The Teflon-Coated Catch 22 of Kitchen Tools
It’s always scary for a green-minded parent when something sneaks up on you: the realization that your penchant for antique furniture could mean flaking lead paint or that your favorite brand isn’t as eco-friendly as you thought.
I had such an unwelcome epiphany last week during a Twitter party about healthy home parties. I’m not sure how it came about, but in the discussion of safer barbequing I had a sudden realization: my George Foreman grill is definitely coated in peeling Teflon. As was my entire 10-year-old knife set, peeling off a black nonstick coating I had somehow never noticed. What was I thinking?
OK. The Foreman grill is antiquated anyway and I could get the same results with a cast iron grill pan. I am also past due for a new stainless steel knife set. But wait, where else might Teflon be hiding in my kitchen. Oh, no. Don’t tell me. My beloved breadmaker??
Of course. How else could a baking pan be non-stick? It had to be some kind of Teflon-esque chemical! So what do I do? Do I try to justify with the fact that store bought bread could be baked in worse? Or do I just use my machine for the kneading process and add the extra step of letting it rise on the counter and then transferring the baking to an energy-sucking oven. This was supposed to be simple living!
So I first called Oster to see if the coating was, in fact, Teflon. Turns out it’s not, however it is some chemical base called “CCC Daikin Coating and Shin Tek Coating.” A Google search on those provides nothing but the chemical Web sites, which says that in Daikin’s case, it intend to stop manufacturing, using, and selling Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) products by the end of 2012. My breadmaker was manufactured in 2009.
In any case, the jury is still out on all those “green” non-stick cooking substitutes. With names like “Green Pan,” “Earth Pan,” and (God help me) “Orgreenic,” one would think they have to be safe, right? Well I probably should have done a bit more research before I bought those up as it’s entirely possible they aren’t much better than their counterparts.
So I gave the oven baking a try and it wasn’t too much of a hassle. I found a random piece of stoneware in my cabinet that was a decent shape for baking the bread (40 min. at 350 degrees), and it actually turned out extra crunchy and tasty!
I’m still not sure if it’s worthwhile to take the extra step. I think the breadmaker only heats to about 375 degrees, and experts say that these non stick coatings mostly leach at higher temperatures. I also handwash the pan so it doesn’t have any nicks.
What would you do? How do you deal with the hidden chemicals in the tools that are supposed to make homesteading a little easier?