Tuesday, July 19, 2011

While the Cat's Away

My husband's hobby is collecting work related frequent flier miles, so to make the best of it, the mice and I do our best to play while he's away.  Last night's adventure was an early bath and pajamas and a favorite movie with popcorn.  As I pulled out the pot and the colorful kernels, I wondered how public was the information on those deceivingly simple and convenient bags of the microwavable stuff?  They contain carcinogenic ingredients, or at least "likely carcinogens" according to a report by the FDA.  Did you know?  I had no idea until last winter, so I thought I'd share.

The chemical coating used inside of microwavable popcorn bags breaks down when heated into a substance called perflourooctanoic, or PFOA for short.  This substance is, according to the EPA, a "likely carcinogen" and in studies has been proven to cause cancer in laboratory animals.  In these studies, it is stated that it is also likely to cause cancer in humans.

Additionally, that yummy butter flavoring we love contains diacetyl and is harmful when inhaled.  In fact, in the snack industry, there is a known condition called "Popcorn Worker's Lung" (officially bronchiolitis obliterans) suffered by those in factories that produce microwave popcorn due to the extended exposure of workers to diacetyl.

The FDA is conducting additional studies on the impact of these two chemicals in small doses and so, in the meantime, microwave popcorn remains plentiful on grocery store shelves.  Because PFOA has gotten recent publicity, manufacturers are beginning to discontinue its use.  However, I couldn't continue to justify the perceived convenience when the harmful evidence is so convincing.  I've discovered that, in reality, real popcorn is no more difficult to make.  Besides, the kids love the thrill of watching the little explosions of kernels, and it tastes far superior anyway.

You'll need the following:

  • Large, deep pot.  I use my stock pot.
  • Oil (I used plain ol' vegetable oil last night since I was out of grapeseed oil.  Both are flavor neutral.)
  • Popcorn Kernels (I buy them in bulk)
  • Salt

Heat a good "glub glub glub" of oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pot) over a hot stove.  When the oil is hot, pour in your kernels.  Popcorn is big and fluffy, so a few kernels go a long way.  Go ahead and cover 1/2 to 3/4 of the bottom of the pan with kernels.  That should do it.  Put the lid on.  Give the pan a little shake every 20 seconds or so.  Within a minute or two, they should start to pop.  Continue to shake a little every now and then.  Another minute or so later, the popping will slow.  Pour into a big bowl, salt, and dig in!  Now you can enjoy your popcorn without a side of cancer.


  1. Megan bought this handy little gadget, which makes terrific popcorn in the microwave with just kernels and a little good ol' fashioned butter: http://www.thekitchenstore.com/mi25qtcopo.html

    Very easy. Very tasty. I highly recommend. -B.

  2. Mmmm, good ol' fashioned butter. I may have to get me one of those.

  3. I've seen that thing in action, and I'm thinking I'll have to write Santa about one.

  4. Interesting. I'm going to like your information.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...