Some people have no use for microwave ovens. I’m old enough to remember when they first came out. Many were hesitant to use them at the time, but since then most kitchens include them right along with stoves and refrigerators. Still, there are “expert” voices that say, if you must use them, run as far away from them as you can while they are on. Not only that, but apparently the microwaves do something to alter the food, and not for the better.
But I only want to reheat my coffee without needing to wash a saucepan; or left-overs, or a cup of soup, or even my husbands hot packs. Will I glow in the dark if I stay in the kitchen while it’s running?
So I turned to Dr. Greger, at www.nutritionfacts.org ,who researches the research. He has no preference which way the data blows and he sells nothing. He combed through Pub Med, which is an archive of peer-reviewed studies, and found some dangers with microwave ovens. But not what you would expect.
Hurting your back while lifting one onto your counter. Don’t drop it on your foot or fall onto it. (I’m a major klutz, but I haven’t yet fallen onto the thing.) I was surprised to learn many folks have been harmed by consuming food that feels warm on the outside but is scalding on the inside. He cited incidences of exploding eggs. Even though that seems quirky, it is a common hazard, and worth a mention. I can see myself doing this.
The eggshell is hard, but the yolk is liquid. The yolk overheats while the shell remains warm, and the egg white looks innocent enough. But stab or cut into that yolk, it can explode into your face or eyes faster than you can blink. He goes into this in graphic detail in his video at https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-microwaves-safe/
What About Radiation?
I usually turn on the microwave oven and find something to do somewhere else, or on the other side of the kitchen, until it dings. I was surprised to learn from his podcast (halfway mark after he talks about the exploding eggs again), that if the oven is working properly, it will not irradiate its surroundings or people. Now if it continues to work once the door is opened, that is a malfunction and could increase radiation exposure. https://nutritionfacts.org/audio/radiation-and-microwaves/
I could not find any videos, podcasts, or blogs about how microwaves affect food at his site. However, while noodling around nutriotionfacts.org (it’s addictive!) I discovered this video about BPA hazards in cans and plastics.
Cliff Note: the substitutes for BPA can be as bad or worse. He recommends using glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers instead. Buy frozen, not canned veggies. If you do use plastic containers, do not use them if scratched and don’t put them in the dishwasher.
To keep things cost-effective and save shelf/fridge space, I keep glass jars, say from Italian sauce, jellies, etc. and use them and their lids to preserve food. Some are even freezer safe. You will find out the hard way which ones are. I could go hard-core and “can” my own veggies in sterilized jars, but then I’d worry about botulism.
For now, I’ll use my microwave oven with less concern. You may feel differently, but at least you know about those exploding eggs.
If you use a plastic soft boiled egg device for a microwave, remember to poke the yolk with a pin or it will explode. I’ve been there and done that.