This is your brain with a shmethical dilemma
I recently decided to stop using my Teflon-lined rice cooker because I’m finally convinced that coating isn’t something I want flaking into my food and getting into my body. I figured there are still lots of people out there who don’t mind non-stick stuff and even prefer it, so I gave my rice cooker away for free. I also gave away a set of plastic mixing bowls when I bought stainless steel ones. I figured it would save someone money and keep those things out of the landfill. But later I talked to my mom and her reaction was that I should absolutely NOT subject other people to the things I wouldn’t use myself. She’s very conscious of sustainable practices and is a big advocate of fixing things rather than throwing them away and buying new ones, and she buys a lot of second-hand stuff herself. But she was certain that my rice cooker was better off in the trash.
What do you think? Send the old stuff to the dump, or give it to people who might buy it anyway?
Frying Pan into the Fire?
Dear Frying Pain into the Fire,
This is a Jewish food blog. You know I’m going to say your mother is right.
But this being a progressive Jewish food blog, I’m going to say you are also right.
And shmethics being the tricky business that they are, I have to tell you: you’re also both wrong.
(Thanks for asking something so complicated, because that’s what any good advice column needs)
Your mother is right that if you feel a flaky Teflon pan is not healthy for you to cook with, it’s flaky ethics to give it to someone else to cook with. Whether that person knows or cares about the dangers of Teflon is irrelevant. If I find myself with half a pack of cigarettes in my possession, I wouldn’t give them to the teen I see smoking at the bus stop, no matter how deep in denial she is about the medical risks of sucking burning carcinogens into her lungs.
But you’re right to be concerned about the environmental issues raised by casting off the old as you cast iron in the new. And it’s not just the volume you might add to the landfill that should worry you. There is reasonable concern that phthalates, Bisphenol A, perflourinated chemicals and all those other goodies that are in plastics, Teflon, etc. are leaching into water and soil.
Which is why you can’t just toss your toxic kitchenware.
So what’s a smethical Jew to do?
Here’s what I did. I quarantined my nonstick cookware, dug out my collection of circa 1973 Sunset Magazines, got out the glue sticks, and came up with this crafty solution.
A Panoply of Creative Unleashed!
Panning for Crafty Gold!
Was: toxic shlock. Now: art!
So I charge you, dear readers: what’s the craftiest solution YOU can come up with for transforming a toxic former-kitchen gadget into a cool keepsake? Post your ideas! Post your pix!
And send your own ethical food questions to the shmethicist!