Cooking low and slow is a convenient way of cooking meals, especially because it doesn’t require as much babysitting. Slow-cooked food tends to taste better, too! It is a boon for cooking dishes like bone broth, soups, and stews. You can put in all ingredients in your crock pot, turn it on and let it cook for hours to find your meal ready to serve.
If you live in the US and are looking to support your local economy, it might be difficult to find a slow cooker that is manufactured entirely in the United States due to how tightly woven companies are with the global trade economy. For example, a company might have its headquarters in the US and advertise its products as US-made, but it might be sourcing different components from different parts of the world where labor laws are not as ethically stringent.
Then there is the issue of health: what is the healthiest cookware that has no contaminants?
Conventional American-Made Slow Cookers or Crock Pots
When looking for American made slow cookers, you will come across a wide range of choices that offer versatility and control over your cooking by offering many functions. Typically, the more money you spend, the more feature-rich this electronic appliance is going to be.
Although these convenience functions are helpful, the major differentiating factor for your health is the raw material they are made from. How healthy are common slow cookers? Read more to find out.
Common Slow Cooker Features
The most popular crock pots made in USA feature a ceramic inner pot. Some may have a stainless steel insert, as well. Many may have detachable parts, meaning despite some slow cookers’ complexity, a part can be replaced instead of the entire device. Some of the higher-end slow cookers are also programmable, adding heating and keep-warm options. Most slow cookers have a sizable pot volume, allowing for large quantities of food to be prepared – perfect for events and larger gatherings.
Major Issues with Conventional Slow Cookers
One of the biggest issues that comes with slow cookers is indicated by the name – meals cook slowly in these kinds of pots. Although the food cooks more thoroughly over a period of time, this process can take several hours at a time, meaning meals have to be started well in advance. Although many might prefer this method of hands-off cooking, the long preparation time can make the process of slow cooking undesirable for some – with life so busy, who wants to worry about starting their dinner in the morning or even the night before? As a result, some- thinking that their choices are limited- might skip cooking altogether and give in to takeout meals more often than they’d like to.
Unfortunately, preparing food in a conventional crock pot also poses health and environmental drawbacks, too.
Making & Using a Crockpot Made From Conventional Material is not Eco-Friendly
Locally buying a crock pot made in the USA helps mitigate the carbon footprint that comes from overseas shipping and transportation, but there are still many ways these may harm the planet in both production and in your own kitchen.
Conventional slow cookers are typically made from ceramics & some metals, and the process in which these materials are extracted and refined cause cataclysmic damage to our environment. The mining & fracking industries alone are responsible for massive deforestation, extinction of wildlife, and contamination of natural resources by dumping toxic waste.
There are also several thousands of tons of toxic waste released during these processes that pollutes air, water, and land; making such appliances not very eco-friendly.
The companies involved in the production of a slow cooker cause lots of damage, but by using these pots, you impact the environment, too (do not worry, we have a solution, keep reading to find out).
Cooking for such long hours expends a lot of electric energy and thermal energy. This contributes to far more energy consumption than needed, which has its own effects on the environment, as detailed here. These long hours of cooking can directly impact your electric bill, as well!
Using a Slow Cooker Leaches Dangerous Toxins into Food
Many ceramic-ware pots and ceramic coatings and glazes used in the crock pots have been found to contain lead and cadmium in the past. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration randomly tests ceramic food containers like crockpots for lead. That testing, according to an FDA spokesperson Megan McSeveney, showed “some positive findings of extractable lead and cadmium from the glaze used in making ceramic ware over a number of years.” These glazes are used to intensify colors and make them shiny. The unfortunate thing about lead testing is that the FDA does not conduct their own tests – they rely on the manufacturing company’s in-house tests and rarely investigate further.
Lead and cadmium exposure in food, no matter how little, is a huge health risk (Read: CDC on Health Problems Caused by Lead). These heavy metals can accumulate and cause severe damage to your organs and body functions like the heart, kidneys, nervous system, and reproductive system. It also directly affects human development, beginning right at pregnancy!
Read more about lead contamination from crock pots here: The Dangers of Lead in Slow Cookers
Slow cooking increases leaching tenfold: long hours of heat exposure means long hours of these chemicals and metals ending up in your food. Furthermore, if you own an electric slow cooker with a metal insert, these metals can leach into your meals, too. On top of that, prolonged heat can cause off-gassing from the casing of any slow cooker (with the casing being made from a combination of plastic & metals).
Slow Cooking Damages Nutrients
Many may opt to slow cook as a healthier option because it is widely believed that cooking at lower heat minimizes nutrient damage and leaching. Unfortunately, this is not the case, because of the nature of the materials used in a typical crock pot. Ceramics & metals both emit a harsh near-infrared heat. This highly volatile, sporadic heat rapidly heats and cools in close proximity with your food. Slow cooking does not change the nature of this particular wavelength of heat. This means nutrients are still damaged and lost in the process.
How Can You Overcome These Issues?
It cannot be denied that slow cooking has benefits that other methods of cooking cannot offer: meals taste richer and larger portions can be cooked at a time without the “babysitting”. But how can you avoid contributing to environmental harm and compromising your health? What if there was a pot that can cook quickly with the same level of quality as a slow-cooked meal, using less heat/electricity and leaching no toxic chemicals at all – all while being manufactured completely in the United States?
