Friday, October 1, 2010

Pardon me, do you have any WTF?

In all honesty, I can be convinced of a lot of ... alternative theories.  I read my horoscope sometimes; I definitely believe in feng shui; I'd probably go to a tarot card reader (if you went with me); and I would even visit an herberia but I don't really speak Voodoo Spanish.  So anyway, my point is, I'm willing to at least try and believe.

And there is this blogger I really like named Jules.  She had a guest post here about her favorite "crazy hippie" foods like Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, which I like, and coconut vinegar, which is certainly intriguing.  And then she talked smack about microwave popcorn, which I can understand, because that stuff in the bags leaves a weird film in your mouth, and that ... probably is not something food should do, I think.  

But in the comments of that post she revealed that she has an objection to using the microwave for anything because it "changes the structure of the food."  And here's where I say, "Wait... what?"  What does that mean that it "changes the structure of the food?"  

I am a dunce who never even took chemistry.  My baby sister took pity on me 4-5 years ago and finally explained the difference between a physical change and a chemical change.  [I distinctly remember missing that on a test, but I never found out what the right answer was.]  And Uncle John still does not believe that I don't know what a meniscus is in measuring, but I swear I don't know what he's talking about.  As far as I know, a meniscus is a kneecap, and a mole is an adventurous little creature from that charming book by Mr Grahame.

So it's possible that microwaving "changes the structure of the food" in a bad way, as opposed to just, you know, making it hot.  That would be a tremendous disappointment to me, because I loooove my microwave almost as much as I love my slow cooker.  Which is to say, far more than I love either of my children, with air conditioning following just behind.

I mean, just think of all the wonderful things the microwave can do for you.  I would personally dedicate three cubic feet of kitchen space to a chocolate melter alone, but the microwave does so much more.  Water for tea!  Popcorn -- the real kind! Bacon! Oatmeal! Crudites! Leftover soup! Potatoes for mashing! Rice! Pasta!  [Hell yes, that thing works.]

So please tell me I can keep it.  How much of this "structure changing" is just normal, and do I really need to sweat this?  It sounds kinda bogus, but Jules is 100X smarter than I am, so I'm willing to believe.  It's not going to make the children any more addled, is it? Anyone?


  1. Okay, I'm not a science person, but I'm a teacher at a science and technology school, and my cubicle neighbor is a physics guy. He assures me that all a microwave does is get molecules to move at higher frequencies, which creates heat from the movement. Because food contains a high degree of moisture, the water in it is excited too, so you get steam. And, in the case of popcorn, explosions. No matter changed. Molecules excited then become molecules at rest. You may go for a jog, but when you calm down, you're still you.

  2. I always did like you, Bacon. Many thanks!

  3. Well, hello there. :)

    If you Google the dangers of microwave use, you will find 20299334 sources that say they change the molecular structure of the food.

    You will also find 20299334 sources that say microwaves DO NOT change the molecular structure of food.

    I don't think anyone really knows the definitive answer, but Mr. Bacon has the mechanics of it down right...even though you will find disputes on whether this process changes matter. (People have argued for years over whether a seed can germinate in a glass of microwaved water.)

    Same thing goes for the argument that microwaves destroy nutrients in food. In actuality, all cooking destroys nutrients in varying degrees.

    Some papers came out of Standford and there was at least one study in The Lancet that are favorite sources among the anti-microwave crowd, but who knows. I took a class in law school (required) with a section called "How to get statistics to tell you anything you want." So, there you go.

    My feeling is this: since the jury is out, I'll stick with radiant heat for most everything except tortillas. And not just because education has taught me to trust nothing. ;) I just prefer that method. All the things you use the microwave for (popcorn, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, soup, etc.) I heat up on the stove. Except bacon--that I do in the oven.

    For me, the stove/oven is faster...but that may be because my microwave sucks. The only thing it heats up are my plates-- to the point they craze and crack.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to fix myself a snack of chia seeds.

    Kidding. I hate chia seeds.

    (But they are a good source of Omega-3) ;)


  4. Thank you, Jules, for the clarification. I took a similar class in undergrad, so I am not easily swayed by "studies." I'd heard that about the microwave before, but never from anyone I would consider a generally reliable source (such as yourself).

    The reason I heart my microwave so much is because I really hate the thought of heating up my house with the oven or stove while also COOLING the house with the a/c. This applies in Houston about 6 months of the year. I think the microwave is the smart green/frugal thing to do, actually, and I wish it got more positive attention for this instead of negative attention for some alleged bad stuff it can do.

  5. I never looked at it from a green perspective. That's something to consider, since I live in an area of so-Cal that rivals Texas for heat. (We don't get cold weather until November/December.) Most of the time we grill outside and I'll make a salad. It gets old.

  6. What about Jello? I always love making jello-
    I myself am and old fashioned pop-corn lover!
    On the stove!
    Thanks for your recent comment.

  7. Okay, it only occurred to me a few minutes ago that when I posted a comment here someone might have responded to that comment. So, I come skipping over to see, and find that Jules and Mamacita just SPOKE TO ME. I've been reading both of your blogs for quite some time now. (As a lurker, Francis Bacon doesn't like the limelight.) So, I essentially feel like Joss Whedon and Mick Jagger both just called me to say, "hey." (Two other people I like a lot, btw.) Francis Bacon is grateful for the internet. :)

  8. I don't have much of an opinion about what a microwave does to my food, but then I don't own or use one so not something I have much had to ponder. I did want to say that I found your blog through my brother's (10engines) and have been laughing my *** off at this post. Hilarious. Thanks