I recently wrote about how the pots and pans many of us use might be leaching chemicals into our food and how dangerous that can be for everything from fertility to cancer. Unfortunately that’s not where the story ends. How many of us use aluminum foil in the oven on high heat? I did for practically my whole life until I was alerted to how dangerous it is. This is yet another reminder that just because something is commonplace does not mean it’s safe.
“The aluminum in the foil can leach into food at high temperatures,” says Rachel Wyman, head baker and owner of Montclair Bread Co. “The best use of foil is for covering dishes when it will not be in direct contact with the food.”Maria Frustaci Kennedy, owner of plant based catering and food delivery service Vegan Meatballin’ adds that although our bodies release a certain amount of aluminum, we take in a lot more that we should daily. “Hormone-disrupting chemicals, heavy metals, even at any amount, NO thanks. There are plenty of other alternatives. I use my clay pans, cast iron pans, and unbleached parchment paper, which all work beautifully.
Wax paper is also problematic. “This paper is coated in wax and can not be used for baking in an oven,” says Wyman. “The wax will melt and combine with food. It should only be used for food storage or handling non-baked items like chocolates or rice krispie treats.” Wyman instead also suggests using unbleached parchment paper, which is lightly coated in silicone making it, unlike aluminum, heat resistant and non stick. “It does not require additional coating prior to use and will not transfer any chemicals or elements into food. It will however burn if exposed to direct heat, such as an open flame.”
Kennedy singles out the brand If You Care, which she uses for all her recipes and meal prep. “I want to feel good about how I maintain their flavor and freshness. I use it when baking, roasting, reheating, and wrapping. Oh and parchment paper in compostable, boom!