words by Tess Ward

I am aware that an intolerant stance on microwaves can often be misconstrued as cooking snobbism. Before I begin, I feel compelled to say that it is not. I have no qualms about abandoning old fashioned cooking processes in favour of more practical methods. It is not in taste or texture of microwaved food that my issue lies. My beef is what really happens to the food in the process of going from tepid to torched. What black magic happens inside that glowing box? What message is it sending out to the uninspired cook.

It is not only the tool of an amateur nuking a late night Rustlers or leftover curry. It has become a tool of kitchens worldwide. Even though evidence suggests that 60-90% of the vital energy field content is lost in the nuking process, it nonetheless sits in pride of place on the counter amongst our everyday utensils and counter top tat, poised and ready to ‘cook’ the life out of our everyday dishes.

The microwave parallels the rise of obesity as an epidemic. I feel its invention is partly to blame that I see the words ‘overeating’ and ‘malnourishment’ too often assembled together in, what should be, a contradictory sentence. Its’ existence also unequivocally encourages, nothing more, then downright kitchen laziness. It is no coincidence that the popularity of the microwave has grown, whilst the regularity of evening family meals has fallen because it takes the options out from under us. It is too simple to punch a code and step back deprived of any experience between outset and conclusion. It is a secret glowing vault that discourages us from any precious moments of kitchen creativity. What we need is encouragement, not a ‘+5’ button.

Essentially the way it works is is causes waves of radiation that causes the molecules within our food to vibrate. The movement forces the water within each molecule to flip back back and forth at super speed, at an impressive 4 million time per second to be precise, thus causing heat. John Ashton discusses in, ‘The Perils of Progress: The Health and Environmental Hazards of Modern Technology and What You Can Do About Them’ that the Swiss Federal Institute of technology have proven the negative effects of the big bad box. Their research shows that microwaves change not only foods’ nutritional value, but that consuming such food has the power to make adverse changes to our bodies in the long term. They uncovered that, when microwaving milk, the dairy proteins were altered so radically by the electro magnetic wave interference, that any good nutritional properties within the milk were removed, rendering it nothing more then nutrition-less, mildly toxic, cow juice.

Perhaps now is a good time to mention that I like the other 90+ percent of the nation, own a microwave. I feel wrong, if not slightly hypocritical to leave this detail out. It sits scornfully on top of my fridge, highly neglected and pristinely unused. It is there merely for the occasion when I am ill to the point of death and cooking is an impossibility. Perhaps also to warm the odd cup of cooling soup. I have never been an avid microwave user. Somehow I was a lucky escapee. My rented housing facilities have never stretched to such amenities, and let me say how thankful I am for it. I saw too many of my university friends fall victim to its wondrous ways. Cardboard sleeve off, fork punctures through the thin plastic film, clunk onto the glass plate and boom hot food. Tempting?! I do not begrudge its use on occasions, rather I try to avoid it at all costs.

I know I am not alone in my concerns. As David Icke discusses in his article ‘Why did Russia ban the use of microwave ovens,’ a whole nation expressed the same worries at one point. One observation he makes is that ‘all other animals consume food in its natural, unprocessed state, but humans actually go out of their way to render food nutritionally worthless before eating it.’ By heating and eating in this way we might be getting the calories and the energy, but what about the phytonutrients and antioxidants that are lost in the radiation process?

The change to our food might not be clear by sight or touch but let me ask anyone that might have mistakenly put metal in the microwave (and seen those sparks fly) to just think what such volatile energy might is doing to your daily dish.

Find out more about Tess on her website: www.tessward.com or take a look at her blog: www.theyeschef.com. Or follow Tess on Twitter: @tesswardchef