Let’s be honest is a Food Circle project to open up the conversation about the challenges when being or becoming a member of the SC (Sustainability Club). This series will shine a light on the different approaches to making life more sustainable and the step-backs and difficulties that arise. Being more kind and understanding, instead of critical, will hopefully help to encourage us to try instead of giving up when facing a step-back or failure. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the world, creating a uniquely multicultural environment.
Let’s celebrate the achievements and give room for honesty and struggles!
Gas or Induction?
Many of us around the world are used to cooking with gas stoves. They are the common cooking method that many of us deem superior because gas companies paid a lot of money to convince us so , and, in some US states, going as far as passing preemption laws that prohibit the banning of natural gas in new buildings . Their claims can be disputed. Using an open flame for cooking in one’s home has many disadvantages. Gas stoves emit high amounts of pollutants that considerably damage the indoor air quality. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a toxic gas that is emitted by these stoves. According to the EPA, if exposed to “air with high concentrations of NO2 [it] can lead to coughing and wheezing for people with…respiratory issues,” and longer exposure can even add to developing these health problems . Additionally, gas stoves leak small amounts of methane into the atmosphere even when they are turned off , notwithstanding the fact that the very extraction of natural gas accidentally leaks pollutants into the air from pipelines and fracking .
However, we still prefer gas stoves over alternatives because we are holding onto old notions that they are faster and more efficient. While this is true if they are compared to traditional electric coil stoves, which are slow, inefficient, and overall inconvenient, it is indeed false when compared to the more recent technology of induction stoves. The induction stove was nothing but a concept at the start of the 20th century. Its production started in the US in the 1970s, and the technology has only gotten better since. Induction stoves use electromagnetic energy as the source of heat, which means that the surface itself does not get hot and it instead directly heats the cookware, unlike gas and electric stoves, making it significantly safer . What's more, induction stoves work much faster and heat up pots in a matter of seconds. As a result, it uses less energy and most of the heat created is directly transferred to the pot . Also, the heat in induction stoves is easier to manage and adjust, as it can go from boiling to simmering in a few seconds, and they are much easier to clean .
There are a few disadvantages, however, that should be accounted for. For one thing, only certain types of cookware will be suitable for the induction cooking process to actually work. This includes stainless steel and cast iron, and excludes aluminum and copper. A way to check if the cookware is appropriate, use a magnet. If the magnet sticks, it's suitable. Another disadvantage is the high price when compared to traditional gas stoves and, depending on where you live, it could notably spike up the electricity bill. It can also take some time getting used. The induction stove is unique and relatively new technology, knowing its ins and outs may be helpful in prepping ahead of time.
Gas stoves are clearly not the environmentally cleaner option for cooking, neither are they the safest when it comes to the air quality in our homes. While induction stoves are more expensive, the long term effects on our health will surely counterbalance that cost. This decision, ultimately, is personal, though perhaps not for long if more cities around the world being or continue to build no-gas buildings and houses for a greener future. Still, it is important for us to be aware of the disadvantages and health concerns when it comes to something that we use on a daily basis and make the conscious decision from the knowledge we acquire.
Author: Rima Qayed
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