Microwave popcorn was one of the first things we revamped on our non-processed food journey. They might be convenient, but those bags of microwave popcorn are lined with chemicals that are linked to causing not only infertility but also liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in microwave popcorn bag linings as “likely” carcinogenic, and several independent studies have linked the chemical to causing tumors. Similarly, the diacetyl chemical used in the popcorn itself is linked to causing both lung damage and cancer.
Microwaved popcorn also contains trans fat. It is important to remember, even if a product declares ‘Trans Fat: 0 grams”, it can contain trans fat if one of the ingredients listed is ‘shortening’ or ‘hydrogenated oil.’ It is also important to remember that if a label says the product contains “no trans fat” or “not a significant source of trans fat” it can still contain trans fat. The FDA regulations state if the product contains less than .5 grams of any fat per serving, they are allowed to list it as 0 grams.
The following information is provided by Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research at Women’s Voices for the Earth, a nonprofit that advocates for environmental health issues that directly affect women:
The Problem: Diacetyl, a chemical used in butter flavoring, is used in a lot of fake butter flavorings, despite the fact that the chemical is so harmful to factory workers that it’s known to cause an occupational disease called “popcorn lung,” Scranton says. After news of the chemical got out to the popcorn-eating public, companies started replacing diacetyl with another additive—which can actually turn into diacetyl under certain conditions, she adds. Neither chemical is disclosed on microwave-popcorn bags because the exact formulations of flavorings are considered trade secrets. “It’s a classic example of the need for better chemical regulation and improved transparency on the chemicals used in our food and other household products,” she says.
The Solution: Make your own popcorn using real butter. Pop it on the stovetop in a pot, or go an easier route: Put a small handful of kernels into a brown paper lunch bag and stick the bag in the microwave. The kernels will pop just like those fake-butter-flavored kernels in standard microwave popcorn bags. When they’re done, pour some melted organic butter over them. “Makes pretty good popcorn at a fraction of the cost!” Scranton says. Another alternative is a hot air popper. If you want a little extra flavor you can melt ghee and pour it over the popcorn once it is popped. Alternatively, you can spray olive oil on the popcorn with an Olive Oil Sprayer and then sprinkle some salt… the olive oil will help the salt stick to the popcorn.
Elizabeth Yarnell of EffortlessEating.com stated, “At the Seeds of Doubt conference recently, Jeffery Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and GMO expert, assured us that even though almost 90% of the corn grown and eaten in this country is GMO corn, popcorn comes from a different seed and has not been genetically modified.” (Source)
Just because popcorn is not GMO does not mean you should buy any brand. Popcorn is a crop that is heavily covered in pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers, thus it is best eaten as organic. We use Arrowhead Mills Organic Popcorn, but there are other organic brands that are good too.
1. Combine the unpopped popcorn and oil in a small bowl.
2. Place the popcorn into a brown paper lunch sack, and sprinkle in the salt.
3. Fold the top of the bag over twice.
4. Cook in the microwave at full power for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until you hear pauses of about 2 seconds between pops.
5. Carefully open the bag to avoid steam.
~ Eat Healthy. Be Healthy.