You Are What You Eat: Look beyond the Food

Jamie Torpy
Oct 11, 2017 · 2 min read

During the early 1800s, a French lawyer and politician known as Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin stated, “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are.” Roughly a century later, the phrase made its way to America and became the infamous “you are what you eat” still routinely chanted today. Though many believe it started out on a more existential level, numerous studies point the phrase in a very literal direction.

The Healthy Cooking Movement Came about

It’s no secret foods fried in oil are loaded with calories, fat and cholesterol. Butter, in all its delicious, heart-warming glory, adds the same potentially harmful traits. Lard has all but been abandoned because of its power to clog arteries. Still, in order to cook something in a traditional frying pan, some type of grease has to be part of the picture.

Society began to back away from the art of frying, turning instead to roasting, baking and boiling. Deliciousness ensued, but something was missing. People yearned for the crispy, soul-satisfying crunch of a skillfully breaded and pan-fried treat. Science began looking not to the method, but the means; in turn, the race to create the healthiest cookware took shape.

A Solution Was Born

Eventually, the magic of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, was discovered. When mixed with certain other ingredients, it could withstand high heat, thwart stains and hold up to submersion in water all while remaining smooth and slippery.

Non-stick coating came into existence, glazing pans and giving the world the ability to fry without a drop of butter, corn oil or bacon grease. It was advertised as the Healthiest Cookware on the market but before long, another problem came to pass.

The Tables Turned

Further studies ultimately revealed conventional non-stick coatings containing PFOA were emitting harmful gases when subjected to heat. By then, those slippery layers were flaking off in the foods being fried on them, adding yet another ugly side-effect to the mix. As it turned out, the safest cookware and the healthiest weren’t necessarily one and the same.

Times Have Changed

Today, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. New options like granite cookware are now available. They bring together the magic of frying and the beauty of not having to choose between adding unnecessary calories or chiseling food out of the pan, and they do so without potentially leading to negative health issues.

You are what you eat. With traditional pans, some of the add-ins ultimately eaten aren’t what you want to be. Taking in the byproducts of those early versions of non-stick coatings, or even the coatings themselves after repeated use, isn’t any more appealing. Fortunately, alternatives are available.

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