Should you throw out your nonstick pans?


I’ve been getting lots of questions relating to the documentary Dark Waters.

For example, Dannette wrote:

“I just  watched the movie “Dark Waters” which makes the case against Teflon.  I immediately threw away my nonstick pans. I’m concerned about ALL nonstick surfaces now. I’m not sure if I need to be. I’d love it if you watched it and then let me know what you think. I love having a good nonstick pan, but it isn’t worth my family’s long term health. I just want to figure out what my best options are for being completely safe cooking for my family.”

7/5/20 UPDATE: In my original response (posted here on June 25th), I disclosed that I had not seen the movie Dark Waters.  Unfortunately, that did not keep me from making some false assumptions about it.   In response to valid criticisms, I’ve removed my original comments about the movie Dark Waters, which included some inaccuracies.  (See the comments for several thoughtful descriptions of the movie).

This doesn’t change my answer to Dannette’s question. Although I don’t personally use it, I don’t think users of modern nonstick cookware need to be concerned about chemicals leaching into their food.  But let me add some additional context:

Although PFOA persists in the environment,  it is no longer used in nonstick cookware.  And even when it was used in Teflon cookware, the primary threat was not due to exposure from use of the pans but from industrial dumping of the chemical into the water supply.

Although I’m not afraid of poisoning myself or my family by using nonstick cookware,I prefer to use stainless steel, cast iron, glass, and silicone. I use a little oil or cooking spray when necessary.  I sometimes have to clean a pan.

But the choices that we make individually about which products we use do not necessarily protect us from industrial chemicals that may be harmful to the environment in which we all live.

There are ongoing, legitimate concerns about the process by which industrial chemicals are tested and approved for safety and impact on the environment, including downstream effects on wildlife and human life.

Thank you to all who helped clarify this issue.

The problem with fake sugar

When health experts told us we were eating too much sugar, industry had an answer for us: artificial sweeteners.  All the sweetness (and then some!), none of the problems.  Only it turned out there WERE problems.

Although they don’t directly affect our blood sugar, artificial sweeteners indirectly affect our ability to metabolize sugar.  I review the latest research on this in this week’s Nutrition Diva podcast (below).

And even though artificial sweeteners don’t have any calories, they promote the growth of intestinal bacteria that are linked with obesity. (More on that in the second episode below.)

When artificial sweeteners started to seem like a bad idea, industry had an answer for us: natural non-caloric sweeteners like stevia and monkfruit.  (See also: Is stevia an artificial sweetener?)

And although they don’t seem to cause as many problems as the artificial sweeteners, they still encourage us to eat sweet foods and beverages–to the detriment of our overall diet quality. (That’s the topic of the third episode below.)

The real problem here is not that sugar is so bad for us. It’s that we want to eat it in quantities that are not good for us.

And the problem with noncaloric sweeteners (even the natural ones) is that we mistake them as a free pass to consume sweet foods and beverages in unlimited quantities.  (See also: What’s a moderate amount for noncaloric sweeteners?)

Related listening



Disruptions in the Food Supply: What to Expect

Related Listening

Connect with local growers


Learn More

Relief for America’s Small Farmer’s Act,

Food Chain Worker Alliance

Local Agricultural Marketing Program


Product Review: RIND dried fruit snacks

If you’re looking for a nutritious and shelf-stable treat to bridge the gap between grocery runs, RIND dried fruit snacks are an interesting new (to me) option to consider.

They’re available from various online and brick-and-mortar retailers.  You can also purchase them directly  from the company’s website and right now they are donating a portion of all proceeds to support Feeding America‘s Covid-19 response fund.

RIND recently sent me some of their products to sample and I was quite impressed on a few levels (and when it comes to new products and snack foods in general, I’m actually kind of hard to impress…)

There’s power in the peel

First, these are not your typical dried fruit snacks.  RIND believes in drying “the fruit, the whole fruit, and nothing but the fruit.”  That means peels and all! The result is a tangier, tarter, chewier, more grown up type of dried fruit snack.

I found the balance of sweetness, tartness, and bitterness in the dried orange, persimmon, pineapple, and kiwi much more interesting and enjoyable than bland dried apples or overly sweet banana chips.  The chewiness (which occasionally tips over into toughness) also slows you down a bit, which is useful for portion control.

Preserving the peels and rinds reduces food waste, of course, but it also substantially amps up the nutritional value. Much of the fiber of fruit is found in the peels and RIND snacks are quite a bit higher in fiber than most dried fruit– up to a quarter of the day’s requirement in a single serving.

Valuable nutrients are also often concentrated in (or right under) the peel.  When you peel apples, for example, you lose half the fiber and iron. And if you want to get the most nutrition out of your citrus fruit, don’t remove that white pith! It may be a bit bitter (some say pleasantly so).  But it’s rich in quercetin and other antioxidants.   And all of that–plus the nutrients found in the outer rind–is preserved in the RIND snacks.

RIND is a small company. (I had a couple of questions about the nutrition information and the owner called me himself to answer them).  They use all USA-grown fruit and add no sulfites, sugar, or preservatives.

If your quarantine (or post-quarantine) rations could use a little brightening up, check them out! My favorite flavors are the Tropical Blend (kiwis, pineapples, and oranges) and the Orchard Blend (peaches, apples, persimmons).

[This is not a sponsored post, by the way.  Just an honest review.]