Microwave ovens might be slightly more energy efficient than conventional ovens, but overall, I think their convenience is overrated. Some would say microwaves are essentially for reheating. I use a toaster oven or stovetop for reheating, and it takes a couple more minutes of heating time. The food is crispier and doesn't have that odd hot-in-middle, cold-on-the-outside effect. Moreover, some also argue that microwaving breaks down the nutritional value of food.Very occasionally you'll see articles
in magazines about this issue. Since the health effects of microwaving food has not been widely examined, scientific studies are slim. One of the most quoted studies comes from Europe. In the late 1980s scientists Hans Hertel and Bernard Blanc of the Swiss Institute of Technology tested blood from subjects both before and after eating microwave-cooked food. They reported that the subjects had a decrease in all hemoglobin values as well as increases in white blood cells and cholesterol.
Hertel and Blanc concluded: "Food prepared in microwave ovens is dangerous to health and may lead to pathological changes in the blood that indicate the beginning of a cancerous process." The scientists were taken to court by the Swiss appliance industry and were convicted in 1993 of interfering with commerce. This ruling was later reversed.
There are various other small studies examining the effects of microwaves on breast milk, and those examining the effects of using radiation to heat food. This article summarizes most of these studies.
While I like electronic gadgets as much as the next guy, I decided to stop using microwave ovens earlier this year. I was surprised how easy this was to do.
[by Justin Thomas]