My family had a room at The Family House on UCSF campus for 11 months. First, Chris and I lived there with Reese and Quinn. Then, Chris and my mom lived there, at different times, while Reese was neutropenic. And then for 10 months, some combination (that always included Quinn and Claire) and my husband, my parents, myself, Reese, and my mother-in-law Jeanette lived in our little room. Incredible life lessons were learned on this journey, the most impactful being that at the end of the day, we are all just the same. When you are vulnerable and stripped to the most basic need, the love of your family, there are no differences to be seen.
During these months, we shared a kitchen with about 10 other families. There were two ovens, we all had a mini-fridge, and the Family House supplied all the cookware, plates, utensils, etc.
This story is going to take a turn that you are not expecting. While I could write about the magnitude of incredibleness that is The Family House for pages, that is not what this post is about.
Stainless Steel Eggs
As a family that commonly cooks up eggs in the morning, we immediately noticed that the Family House pans were stainless steel. This sticks out in my memory because we made a mess each morning (anyone who has made scrambled eggs with stainless steel knows what I am talking about.) I found myself looking throughout the house for a non-stick pan, and there were none to be found. Months later, the Family House did a whole turnover of all of the kitchenware. Volunteers came in and switched everything out. That night, when I went into the kitchen, I immediately checked to see if all of the pans were still stainless steel. They were, so I knew it was intentional. So I asked one of the managers, why don’t you have any non-stick pans here? His answer was interesting. We can’t control every user of our pans, and someone might heat it too hot or use it incorrectly. That makes sense.
My Wedding Registry
Nine years ago, I registered for Calphalon non-stick pans. I loved these pans, and if you know me, you know that I pride myself on cooking big dinners every night. I knew that it was bad to use these pans if they became damaged or scratched. When we returned from California, I went through everything and threw away each pan that had scratches. Santa knew about this, so for Christmas this year I got a brand new set of pots and pans. Teflon.
Like I said above, the words I heard at The Family House stuck with me. So when Reese became a “normal kid” again (insert the greatest cheering in the world here!!), and I began to focus my energy on ridding my home of carcinogens, this came to mind. “Use it incorrectly.” But what did he mean, exactly? This is where I began my research.
What is Teflon?
In years prior, Teflon got a bad name. Prior to 2013, most non-stick cookware had a PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) coating marketed under the brand name of Teflon. While PTFE is not known to cause cancer, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is used to make PTFE coating, is considered a carcinogen.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launced the PFOA Stewardship Program and this spurred the elimination of PFOA from Teflon products. This program involved eight leading PFOA companies, including the maker of Teflon. All companies met the program targets, so all Teflon products, including nonstick cookware, have been PFOA-free since 2013.
Do you have Teflon pots and pans dating prior to 2013? I have a few left that I will be replacing. Stainless steel is a great option for many things, and so is Green Pan. If you decide to go the Teflon route, you want to take care of it, it’s important not to damage the coating. Once that layer is gone, your non-stick pan is, well, a stick pan. You have to use the proper utensils (you know that metal spoon you use to stir noodles, over and over? That is a big problem. Trade it in for wood.) Being mindful of scratching and overheating your pans is also the way to make your non-stick pans safer. I believe that this is what the gentleman I mentioned above was alluding to.
There’s another alternative to Teflon that I am a big fan of.
The Iron Skillet
My iron skillet is my baby. It is well-seasoned and passed down to me from my dad. I never wash it with soap… after I cook I boil water and then lightly scrub with sea salt. Add a little olive oil, voila. (There are tons of blogs with great ways to clean and keep a safe iron skillet.) I’ve been using it at least three times a week. Here’s another really great thing about iron skillets- there is a huge price range! Of course, you get what you pay for, so do a little research on the brand you chose, but this purchase does NOT need to break the bank.
I’m sharing more about my carcinogen-product-hunt on my Instagram page and FaceBook page (see below). Thank you to everyone who is joining me on this journey, I am learning so much from YOU. And I’m making my household safer, one product at a time.