This is my 27 year old Le Creuset pot and I. We have a long history. When I was pregnant with my son Kit, I was still living at home. I was a much-cossetted teenager living in my parents’ comfortable house. I did not want to move in with Kit’s father. Unless he bought me Le Creuset pots and pans like my Ma’s. He almost fainted there and then when he found out how much this pot cost. But 27 years and several countries later, this very same pot is still serving our family. I use it almost daily.
This pot was Made In France, it is solid and most importantly, it is made of cast iron. In my first few months at Oxford, I was the dogsbody to Dr Judith Landsberg, who was studying brain tissues of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and possible links to aluminium. Though the jury is still out as to whether aluminium contributes to Alzheimer’s, images of holes and plagues in those brain samples compelled me to throw away all my aluminium pots and pans.
Apart from aluminium pots and pans, Teflon is another silent threat in the kitchen. When it was first introduced, it was hailed as a wonder product. At last, we can now cook away happily knowing that our food will not stick to the pan. The chemicals used in Teflon (more generally referred to as highly fluorinated chemicals) were originally developed as a powerful waterproofing and anti-stick agent. The highly fluorinated chemicals that have been well-studied have been linked to high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, lower birth weight and size, lowered vaccine protection in children, obesity, hormonal changes, liver malfunction, thyroid disruption, and testicular and kidney cancer. They take a long time to break down in the body; thus, our body accumulates it (though they are eventually excreted).
It will probably take years before any links can be strongly established, but my advice is to replace where possible and more importantly, stop buying products that contain highly fluorinated chemicals (they are also bad for the environment).
As with life, opt for value and longevity, rather than cheap price, fad and convenience.
You can read more about this on Nathaniel Rich’s article in New York Times, The Lawyer Who Became Dupont’s Worst Nightmare.