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A few months ago I decided to test clay cookware (aka earthenware). And here is what happened. In the light of concerns about lead and cadmium in ceramic dishware and cookware, I was delighted to find Miriam’s Earthen Cookware. On her website, Miriam features a report confirming that there is zero lead and cadmium in her clay cookware. After talking to Miriam in person for almost an hour, I felt confident enough to give Miriam’s Earthen Cookware a try. So I bought her large clay pot for a hefty price.
It took awhile for the pot to show up but it arrived well packed and in good order. I studied the detailed instructions on how to season Miriam’s Earthen Cookware pot and followed them. I was extra careful to follow all the instructions so I did not damage such an expensive clay pot.
After seasoning the pot, the first thing I cooked in it was beef bone broth, which was not very convenient because the water evaporated even faster than from a stainless steel pot. I had to set up an alarm in the middle of the night to add water. The aroma of the broth mixed with the scent of clay remained in the house for a few days. I was willing to overlook these minor difficulties because the broth was delicious. However, I could not help but taste a subtle hint of clay.
The taste of clay became more prominent when I cooked beans in the pot. Actually, after I ate the beans I continued having a clay aftertaste in my mouth – for four days. I also felt tired. I thought that maybe something else gave me the weird aftertaste. I had recently started taking probiotics and an herb, and stopped taking them in case they were the culprit. Finally, the aftertaste was gone and I was not quite sure whether it was caused by Miriam’s clay cookware, especially because my husband did not experience the same problems.
So a week later I cooked something else in Miriam’s clay cookware. This time, it was a chicken broth-based soup. The broth had been cooked previously in another pot I had used for a long time. The clay aftertaste came back and I felt really run down. It took me about a week to fully get rid of the haunting clay aftertaste. As for the energy, I felt a lot better after a few doses of N-Acetyl Cysteine, which helps detoxify heavy metals.
When I talked to Miriam, she suggested that my condition might have been caused by the fact that food made in her clay cookware is so nutritious and my body simply was not used to handling the extra nutrition. She said that I might stop taking my multi-vitamins and give the clay cookware another try.
I expressed my curiosity about the composition of the clay she uses. I had learned clays have a variety of ingredients, from nutritious things like calcium and magnesium to potentially harmful things like aluminum and antimony. Here is an example of clay composition. On her website, Miriam has a full list of nutrients and micro nutrients found in the clay. This is different from a full list of ingredients that make up the clay. Miriam said that she has the full of list of the ingredients she uses, but it is proprietary information. When I am asking tough questions of manufacturers, I hear this “proprietary information” phrase very often so I am well prepared for it. What I was not prepared for was what came next. Miriam suggested that I call the lab and ask for the test results directly from them. I did, but as you can imagine, the lab did not release any information to me as I was not their customer.
So, we do not know what is in the clay, which is important. Why? Because the clay pot has no glaze that creates a barrier so whatever is in the clay can leach into food. This study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment (vol. 409 (15) – Jul 1, 2011) detailed the results of testing of glazed and unglazed clay cookware. The study focused on arsenic and it was found that arsenic leached up to 10 times more from unglazed earthenware. The scientists concluded that the risk of arsenic poisoning is high enough to be of concern and warrant regulation. By the way, arsenic is not so uncommon in clay as it was detailed by the UK’s Foods Standards Agency.
Please do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting that I was poisoned by something that leached out of the clay. The purpose of this write up is to share my experience with Miriam’s Earthen Cookware, educate others of possible downfalls of clay cookware, and provide a platform for sharing experiences with clay cookware. Please let me know if you have used clay cookware and what you thought. Please forward this blog to whoever you think might be interested. And if you’d like, please come by our house and take this clay pot from us because we do not know what to do with it. Unfortunately, Miriam’s return policy is no return.
Disclaimer: I could have received commissions for promoting Miriam’s Earthen Cookware.
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