[an error occurred while processing this directive] CBC.ca Montreal
CBC News [an error occurred while processing this directive] CBC News at Six
Be Green

Green Cookware

It sort of defeats the point of buying and cooking organic if we're sauteeing in a toxic pan, doesn't it?
By now, almost every single Canadian has eaten a meal that's been cooked in a non-stick pan.
The problem is that during the processing of Teflon (the most commonly used coating), a compound called PFOA is released into the environment. And it ends up in our blood (yikes).
Hell, it even ends up in polar bears' blood (and they HAVEN'T been cooking low-fat omelettes or living near Teflon plants...)
Although there's debate about whether Teflon affects human health, the US environmental protection Agency or EPA is concerned enough about PFOA to have called for a complete ban on PFOA use by 2015.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is "likely to be carcinogenic" to humans and wildlife.
(source: EPA)
Based on rat studies, PFOA, is a likely carcinogen. Plus, any parrot person will tell you that Teflon fumes are deadly to birds. A bird in the same room as a heated non-stick pan can actually die! I kid you not. Canary in the coal mine anyone?
Wait, before you send me hate-mail. Birds aren't the same as people but why use something that hurts them? No?
So I went looking for options.
I found a couple and decided to put them to the test... with a little help from one of the best professional chefs on the Plateau.

If you live in the Plateau/Mile End area, you MUST head over to Fuchsia. It's a wonderful little restaurant where owner Binky Holleran and her team of committed do-gooders cook delicious veggie cuisine. Her specialties include edible flower dishes, fresh exotic spices, incredible desserts and gluten-free food.
But I digress (drool)... that's not why we're here today.
We're here because Binky agreed to test 3 "green" non-stick pans.
Wanna meet the contestants? Here we go:

* PFOA- and PFTE-free
* Ceramic-based non-stick coating
* Heat-resistant to 450 degrees
* Price: $59 (not for the whole kit--this is just for the deep wok)

What Binky said about the Greenpan:

* She LOVED it!
* Loved the size and depth
* Found the non-stick coating to be comparable or even superior to Teflon
* Eggs especially were fluffy and slid around the pan
* A few signs of wear after 3 weeks (which would be the equivalent of 6-8 months in a regular household) but nothing that hampered the performance of the pan

* She did find it a bit heavy while sauteeing stuff.


Yeah, that's it. She was overwhelmingly positive about the Greenpan.
There are loads of other reviews on the internet--many positive, some mixed. Do a google search before you make up your mind. I've since gotten myself a Greenpan (tossed my Teflon) and it's now my absolute favourite.

The Greenpan is great for eggs, omelettes, sautees, fritatas, etc. It IS recommended that you use a bit of oil (and if you choose olive oil or other unsaturated fats, they're actually GOOD for you). Not the best pan if you want to sear meats. For that, a cast iron pan would be best. Despite what they say on the brochure, Binky doesn't recommend using metal utensils. Stick with wood or similar non-stick safe options.

Where to buy:

Greenpans are often sold under the Martha Stewart brand and has been affiliated with Marco Pierre White. You can buy them at The Bay, Home Outfitters, and Sears.

So next:

* PFOA- and PFTE-free
* Ceramic-based non-stick coating
* 99% recycled aluminium
* Extra thick warp-proof base
* Reusable packaging (love that plastic bin--great for storage!)
* Price: $37 to $40

What Binky said about the Starfrit pans:
Binky had mixed feelings about the Starfrits. And part of the reason was that she couldn't get the sticker off the *non-stick* surface of the smaller frying pan.
Even after 8 hours of soaking. Ouch.

I spoke with the marketing and press person for Starfrit and she assured me that the glue has since been changed and it's really easy to pop the stickers off now. I haven't confirmed this fact, but I thought you should know.
So, here's Binky's review:
* Loved the size and format of the bigger sautee pan.
* Excellent for glazes and browning veggies and meats
* Loved the fact that it was made of 99% recycled aluminium, giving it a smaller footprint during production.
* She didn't get the whole kit, so no comment about packaging (except the sticker debacle)

* The sticker debacle (see above)
* After the equivalent of a few months of household use, the handle came loose. (This isn't a huge con, but it does require a screwdriver and in Binky's opinion, is a testament to the overall workmanship of the product)
* The Starfrit pan did show many more signs of wear than the Greenpan. Again, this was despite a ban on metal utensils that were permitted by the brochure.

Where to buy:
The Starfrit is definitely more affordable than the Greenpan line. It is however, available exclusively at Walmart.

By the way, despite all the hype about Greenpan, my inner sceptic remains restless. After all, Teflon used to be the magic bullet as far as healthy cooking went not so long ago. But I haven't found too much in my searches online to point to anything worrying except maybe this. I don't know how you feel about nanoparticles, but it's another area where we don't really know much yet. And I agree with the writers of the article: glass and cast iron are tried and true. And the greenest thing you can do is reduce. i.e. not buy something you don't need.
Oh, and before you go out and buy any cookware at all, here's what Health Canada has to say about choosing.

