Non-Toxic Microwave Popcorn

I love popcorn. And when I say I love popcorn, I mean I make it for a late night snack 4-5 times a week.

Schleping out canola oil and pot seems like a lot of work, so I wanted to find a way to indulge in my evening treat while avoiding the chemical nasties associated with conventional microwave popcorn.

Health concerns with conventional popcorn bags

Popcorn bag lining:

A chemical used to line microwaveable popcorn bags called PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) has been linked to various health impacts including cancer, low sperm counts and thyroid disease. PFCs can be found in a variety of food packaging including pizza boxes, personal care products, rain coats and stain resistant carpet. Find out more here.

Fake butter:

The chemical used to make the butter flavoring in microwaveable popcorn, diacetyl, has caused major respiratory issues in workers in popcorn factories. The health issues workers faced became so prominent that they started to call it “popcorn lung.”

GMO corn:

Most conventional popcorn is made from genetically modified corn and may be heavily sprayed with pesticides. A recent investigation by the USDA, found unapproved genetically modified wheat in Oregon, nearly fifteen years after it was first used. For more information, here is a great myths vs facts sheet on GMOs from the Non-GMO Project.

Mark Bittman, well-respected journalist and chef, wrote about a cheap and easy way to make safe microwaveable popcorn at home. It’s one of my favorite simple recipes.

Non-Toxic Microwave Popcorn Recipe

  • Put a quarter cup of popcorn into a paper school lunch bag (organic and non GMO if possible — don’t worry it’s cheap!)
  • Fold the top of the bag over twice
  • Place in the microwave, placing the bottom of the bag on the tray (in other words, standing up)
  • Set to 2:45 on high heat (less if you have a new higher powered microwave) and pop away!
  • Add olive oil instead of butter and be sure to add real salt! You can also add nutritional yeast or Japanese rice seasoning for a tasty treat.

(Pro tip: If the brown paper bag is thick and high quality, you may need to stab it several times with a knife to create little slits to prevent the popcorn from burning. I noticed thinner, cheaper quality paper bags work best.)

You can always use an air popper or make it on the stove, but I still enjoy the easy convenience making it in the microwave, no clean up!

Do you have a delicious twist on traditional popcorn?

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(Photo credit: fl4y – flickr CC)

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