The Microwave Debate

There’s been a daily debate happening within our home for the past couple of months.  It’s not your typical married-couple-debate, though.  It’s more of a daily discussion where Ben and I have exactly the same arguments for and against an issue, which leads to inaction toward any solution. 

The issue: Whether or not to keep our microwave. 

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In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine a home without one of these boxes of convenience, right?  But Ben and I have made a commitment to living the healthiest lives we possibly can.  And that forces us to take a long hard look at our most utilized kitchen appliance. 

I first started thinking about our microwave usage more than four years ago, after talking with a good friend and her children about what it’s like to grow up without a microwave.  My friend, Sunnie, has four children and has never had a microwave in the home because she feels it’s unhealthy and easy to live without.  It was great to hear her kids [ranging from ages 3 to 16 at the time] debate with their mother on the issue.  The kids would say, “I wish she’d just get us a microwave so I could make popcorn after school.”  And Sunnie would reply, “all you have to do is put the kernels in a pot on the stove with some oil for a few minutes.  It’s not that hard.”

That’s what got me thinking.  She’s right.  Why is our society so caught up in instant gratification [especially when it comes to food]?  Everything we put in the microwave is for sheer convenience. That type of cooking isn’t about taste or love – it’s about saving time.  I want to be conscious and connected to everything I put into my body as nourishment [it’s the concept behind what I eat].  So why hadn’t I ever thought about that in connection to the microwave?

Alright, so back to that daily debate. 

I’ve done a bunch of research – and spoken to a few people – about the issue, and here’s my list of pros + cons for keeping the microwave: 

Pros [keep it!]:

  • Convenience.  This is my greatest argument for keeping the box.  When I feel pinched for time, being able to pop leftovers or a quick and delicious protein muffin in the microwave saves the day!  [FYI: I’m totally serious about those protein muffins being ridiculously simple + delicious; it may single-handedly save our microwave from the donation bin]. 

  • Microwaves are “greener”.  Technically speaking, microwaves use less energy than the conventional or even toaster oven [especially when you consider keeping the toaster oven on for 15 minutes for something that could take 90 seconds in the microwave].  Because there are only two of us in our home, we very rarely heat more than one serving up at a time. 

  • It makes batch cooking simpler [this may fall under ‘convenience’ as well].  You may have noticed that I’m a big fan of cooking large meals so that Ben and I have leftovers for the next couple of days (this is especially helpful to me, since I eat five small meals per day).  Having a microwave makes it so much easier to reheat food quickly and easily.  [And yes, as I type this, I realize that I’m just reiterating the first two arguments.]

  • What we eat is far more important than how we cook it.  Ben and I make a lot of our decisions based on what is good for the planet, and for people in general, which is why we are very selective about the protein we do consume [did you know that beef takes 68 times more fossil fuel to produce than potatoes?  SIXTY-EIGHT!].  Meat and dairy energy requires a tremendous amount of energy.  When we look at what we’re eating, we’re doing pretty well.  Do we really need to worry about a microwave?

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Cons [toss it!]:

  • Reconnection to source + PatienceI feel like these two go hand-in-hand.  Nowadays, we can get everything we want within minutes [if I don’t have it at home, I’ll drive to the restaurant down the street].  Is it really necessary to have my food in 90 seconds?  Or can I wait 15 minutes until it’s warmed all the way through from the outside in?  On that same note, I make an effort to be conscious about what I’m putting into my body – I really want to recognize what it is I’m fueling my life with.  Doesn’t that deserve time to sink in a bit? 

  • Microwaves destroy the cellular structure of food [source]You can read the entire article for all the details, but in essence, the microwaves radiated can change your food’s chemical composition [destroying micro-nutrients like vitamins and enzymes] into something foreign that your body can no longer recognize.  Microwaving in plastic can significantly increase negative effects.  Other amazing facts from this article: mothers are never to heat baby’s milk in a microwave because it denatures the proteins, + blood cells are actually destroyed in the microwave.  Also, do you remember when it was considered unhealthy for pregnant women to stand in front of the microwave?  Doesn’t that just make it sound sketchy to you as it is? 

  • Tossing the microwave means more planning + a higher consciousness.  I’ll need to remember to defrost frozen items in the morning and to be more present while reheating/baking. 

  • We can use our awesome convection toaster oven more often!  The toaster oven has always been Ben’s favorite kitchen appliance [he’s a huge bagel + toast kinda guy], and I’ve come to love it more and more over the years, too, as it’s so perfect for our two-person meals!  Also, maybe getting rid of the microwave will mean I can finally get my crock pot!  Did you know that they’re super energy efficient?  [That’s mainly a question for my husband.  Our house is tiny. Winking smile]

  • Better-tasting food.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve tried baking in the microwave.  Aside from the aforementioned protein muffin, I’ve never had much luck.  Things always taste better oven-or-toaster oven-baked.  [Looks like I’ll be creating an oven-baked version of that protein muffin soon.]

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When I really write it all out like that, it seems clear to me that it’s in our best interest to rid our home of the microwave.  We place so much value and importance on the food that goes into our bodies that it doesn’t make sense to have a microwave around. 

I think I’ve known that for a while – maybe Ben has too – but it’s honestly really difficult to think about living without the huge convenience.  To me, it’s even harder than it was to let go of television.  But everything seems daunting at first, right?  How will we ever know unless we do it? 

I’m going to have another discussion with Ben about it soon.  Maybe we’ll ease into the transition by first covering the microwave with a towel and seeing how we do.  Or maybe we’ll just donate the thing in one swift action.  Either way, I have a feeling this is going to take some adjusting on my part. 

Have any other pros/cons to add to the microwave list?  How do you feel about the issue? 

Aloha Pumehana. Whether you’re here to find balance, wholesome recipes or inspiration, I hope you enjoy the posts.  Please subscribe to Green Plate Dinners to receive automatic updates and be the first to read new posts for free!

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4 thoughts on “The Microwave Debate

  1. Therese says:

    I agree with all the points you’ve made about the issue. For us, however, I think we’re keeping ours simply because we actually don’t use it all that often. I only use it if I’m really, truly pinched for time. We really only use it every couple of days or so. Normally I’m good enough to plan ahead to defrost something. Usually we’ll use it to reheat leftovers instead of making a bigger mess in the kitchen by throwing it back in a pot or onto a plate and stuffing it in the oven.

    That being said, I use the microwave a heck of a lot less often than I used to now that I don’t eat as much processed food as I used to!

  2. sanoe kaaihue says:

    We dont really use the microwave in the house. I couldnt live without my toaster oven and crock pot. Whoever invented the crock pot needs his or her own national holiday haha. My verdict, keep the microwave but unplug it and keep it in a closet for a month or two and see hkw that changes things.

  3. Lauren says:

    Con: its one more thing in your kitchen. The simple life= using one thing for multiple uses. There are lots of things in your kitchen that do the job of your microwave AND many other things. Losing your microwave will save you space and make your kitchen feel even cleaner and less cluttered 🙂

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