Microwave mayhem

Every so often I feel compelled to write about microwave ovens and the great or small mayhem they can inflict on your body, depending on how much they are used.

I first became alerted to the dangers of this ubiquitous kitchen appliance many years ago by the late Charles Walters, founder of the venerable publication AcresUSA, the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. Walters’ advice was to take your microwave oven outside and run over it with a truck.

A recent article on the Worldtruth.tv website reminded me that it was time once again to mention just a few of the nasty aspects of the appliance that has become so indispensable in most kitchens.

* Microwaving accelerates structural disintegration of food, causing it to lose 60-90 percent of its nutritional value.

* It alters food chemistry and can lead to lymphatic malfunctioning, which weakens the body’s ability to fight against cancerous growths.

* It decreases the bioavailability of B-complex, E and C vitamins and essential minerals.

* Microwaving promotes cancerous cells in the bloodstream, and the degeneration of cellular tissues.

* It alters the catabolic behavior of plant alkaloids in raw, cooked or frozen vegetables.

* It distorts and deforms the food molecules.

* It alters many food elements and can cause serious digestive disorders.

* It promotes the proliferation of free radicals.

* It creates cancer-causing agents in milk and cereals.

Numerous studies have confirmed over the years that microwaving is not a nice thing to do to your food and your body. So…why do so many people continue to use microwave ovens?

Ignorance, for one thing, and that lovely convenience for another. And market pressure is hard to beat. Hans Hertel, of Switzerland, where several early studies were done, found that out in 1993 when he aggressively publicized extensive scientific findings on the dangers of microwave ovens. Angry Swiss appliance dealers managed to get a court gag order against Hertel.

However, in 1998 the European Court of Human Rights lifted the gag order and awarded compensation to Hertel.

Today all those studies, though ignored by many, refuse to go away and cooks in other countries are far less enamored with microwaves than Americans. Russia even banned them in 1976, but the ban was lifted in the late eighties under Gorbachev’s ‘Pestroika’ (restructuring). The Russian leader was determined to bring his country more in line with ‘progressive’ America. Nevertheless, microwave ovens are not widely used in Russian kitchens.

Those concerned about the harmful effects of microwave cooking may not want to go to the extreme of mowing down their microwave oven with a truck. But your body will thank you if you let a few cobwebs gather on it.