Microwave Popcorn – Are you sure you want to do that?

Popcorn is one of our favorite snacks, and who can resist the buttery aroma of freshly popped corn at the movie theatre? Popcorn is a healthy treat. It’s good for the elimination what with all the fiber, and isn’t sweet so won’t damage your teeth. But I’m not so sure about microwave popcorn.

I’m not so sure about microwave anything. I don’t own one, and do quite fine without it. But microwave popcorn in particular has gotten some negative publicity lately.

The inside of microwave popcorn bags is coated with a chemical that prevents the bag from disintegrating into a soggy mess while doing said popping. I don’t like the sound of that. When these chemicals are heated, a compound called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is produced. According to the EPA, PFOE is a carcinogen.

See the letters “fluor” in that name? Yep, it has fluoride in it – and in a few weeks you’ll learn on this show (although you probably know already!) why we don’t want to eat fluoride. PFOA also happens to be an ingredient in Teflon pans, something else I bet you’ve retired the use of.

I even heard tell of some popcorn factory workers becoming ill with respiratory diseases when exposed to the “buttery flavor” ingredient (which sounds pretty mysterious to me). The chemical used for artificial butter flavor is Diacetyl, and word has it that 54 of these workers settled out of court. I’m sure they got a nice chunk of change, but what about the rest of us?

You would rather use real organic butter than some mystery “buttery flavor” mishmash, wouldn’t you? I’m sure you make it a point to stay away from artificial flavors too. The FDA says that only a minimal amount of PFOA makes it into the popped corn, but we know about the FDA don’t we? Most brands of microwave popcorn contain trans fats, something we should all avoid like the plague. Interestingly, even some products labeled “trans fat free” are lying – they can have small amounts of trans fats (under 0.5 gram per serving) and claim “zero” on the nutrition facts.

Way to tell the truth, huh?

A few companies have come out with “natural” microwave popcorn, like Newman’s Own, which uses palm oil instead of fake fats. Their website also claims their corn has no added Diacetyl, but still. Another issue with microwave popcorn has nothing to do with your health, but with the waste created by the packaging.

Microwave popcorn is a metaphor for what’s wrong with the world: We want convenient, disposable, ultra fast products at the expense of our own health.

I have never owned a microwave oven, so I’ve always enjoyed popcorn the old fashioned way. Making it is half the fun!


Make Real Old Fashioned Popcorn without a Microwave

If you want just the popcorn, oil, salt and butter, you’re going to have to pop the kernels yourself in a pan. You could use an air popper, but I find that cooking it on the stovetop makes it taste even better. The air popped corn will sometimes be too tough and chewy. I think it’s because they don’t get hot enough.

It’s actually quite simple to make popcorn from scratch, but there are a few tricks to it that can make a huge difference in the quality of your snack. My ten year old makes our popcorn most of the time, and if he can do it, so can you.

First, you need organic popping corn, a hot pan and hot oil.

Corn is one of those things you should always eat organic, because much of the corn sold in this country is genetically modified. You can get in in bulk cheap at the health food store, or online.

* Pick a heavy bottomed pan, and use coconut oil. Coconut is the oil movie theaters used years ago that gave popcorn its characteristic yummy “movie theater” taste and smell. Movie theaters moved away from using coconut oil around the time it was being vilified (without cause, thanks to the food monopolies doing their thing) as a fattening, artery-clogging oil and vegetable oil was being promoted as the healthy alternative (actually, the opposite is true!).

* Put 3 Tablespoons coconut oil in your pan, put it on the stove on medium heat. Place 3 individual popcorn kernels in the pan.

* When the oil and pan are hot enough, one of the kernels will pop. Immediately add 1/2 to 3/4 cups of popcorn kernels to the pan, put the lid on the pan and start moving your pan around. When the popping slows down, turn off the stove and continue moving the pan. When the popping slows way down or stops altogether, your popcorn is ready. This is where the “art” of popcorn making comes in. It might take a few tries to get it just right.

* Pour the popped corn into a paper grocery bag if you have one. If not, a large bowl is fine, or several bowls if your popcorn eaters are greedy (mine are!).

* Put the pan back on the stove and add plenty of butter to the pan. There should be enough leftover heat to melt the butter.

* Pour the melted butter over the popcorn in the bag or bowl, add sea salt to taste, and vigorously shake the bag up and down to mix it up, or gently toss the popcorn in the bowl.

Enjoy your healthy, microwave less popcorn.

It promise you it will taste far better than anything you could prepare in the microwave and you will know (and be able to pronounce) everything that is in it.

Creative Commons License photo credit: madame.furie

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7 Responses to Microwave Popcorn – Are you sure you want to do that?

  1. My kids love it when I make popcorn at home. We have a popper, so we don’t have to use a pan, but same principle. It’s so exciting for them to watch it pop.

    It’s also fun to flavor. Lots of recipes online to make something other than the usual salt and butter popcorn. And of course it’s cheaper to make than to buy those microwave bags anyhow.

  2. Heather says:

    Microwave popcorn is a quick and convenient way to ingest toxins. Thanks for posting the idea of using coconut oil for naturally popped corn. Coconut is the best oil for popcorn since it can take the heat (unlike olive oil) that is required to pop the corn.

  3. illusion9 says:

    I had no idea about microwave popcorn being unhealthy, I will spread the word. Thankyou.

    This link http://www.pauapress.com/fluoride/files/1418.pdf
    accesses information about adverse health effects from fluoridation that The Establishment claims do not exist.

    Via this link you can access, free, Dr Bruce Spittle’s book “Fluoride Fatigue” that is sub-titled “Fluoride Poisoning: is fluoride in your drinking water and from other sources making you sick?”

    Please turn to page 76 and read about the author who has received numerous medical awards and prizes.

    Dr Spittle is the Managing Editor of “Fluoride” the official journal of the International Society for Fluoride Research and has meticulously referenced “Fluoride Fatigue” for the doubting Thomases who still think that fluoridation is safe for all.

  4. Miss Lila says:

    OK No more microwave popcorn.


  5. Fernanda says:

    Great recipe. I’ll have to try it :-)

  6. Monica says:

    Here in Ecuador most people do at home popcorn without using the microwave. I personally have done it only once when those bags started to sell in the supermarket, serveral years ago. Not anymore since they’re so expensive comparing to a bag of regular popcorn.

  7. Sharie says:

    We l-o-o-v-v-e-e homemade, stove-top popcorn cooked
    with coconut oil. My youngest just said a week or so ago
    that ‘this is the best popcorn ever!’ And I have to agree…
    It really does taste like the movie theaters made when I
    was young–cause they used coconut oil then too! :)
    Not chemicals to “taste like” movie theater popcorn.
    Glad to know others also enjoy this great little treat.

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