Monday, September 1, 2008

More Deadly Metals - Letter to Wise Traditions newsletter

The excellent and informative Deadly Metals solidified my recent concern that my health problems arise from toxic levels of metals. The recommendation to limit wearing jewelry to special occasions for sensitive individuals, concerned me, since there is something far more insidious in my home. What are good replacements for stainless steel utensils, flatware, and cutlery? These are all used multiple times a day and for the most part are all stainless steel and mostly of low quality stainless.

I did a search to determine if our Revereware and Farberware cookware were type 316 stainless. And found, with very limited results, that most, if not all, stainless cookware is likely type 316. That likely isn't true, though, for most utensils, flatware, or cutlery, or as the article pointed out, stainless food storage containers. I can avoid salting cooking food to avoid the stainless leaching combination of acid and salt, but I definitely salt before eating the same hot food with a fork. And to make matters worse, I have been using that same fork to stir in the pans, which likely causes a breakdown of both the fork and the pan into the food.

I've been trying to figure out good substitutes for the things I use regularly. No problem changing the stainless mixing bowl over to a glass one. And I enjoyed the increased dietary iron from changing the fry pan over to cast iron. But from there trying to get possible toxins out of the kitchen gets more difficult and expensive.One of the recommendations for cookware was titanium, but it is unlikely unalloyed. And from my limited research titanium oxidizes into titanium dioxide, the known carcinogen from personal products. Of course, the source of those oxides may make all the difference. But I found titanium jewelry costly, so unalloyed cookware should prove out of reach.

It seems there is no currently-known health concern from silicone spatulas and cookware, so that replaces the fork used to stir food. But replacing the fork isn't so easy. The only readily available flatware other than stainless is plastic, specifically Lexan and polystyrene. Both those plastics are thought to cause health problems, hormone disruption from Lexan and possible cancer from styrene leaching into hot foods. That leaves no good choices, and yet we need to have utensils. Although I have eaten with cultures that use their hands! There's alloyed titanium or Chinese laminated bamboo flatware, but these have their problems too. I don't know the good solution here.

Since trying to replace these items, new metallic ones have come to my attention. I use standard Bell or Kerr canning jars for everything, including beet kvass. The metal of the lids breaks down with each batch and gets ingested. I've since replaced the lids with plastic, of unknown composition, due to concerns over the alloys used. The only information I could find on the alloys came from a book of manufacturing on Google indicating that canning jars are "wrought" and may be of three types of alloys: zinc-copper, zinc-titanium, or zinc-lead-cadmium. And yesterday when filtering some mold out of aloe vera, my steel, stainless?, filter leached badly. This will need replacing, with nylon?, as well as my colander. Then there's cookie sheets, etc. The list goes on.

What are the good substitutions here? And how effective can we be? But, of course, the less we use, the less toxins we absorb.

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