glasses that we drink out of, no matter how hard we try to clean off the soap.
The same thing goes for cleaning supplies: we spray all kinds of things all over our houses, killing the germs but leaving behind chemical traces. The worst are air freshener sprays like Febreeze. Instead of opening a window or using an oil diffuser to freshen the space, we layer a chemical on top of the dirty rug or sofa. Our immune systems are completely inundated by chemicals so that by the time the trees bud in the spring and the grass pollen fills the air, we have had a winter of sealed-up houses that have been holding toxic chemicals inside. Our immune systems are weak and the natural pollens from outdoors are the final straw that breaks the immune system’s back – hello allergy sufferers!
Disposable Plates & Cups
I really try to avoid filling our already over full trash dumps with more waste, especially non-biodegradable. If I have to use these things then I’m sure to order online or swing by Whole Foods to pick up biodegradable picnic goods. Always reusing anything that I can. Yes, they cost a bit more but isn’t our earth worth it?
Not only are processed foods bad for our bodies but also big garbage makers. If it comes in a box, can or container these items end up in our landfills. By moving to an Ancestral diet the majority of food found in my house is in the refrigerator. I also shop in bulk for grains & beans – storing them in large glass canisters or used jars.