With all the additives and chemical ingredients found in typical microwave popcorn, I’ve recently taken to popping my own corn.
Health Concerns Associated with Microwave Popcorn
According to an article by environmental health professor Helen Suh MacIntosh, a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has found a link between lung disease and diacetyl (among other chemicals), which is found in store-bought microwave popcorn. Chemicals such as diacetyl are used to give microwave popcorn its fake buttery taste and NIOSH reports that employees working in microwave popcorn factories who were continually exposed to these chemicals were at a higher risk to develop a dangerous and severe type of lung disease called “popcorn lung”.
Furthermore, a report from the FDA found that one of the substances in the chemical coating of microwave popcorn bags breaks down to a substance called perfluorooctanoic (PFOA) when heated. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified PFOA as a “likely carcinogen.”
Instead of eating microwave popcorn I prefer to make my own and enjoy it with real butter. When I make my own popcorn I do it in the microwave or on the stove because I can’t be bothered with a hot air popper. I am not a fan of kitchen appliances that serve a single purpose.
In the Microwave
Believe it or not you can make microwave popcorn in your microwave without buying the yucky stuff from the grocery store. All you need a paper bag and a 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels. Throw the kernels in the bag, fold over the edge and microwave for two minutes.
On the Stove
I would say this is my preferred method. When I was a kid my mom used to make popcorn this way all the time. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a big pot and turn the heat up to medium high. Don’t put the popcorn in right away though. Instead, add just two kernels. When one of them pops, you know the pot is at the right temperature. Then toss in 1/3 cup of popcorn seeds into the pot and cover. As the the popcorn starts to pop, begin shaking the pot back and forth across the burner constantly to keep the corn moving. When you hear that the corn has nearly stopped popping, take the pot off the burner.
For a unique taste, you could also get fancy by adding a bit of rosemary to the oil when you first put the pot on the stove.
So there you have it. DIY popcorn is super easy, cheaper than microwave popcorn and contains no carcinogens or other nasty chemicals. Give it a shot and let me know what you think in the comments!