60 Minutes' Leslie Stahl interviewed Alice Waters and had breakfast in her kitchen this week. Stahl's take was that Waters lives in a parallel world because she seeks out fresh local farmers' market foods, has the luxury of a wood-fired stove to cook eggs over, and doesn't have a microwave. Stahl wondered how anyone could live without a microwave and thought $4 per pound for sustainably-grown grapes was elitist. TreeHuggers have been pondering the question of how to eat climate consciously without blowing the budget for quite some time, but does Stahl have a point? Is living without a microwave completely kooky?Ninety percent of homes have a microwave oven
According to Wikipedia, currently approximately 90 percent of U.S. homes have a microwave oven on a counter top, above the range, or somewhere else in the kitchen. Convenience, long the key to Americans' dreams, is the main reason microwaves are touted as a necessary, though redundant, appliance. But after living without for four years, I never even think about the need for one. Microwaves will be more efficient for some tasks, but that will depend on the brand and power of appliances you are using in your kitchen. And the old boiling water question? An electric kettle is generally most efficient, especially if you put in only the amount of water you actually need to heat.
Robert Ehrlich, author of The Green Kitchen, says microwaves help to decrease carbon emissions and one of the most efficient ways to cook. However, in the same Guardian article in which hErlich gave his views, the authors concluded that microwaves are best suited, not to professional chefs (which Waters definitely is) but to people at home who regularly warm up "pre-cooked or processed food." That's the rest of us, though we now that it is not as healthy for us (eating the processed food part, not the use of the microwave itself).
So microwave versus range seems one of those paper versus plastic questions that will be eternally pondered. It would be nice to see a life-cycle analysis of a kitchen with a gas or electric range versus one with the microwave! If space is an issue, perhaps an electric kettle, toaster oven and small gas range would be your best combination. If re-heating leftovers is a daily occurrence, perhaps a tiny microwave would meet your needs. In any case, deciding not to have a microwave doesn't seem like an elitist choice. But that gorgeous, open wood-burning fireplace stove? WAY over the top, Alice. Via: Cheeseslave
Read more about microwaves and Alice Waters
Book Review: The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
Microwaves versus ovens: What's the Greenest Way to Heat Your Food?
Join the TreeHugger Forum on Cellular Technology
Microwaves in the Green Kitchen: Efficient Cooking or Weird Science?