There is one!
Miriam’s Earthen Cookware (MEC) is a US-based cookware brand that offers pots and pans made from a pure and all natural material – lab-tested primary clay. Remember how we said that a “made in the USA” brand might not be fully produced in the United States? MEC is truly “made in the USA”: the company sources its clay from within the country; hand crafts the pots in Massachusetts; and ships nationally (& internationally, too!). These pots serve as an excellent slow cooker. But of all the benefits they offer, the best one is that they have no lead, no cadmium, no arsenic, and no heavy metals – tested and guaranteed.
What Makes These Healthy Pots Different?
The Healthiest Option: Using an 100% Non-Toxic, Inert Raw Material
All-natural clay when fired is an inert material, meaning nothing can leach from the raw material. As previously mentioned, there are no additives or toxic chemicals included in the production process at any stage: the cookware is handcrafted without additives, glazes, enamels, or chemicals. The pots are made of a lab-tested primary clay (and only clay!), so there is no risk of contamination.
On top of that, these healthy crock pots utilize a unique far-infrared heat to evenly cook your food, as opposed to the harsh near-infrared heat that ceramic slow cookers use. Far-infrared heat acts as a different kind of heat altogether, gently radiating heat to your food. This kind of heat keeps nutrients intact, and your food never receives more heat than it can handle. In addition, with use, this healthy pot will cook your food much faster than any other slow cooker! Slow cooking with MEC takes a fraction of the time, cutting your cook time in half (or less!).
Conscious Strides for Our Planet: Eco-Friendly in Production & Use
MEC harvests its raw material, pure, primary clay, from the 25-30 feet below top soil. They adhere to strict testing and harvesting guidelines that make sure the clay is not contaminated in any way with metals, chemicals, or toxins. And during the making, they do not use additives, extenders, or fillers in the clay. Their products are not glazed either; they are finished completely by hand. This way, MEC guarantees that their products are 100% pure and non-toxic.
In the household, thanks to these healthy pots using the previously mentioned far-infrared heat cooking, they cook at low heat on the stovetop and retain heat for longer. Food keeps cooking with heat from the pot even after you turn the stove off. This low energy consumption combined with an overall quicker cook time saves a lot of energy for your household. You can save on your bills and help save the environment!
For a full breakdown on the environmental benefits of MEC, read here: Green Cookware Sets
What Can You Cook in These Healthy Crock Pots?
You can cook many great things with this American-made slow cooker. Soups will be more savory, and your meats will be so tender they will be falling off the bones.
The MEC XL Pot (6 quart) is an excellent slow cooking pot to begin with. Preparing food with this healthy alternative to a conventional slow cooker is simple, too: you can marinate your food before leaving for work, then spend only about 30 minutes cooking your meal once you get home! Here are a few MEC how-to’s for the most common slow cooking recipes:
How to Make Homemade Bone Broth
Using beef, bones, chicken, bones, herbs, or vegetables, you can make a healthy homemade broth in MEC for your soups and stews. Normally, these broths take 14+ hours, but in MEC, a broth takes 3 hours maximum! Here’s a basic guide on to make a bone broth at home:
- Add water to your pot.
- Add your desired bones, vegetables, and/or spices.
- Cook on low heat with the lid covered until done.
- Strain out broth and store for later use.
That is the basic gist of it! No crazy complex instructions that will send your head spinning. For more specific instructions and cooking times, here are some more detailed instructions on how to make homemade broths.
How to Make Soups & Stews
These soups and stews do not require any added stock or processed broth: MEC’s steam-retention capabilities create a natural broth full of flavor and nutrition. Add salt only as needed, your soup or stew’s flavor is not dependent on it! Here’s a simple guide for how you make soups & stews:
- Add your spices, water, and natural oil
- Add your other ingredients, including vegetables.
- Cover and cook on medium-low heat until done. Stir as needed.
Here are four Soups & Stews recipes you can enjoy!
How to Cook Dried Lentils & Beans
Beans are notorious for taking awhile to soak and cook. With this guide for cooking beans and lentils, you can cook these hearty vegan-friendly proteins all in under an hour. In addition, some of these lentils & beans do not need to be soaked beforehand, saving even more precious time!
For lentils, cook your lentils in water at a ratio of 1:3 (lentils to water). For beans, cook them at a ratio of 1:4 (beans to water). Both recipes can be cooked on medium-low heat in only about 40 minutes!
For more detailed instructions on specific types of lentils & beans, check out this guide: Lentils & Beans
How to Make Casseroles & Grains
Making rice & other grains in MEC can be simple without needing any extra additives for flavor. Here’s how:
- Add water and your grain at a 1:2 ratio (or as specified)
- Cover and cook on low or medium-low heat until done.
Too easy, right? Your grain dishes come out flavorful with just these two ingredients!
Ready to Buy a Slow Cooker Made in the USA that is 100% Non-Toxic and Truly Eco-Friendly?
MEC can be your best bet in cooking healthy and nutritious meals while also making the planet a bit greener with every use. Order an MEC pot for slow cooking from our online store and have it delivered right to your doorstep anywhere in the world with carbon neutral shipping and packed with 100% biodegradable packaging material.