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4 Types of Nontoxic, Eco-Friendly Cookware That's Safe for You and Your Family

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Ceramor

Chances are, you probably own at least one piece of Teflon or other type of toxic non-stick cookware. "Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called 'Teflon Flu' or, as scientists describe it, 'Polymer fume fever')," according to Environmental Working Group.

From sauce pans to baking sheets and muffin tins, cooking products with finishes made of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that leach toxins remain the mainstay in many homes across the country. It is a long and costly process for eco-conscious consumers to switch completely from cookware coated with toxic finishes to those that are nontoxic. Do it one step at a time: take inventory of the Teflon and non-stick items in your kitchen, and replace each item with a nontoxic version throughout the year. Keep a list at hand of the following nontoxic products and brands below when shopping for eco-friendly replacements.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a must-have in the kitchen when it comes to boiling, sautéing and baking. Pans made out of this non-toxic metal retain heat so smaller baked items tend to cook evenly. Stainless steel is also easy to clean; scrubbing pans down with steel wool will keep layers of oil from accumulating on the surface. A number of companies are now making solid stainless steel cooking products without PFCs. All Clad makes an extensive collection of high quality stainless steel pots and pans, including roasters, griddles and even a lasagna pan. Fox Run sells a range of stainless steel bakeware at affordable prices, such as muffin tins and baking sheets.

Glass

Glass is totally eco-friendly, nontoxic and durable—a great material to choose when stocking your kitchen with chemical-free cookware. However, you can't use glass pans for everything—certain items like baking tins are hard to find in glass, and some dishes like pies don't always cook evenly in glassware. Glass pans generally work best for savory dishes such as pot pies, baked pasta and quick breads. Some excellent brands include beautifully crafted pieces by Emile Henry, and more affordable pans by Pyrex.

Ceramic

Ceramic is an organic material that has been used for baking dating back to ancient cultures. Today, you can find nicely made ceramic bake and cookware in a variety of colors. Ceramor sells many types of ceramic cookware, including a line of a high quality line of black coated bakeware called Xtrema. Le Creuset makes a wide array of items in numerous styles and colors that are reasonably priced and often carried by large retailers.

Green Non-Stick Cookware

Several businesses have developed new technologies to provide the convenience of nonstick to cook and bakeware without PFCs or other types of toxic coating. One company, Green Pan, uses a patented technology called Thermolon to make their pans non-stick and heat resistant up to high temperatures. Orgreenic makes similar products that have aluminum bases and special coatings made of a combination of ceramic and a newly-developed nonstick material that is apparently eco-friendly.

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The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.

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On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said nearly 60 percent of the state was abnormally dry, up from 46 percent just last week, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.

The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.

"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.

Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.

"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.

As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.

"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.

The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."

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