So, now it's YOUR turn. Do you worry about your cookware? If so, what options have you found? Leave me a comment or call our talkback line: (514) 597-5626

« Previous Topic | Main | Next Topic »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your comments.

Comments (7)



Thank you, Geeta and Binky, for doing the product testing! I would not have been able to do this on my own. I shudder to think of how much PFOA I must have in my body. I will likely stick to cooking with metal pans, and I may purchase a Green Pan in the future.

Posted November 23, 2008 09:27 AM

Micheline Menard


Hello Geeta,I don't often see the news at six due to my work,however I did see your item on safe cookware.I,too do not cook with teflon or any other non stick surface due to the fumes.I have heard the fumes are toxic to birds and to us as well. I recently found a small non-stick skillet at Déco-Décoverte at the Fairview Shopping Center. The item was reviewed in the Gazette recently and I was able to buy a TRY-ME skillet for under 10 dollars. The surface is ceramic and is great. The name is called Earth Chef made by Berghoff.They have other sizes but he small pan is a great starter.Keep up the great work.

Posted November 24, 2008 11:36 AM

P MacAfee


I had heard a few years ago about the health concerns surrounding the use of non-stick cookwear so gradually I replaced mine with stainless steel and cast iron. I don't miss my non-stick at all.
I love your segment and keep up the excellent work!

Posted November 26, 2008 02:00 PM

Ali P in the Qc


I love my Paderno pans and pots and also my Martha Stewart pans and pots because they are stainless steel and will last me most of my life (The Paderno set was a wedding gift 14 years ago and is still going strong). The MS set came with a non-stick pan and its getting pretty beat up and the handles get hotter than the Paderno ones. Also, Paderno are made in Canada!
I also love my glass and cast iron cook ware as well.

Posted December 9, 2008 01:48 PM

R Gauthier


Hi Geeta.
Seeing your report on Ceramic-based non-stick coating pans convinced me to make the move and buy them. So I went to the store and bought 4 different size of pans from the 7" up to the 14 " skillet. The brand is EARTHchef and it's made by BergHOFF, a company based in Belgium.

Three weeks later I can tell you that these are the best non-stick pans I've ever used. I only had two problems with them.

First the 7"
With its affordable price (under $10), this would be the one people would buy to try this new product. But be aware that its handle is very different from all the other pans. It's made of one folded piece of metal so it's empty in the middle. The heat spreads more easily to the handle and it becomes too hot to hold when you're cooking. All the other pans don't have this problem because they're made of cast aluminum. Is it because I use a gas stove? Maybe.

Second (two different pans)
I rarely use oil for cooking and didn't have problems with that until I cooked sausages. The fat coming out of the meat combined to the heat makes a brown film that sticks to the pans and is very hard to remove. The first time I had left the skillet filled with water in the sink, washed it only 24 hours later and had a very hard time to clean it. The second time I washed it after the meal and it wasn't much easier to remove.

But overall, I'm very happy I bought them and recommend them to everyone. I just hope they will last for a long time but since it's a new product on the market, only time will tell.

Posted December 16, 2008 10:39 AM

greg wheeler


If you follow the Health Canada link at the bottom of this article, and read the information, right down to the bottom, you'll see this conclusion; "There is no risk of exposure to PFOA from using cooking utensils and equipment with non-stick coatings".

Pretty emphatic.

Turns out PFOA leaves the pan during manufacturing. So if no one bought non-stick pans anymore we'd stop seeing so much (harmful) PFOA entering the environment. When you cook with a pan with a non-stick coating, you're responsible for some of this gunk being released (at the factory) but you are not exposing yourself to it in the kitchen, or in the dining room.

Choices still need to be made but there's no need to panic about exposing yourself to this (probably) carcinogenic compound.

Posted January 15, 2009 02:52 PM

Jim Terepocki


I am not impressed by my new Berghoff Earthchef pan....It has an ugly brown stain + eggs stick after 3 uses...I'm looking at returning it! Eggs are very hard to scrub out of the pan...Tempted to use an SOS..and scrub it out!!!! I wouldn't buy another one!

Posted January 24, 2009 12:32 PM

« Previous Topic | Main | Next Topic »

Post a comment


Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

Recent Topics
Green RRSPs
Friday, Jan. 23, 2009
Green Renewal
Monday, Jan. 19, 2009
Green Resolutions
Friday, Jan. 16, 2009
Forever Plastic
Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009
Save some green (while you go the distance)
Monday, Jan. 12, 2009
Subscribe to Be Green
(reader required)