I don’t own a microwave oven anymore. In the modern world that may seem crazy. But I’m going to present you with 10 reasons to get rid of your microwave. And I’ve also written a companion piece to this article with a list of ways to survive without your microwave oven.

How did I end up getting rid of my microwave? Well, a few years ago I was mopping my kitchen floor and I put a few small appliances outside that were in my way. I had a wooden cabinet that held my microwave oven and my juicer. I put them both outside and left them there while the floor dried. I then forgot about them and went to bed. I was living in L.A. at the time so normally that wouldn’t matter. But uncharacteristically for southern California, it rained overnight.

In the morning I found my microwave and my juicer completely soaked. I promptly threw them both away. I rarely used the juicer because it was difficult to clean. But I had gotten used to using the microwave to defrost meat, to soften butter, to cook vegetables, or to make the occasional bag of popcorn.

I never replaced either item and have never missed them.

Getting rid of my microwave oven has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I had gotten used to the quick convenience of a microwave oven, but without it I learned to take a little more time to prepare and cook my food. If you are a frequent reader of my website, you know that I am all about slow living and Mediterranean eating. Quick, microwaved cooking no longer fits in with my newly adopted Mediterranean lifestyle.

I’ve been reading about the health risks associated with microwave ovens. Here are some scary things I’ve learned about microwave cooking.

Lack of Nutrition

  • Microwaving reduces nutrients in food. In some foods, like broccoli, the nutrients can be reduced by as much as 97% by microwave cooking. Microwaving garlic for only 30 seconds can destroy all of its cancer-fighting properties.
  • Food sold as microwave-specific meals are full of highly processed ingredients that have been developed to heat quickly in a microwave. They lack nutrients, are full of harmful additives, and generally taste lousy.
  • Microwave ovens work by rapidly heating up the water molecules in food. They often cook unevenly, so you end up with very hot spots and lukewarm-to-cold spots. The reason we cook food is to kill the microbes lurking within. Uneven microwave cooking doesn’t combat all of these microbes and you can end up with bacteria.

Harmful Effects

  • Microwaves emit radiation into the home. There is some disagreement about what is a safe level of radiation. But make no mistake, radiation does leak from a microwave oven. This is particularly a problem with older microwave ovens, even when not in use.
  • The plastic containers used to heat microwave meals have been found to release toxic chemicals, such as BPA (Bisphenol A), PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), benzene, and xylene, into the food. These carcinogens are then absorbed into the body.
  • Most varieties of microwave popcorn come in a bag that contains a chemical listed by the EPA as a carcinogen. The bags are lined with PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) which is the same toxic chemical found in teflon pans. It stays in the human body for a long period of time and has been linked to infertility, cancer, thyroid toxicity and memory loss.
  • Microwaves can change your heart rate. The effects of the 2.4 GH radiation produced by microwave ovens can instantly affect your body. Studies have shown that the levels of radiation emitted by a microwave can affect your heart rate and heart rate variability.

Food Tastes Better When Cooked Slowly

  • The fast cooking of a microwave oven doesn’t allow time for flavors to meld together. Cooking slow and at a lower temperature preserves and enriches flavors in food.
  • The texture of food is not the same when cooked in a microwave oven. For example, baked potatoes are lighter and fluffier when cooked in a conventional oven. When microwaved, potatoes feel denser. Vegetables can turn to mush, and bread becomes chewy.
  • Taking time to cook and eat is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s not just the foods we eat that lead to a happy life. It’s the prep time and the physical act of preparing it. You should take time to cook and eat. Microwave ovens promote a quick-eating lifestyle which is counter to everything pleasurable and healthy about mealtime.

Microwaves may save time, but if your foods lack nutrition, flavor, and safety, then it is not worth the few extra minutes. It doesn’t take that long to cook dinner if you allow a little prep time. The slower lifestyle has been proven to contribute to a happier, longer life. It’s part of the Mediterranean lifestyle that I teach here and in my coaching programs.

If you want some easy ideas on how to cook without using a microwave oven, I’ve written a companion piece to this article that outlines how to get back to real cooking without a lot of fuss. Click here to read Alternatives to Microwave Cooking.