Microwave oven

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Many "green" people are opposed to microwave ovens, for what appears to be irrational reasons.

I once listened to someone tell me how bad microwave ovens are for your from someone who was using a cell phone! You receive at least 1,000 times the electromagnetic radiation from a cell phone as you get standing right in front of a microwave oven!

Some of this reticence appears to be due to the common saying that you "nuke" food in a microwave. In reality, electromagnetic radiation and ionizing (nuclear) radiation are very different things, with completely different physical effects.

I've also heard that microwave ovens "change the molecular structure of food". Surprise! So does traditional cooking!

Microwave ovens tend to polymerize carbohydrates. This means that chains of starches tend to link together and become longer. This is what makes microwaved pizza (or any bread) tend to get tough.

On the other hand, conventional cooking tends to de-hydrolize food. This means that it gets darker and crisper, as hydrogen is burned off.

Either method causes molecular changes. Neither change is particularly bad for you.

So why bother with a machine when a cast-iron skillet will do?

  • Microwave ovens consume vastly less energy to perform the same task.
  • Microwave ovens cook at a lower temperature, leaving more water-soluable nutrients in the food.

The first is reason enough if we are to be off-grid, dependent on non-traditional electricity sources. It can be argued that cooking with wood eliminates the need for electricity for cooking completely, but wood has its own problems, with pollution and carefully managing its sustainability.

Microwave ovens are but a tool, and should not be shunned, but used as wisely and carefully as one would any technology artifact. --Jan Steinman 12:11, 19 Aug 2005 (PDT)

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