The kitchen really gets a workout at this time of year. Families love cooking for the holidays, and kids like to help with baking to share cookies, breads, and other treats with family, friends, and neighbors. Plus, with gift-giving season approaching, now is a good time to take stock of what you have, give away what you don’t need, and note what you’d like to add to your kitchen wish list (is anyone else hoping for a cast iron pan?).
Healthy Child Healthy World has a few tips to help you detoxify your kitchen and start safe cleaning habits. Make your kitchen a healthy place to create meals for your family.
1. Say no to plastic.
Plastic is generally toxic to produce, toxic to use, and toxic to dispose of. Some common plastics used in kitchen and household goods release harmful chemicals into our air, foods, and drinks. We can all make better choices. Choose safer alternative materials for kitchen storage and food, like glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. Look for items on grocery store shelves made without plastic or buy in bulk. If you do buy plastic, choose one that can be recycled.
2. Ditch the non-stick pans.
Non-stick pans are made with chemical coatings that are extremely toxic and persistent in the environment. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used to make Teflon, is a likely carcinogen. Similar chemicals have been linked to kidney and liver damage, as well as reproductive disorders. Although manufacturers will say it’s unlikely for the chemicals to be released, high heat can result in PFOA off-gassing from the non-stick surface. Scratched or damaged surfaces can also result in the chemical winding up in your cooked food.
There are safer alternatives for cookware and bakeware. Glass, ceramic, stainless steel, and cast iron are all options. Learn more about non-stick alternatives from our previous blog posts and this guide to safe, affordable cookware and bakeware.
3. Eat clean food.
Eating organic food is the easiest way to be sure you’re getting the very healthiest fruits, meats, and vegetables. Foods labeled “100% organic” are also free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are plant or meat products that have had their DNA altered in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria. Organic food costs more, which may limit any family’s ability to buy purely organic. To help you make good choices about which organic foods to prioritize, check out our tip sheet: Healthy Child Healthy World: 10 fruits and vegetables to buy organic.
4. Banish pesticides in your home.
Pesticides are poisons, and in most cases, their negative effects can far outweigh any positives of being rid of the pests. Pesticides have been linked to a range of health problems, including asthma, hyperactivity and behavior problems, cancer, learning disabilities, reproductive disorders, and compromised brain development. You can prevent pests in your kitchen through good sanitation and food storage habits, and by preventing their entry structurally.
5. Practice green and healthy cleaning.
To keep your kitchen sparkling but non-toxic, use green cleaners that don’t leave nasty chemicals behind on your dishes, floors, counters, or appliances. Sanitizing your kitchen to prevent bacterial contamination may require no more than an easy do-it-yourself application using hydrogen peroxide or tea tree oil. To find a green cleaner, look at the label. Avoid nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), triclosan, ammonia, chlorine bleach, DEA, TEA, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide, and sulfuric acid. You can also make your own cleaners with just a few simple ingredients.
What steps have you taken to detoxify your kitchen?