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BTD Forums  /  Eat Right 4 Your Type  /  Keep aluminum microwaves in lightproof containers
Posted by: 992 (Guest), Friday, April 20, 2007, 8:08pm
Here's a quote from the FAQ that kinda rubs me sideways:

"Avoid aluminum cookery (it can contaminate your food with aluminum) and microwaves (they change the molecular structure of foods in unknown ways) for heating foods."

How can you say that a change is imposed if you can't see anything that identifies the change?  If you CAN see the change that bothers you, then don't say "unknown ways", please.  [Edit: I don't mean "see" as in casual visual inspection - I mean, see as with research microsopes and biochem lab techniques, such as would impel a scientist to make the claim in the first place.]

Microwaves, the radiation, at the frequencies employed in microwave ovens, excite molecules whose size causes them to resonate with that frequency. That is, microwaves mostly do one (or a combination) of three things when encountering matter (pretty much as light does); they:

- bounce (reflection)
- pass through unaffected - and unaffecting [see later]
- are absorbed [see later]

If they bounce, we care only to the extent that they might be bouncing toward something that could absorb them - otherwise, no big deal.

If they pass through unaffected, they also do not affect the medium through which they pass. Again, no harm, no foul.

If they are absorbed, that's where we're concerned. That's where they can do useful work or cause harm. A packet of microwave energy that impinges on a suitably sized and shaped molecule excites that molecule. That means the energy of that packet of radiation is absorbed by the molecule, which vibrates faster. That's heat.

In the case of microwave ovens, the frequency that's generated is the resonant frequency for water. That's why they picked it. It happens that some fats and other organic molecules have pieces hanging off them that are the right shape, so they too can absorb that frequency and get warmer.

Mostly what happens is that when you shine microwaves (of that frequency) onto/through food, the water in the food heats up, heating the food.

Try microwaving a dry cookie. It just sits there, barely getting warm, if that. There's little or no water in the dry cookie, so the microwaves just pass through and keep bouncing around the oven cavity until they eventually dissipate. It's almost like running the oven empty... not recommended.

So, what if some protein or fat in your food happens to have an appendage of the right shape to absorb some waves?  Well, it gets hot, as does whatever it's attached to.  Really blast it, and the resonating piece might break off, leaving a different chemical compound behind.  Sounds scary.

But wait. What if you just toss the same food in a pot, place the pot on a heating element of your stovetop, and crank up the gas or electricity?  Yep. Heat is transferred to the food. The food gets hot by conduction, convection, radiation, meaning that its molecules vibrate faster, and that increased vibrational energy is spread by contact or proximity. Chemical bonds break, new compounds form.  It's called cooking.  Great chefs are masters of encouraging and selecting such chemical reactions to make pleasing results from basic ingredients.

So, to simply say that microwaves "change the molecular structure of food" is ... well ok, I'm not going to use unkind words.

What I'm getting at is:  If that's ALL you're saying, then you haven't said anything, except to the credulous reader.  If you are saying MORE, then you should SAY MORE, such as which changes you have observed, and why you are cautioning us.

Microwave ovens have been in widespread use for 30-some years. Government and industry and academic food scientists around the world have studied the topic intensively. That includes some powerful interests that would be HAPPY to discredit microwave cookery, if they only could. If there's some insidious, pernicious effect, you'd think it would have come to light. If such an effect exists, then either the searchers are incompetent, in which case you go with what info you have, not what you imagine, or the researchers (or their faceless corporate/CIA bosses) are covering up. Darn good coverup, with no leaks in a third of a century.

If you simply suspect a bad effect, but can't quite prove it, then the choice is whether to pursue a scientific inquiry into it. What might motivate you to put your time and energy into such work, possibly at the expense of other food-related inquiry that you are currently pursuing?  Well, how about the statistics for how many people own and use microwaves? If there's a problem, then it's more widespread than cigarettes.  What more motivation could be needed? If microwaving of food inside microwave ovens is inherently dangerous, then proving it would have more benefit than seatbelts in cars! You could hardly imagine a more cost-effective food-related line of inquiry. You'd save millions of lives and billions of health-care dollars. Whew!

Yes, I realize that asking such questions can be seen in negative fashion. But what is served by ignoring them? Better yet, what is served by answering them? If you answer a question in calm, reasoned manner, especially if you can refute the premise of the question, then you strengthen your position and remove an area of doubt. You also allow people to concentrate their inquiries elsewhere.
You lesson confusion and distraction.

By the way, after searching this site for references to "microwave", I visited the Chet Day site.... and nearly choked on my green tea. Good thing it wasn't too hot when it went through my nose...
What a load of horse-pucky, half-truths and innunendos.  It takes, what... about a 102 IQ to read that stuff and pick holes in it? So, a large number of the humans who encounter it are going to swallow it whole.  Sigh.

Kevin (still mopping his keyboard)

DISCLAIMER: I have a significant interest in the microwave industry that might warp my judgement - I own a Sanyo 0.7 and an LG 2.0 cubic foot oven.  Woohoo.  What, you thought I was going to admit to being chairman of Sony Corporation or something?

Posted by: Vicki, Friday, April 20, 2007, 10:31pm; Reply: 1
I will not use a microwave oven anymore but here is some information that you may find supportive of your view:
Posted by: Lola, Friday, April 20, 2007, 10:56pm; Reply: 2,m=1167170022,m=1165756772,m=1164390423,m=1163087851
Posted by: ABJoe, Friday, April 20, 2007, 11:38pm; Reply: 3
This is the most explanatory article that I have found on hazards of using a microwave for cooking.
Posted by: Schluggell, Sunday, April 22, 2007, 6:35am; Reply: 4
Put simply: Food cooked in a microwave tastes lowsy.

Its amazing how clean the Aluminium Pot gets when you cook Tomato Sauce. ::)

Ever cook seafood in the pot with wine and notice the marketedly metallic zing to the flavour and how black the sauce is?
Posted by: 992 (Guest), Monday, April 23, 2007, 12:35pm; Reply: 5
Quoted from Schluggell
Put simply: Food cooked in a microwave tastes lowsy.

Perhaps. You normally don't sear (carbonize) food in a microwave oven, as you would in a pan or over a flame (BBQ grill). That's what imparts much of the flavor.

I always sear a slab of meat before placing it in a slow oven to roast - delicious AND tender.

Or perhaps it's the texture of many items that bothers you, because you aren't stirring the warming food constantly, as you would in a pot.

On the other hand, most people use microwave ovens to thaw/re-heat food, not to cook it.

On a separate note, my brother was in the restaurant-equipment supply biz for a few years. He introduced me to induction heating elements.  Cool!
Betcha there are horror stories about them, too.


Posted by: Schluggell, Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 7:53am; Reply: 6
Reheating is one thing - But I still say anything I've ever had cooked in a microwave tastes lowsy.

In the days of yore microwaves were used instead of heat lamps - Ever guess why the oven was finally made?

And yes there maybe issues found with the Induction types - but the safety and control will mostly outweigh their issues.

Now, for the Halogen Cooktops....
Posted by: italybound, Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 1:14pm; Reply: 7
Quoted from Vicki
I will not use a microwave oven anymore but here is some information that you may find supportive of your view:

Very disturbing article.  >:(  I had already been decreasing my microwave usage, but after reading this article, I'll be out buying a toater oven or 2.   I'm sure when I get done w/ the other articles, I'll be thoroughly convinced not to ever use one again. Funny, years ago, my mom swore she would never have or use one. Like many, the convenience won over. Now I wonder how much it has to do w/ her present state of health.  :-/
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