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GREEN SPACE: In praise of cast iron

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This is not the first Green Space recommending that its readers go back to basics -- like using baking soda for cleaning and cloth bags for grocery shopping -- and it won't be the last.

This time, we're taking on the mighty Teflon. When discovered in the 1940's, it was touted as a non-stick alternative to old cooking standbys. But after all these years, people are turning a 180 and heading right back to cast iron.

It's been around forever and there's good reason for that. It heats evenly, can add a healthy dosage of iron to food, it's cheap and, subjectively, it makes things taste good.

On the environmental tip it is good as well: it is completely recyclable and, even better, it lasts so long you'll probably never need to. Heirloom cookware anybody?

Also, if you're one to (rightfully) fret about carcinogens in everyday items, the Environmental Working Group has studies that show that PTFE (polytetrafluoroethene), the chemical that makes Teflon coating, can begin to release carcinogens when heated. Kind of a problem for something that will literally be sitting on a hotplate for many of its hours.

Some teflon tips: After an initial cleaning, don't use soap on a cast iron pan. Hot water and a plastic scrub brush will do the job. Season the pan after you buy it with a thin layer of oil, then bake it in. You're now good to go for a long, long time.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
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