The kitchen seems to be the place I hang out the most when I’m at home, and I’ll be honest, I LOVE it. Cooking and preparing meals is usually something that brings me joy (clean up is another story though). One of the things I do most often in the kitchen is food prep with my cutting board. For a long time I used those plastic, flexible cutting boards, but let’s be honest, after my last few posts about phthalates and polyvinyl chloride, I think you could understand how ditching the plastic cutting board was the ONLY way to go. So what are the best options when it comes to non toxic cutting boards?
And while there are new materials you can choose, there’s always questions about IF it really is a non-toxic cutting board and does it hold up over time. I’m going to share with you everything I know about cutting boards and getting one that is completely safe and healthy for your family. Afterall, you’re cutting up food on it and then consuming that food (and potentially toxins from your cutting board). We know that ingesting toxins is one of the MOST harmful ways they affect our bodies, so making sure food surfaces are safe is key.
The trick to creating a truly toxin free home is not necessarily in a total overhaul process, but instead, in finding lower toxin options to choose WHEN it’s time to replace an item that you use on a frequent basis.
TOXIC CUTTING BOARD SURFACES
Plastic: Plastic is a popular choice for cutting boards, and while it’s pliable and resilient to cuts and scratches, eventually, it does scratch. The plastic that comes into contact with our food is concerned enough due to the toxins in pvc plastic and phthalates that are present in plastic. But add a few scratches and you’ve increased your exposure to these toxins. You’re looking at increasing your risk of endocrine disruption and hormone issues, developmental delays in children, reproductive system harm and an increased risk of allergies and asthma.
Fused Bamboo: So, let’s clarify, I don’t mean a SOLID, untreated bamboo cutting board. SOme cutting boards that are made of bamboo (and particularly the ones that are lower in price and therefore quality) are actually particles of bamboo fused or glued together. Most of the adhesives must be extra strength in order to hold the particles together, and unfortunately that means the glue often contains formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Also be careful of non-food grade mineral oil being used as a finish on these, as it contains glyphosate and atrazine, chemicals harmful to the body.
Antibacterial Surface: Any cutting board that has labels stating “Antibacterial” or “Prevents Odors” usually contains some sort of chemical antibacterial agent in or on the board. This could contain triclosan or another similar chemical that disrupts our hormone production as well as creates an environment and system that promotes superbugs. The great news is there are natural elements that have antibacterial properties you can use if bacteria is a large concern.
Melamine: Melamine is a chemical compound commonly found in dishes and kitchen items. Melamine has negative impacts on brain development as well as reproductive functions due to its suppression of the endocrine system. While it’s usually an inexpensive option, due to the chemicals present, it should be avoided when it comes to food preparation.
WHY IT MATTERS TO CHOOSE NON TOXIC CUTTING BOARDS
I mentioned it before, and it doesn’t hurt to mention it again, the act of ingesting various toxins is often one of the most harmful ways to come in contact with them (as opposed to inhalation or absorption through skin).
Not only do we generally come into contact with greater amounts of toxins through ingestion, but it also travels to our organs and systems much more quickly in comparison to other exposure methods. They also negatively impact the gut microbiome.
What’s more is that many of the toxins I mentioned above that are in other cutting boards disrupt the endocrine system. This is what keeps our hormones balanced and in check, which in turn keeps many of our other systems up and running properly. With our hormones out of whack, we start to see other effects spill over because of this: fatigue, weight gain, reproductive issues, insomnia, headaches, and thyroid issues.
By cutting out these toxins wherever we can, we start to see a more balanced endocrine production system and we start to see our bodies become unburdened. An unburdened body will heal itself and will start to an ease in that general unwell feeling.
THE BEST SURFACES FOR NON TOXIC CUTTING BOARDS
Wood: Solid wood that doesn’t contain any sort of toxic adhesive or non-food grade mineral oil finish is the BEST option in my opinion. You’ll want to opt for a hardwood non toxic cutting board as opposed to a soft wood, like bamboo. I truly love the cutting board we purchased from an Etsy Seller and have NEVER booked back. Urthware is another good option when it comes to solid wood non toxic cutting boards.
Epicurean: Epicurean is non porous and is made of natural wood that is pressed together in sheet form under extreme pressure and heat. Now, I have to tell you that research is KEY when you’re going to buy an epicurean product. SOME products made of this method have been soaked in resins and chemicals like phenol, which should be avoided. BUT, some epicurean materials are VOC free and chemicals from any resin are destroyed or released during the saturation process. Look for a GreenGuard Certified cutting board here and you’ll be safe.
100% Natural Rubber: Oftentimes this type of non toxic cutting board is used in commercial or professional settings. You have to find 100% high density natural rubber with no fillers. It also doubles as a non-skid surface. These boards are great because they rarely dull your knives and they typically don’t absorb bacteria, liquids or odors. You’ll have to clean them by hand, but then that’s the case with most non toxic cutting boards.
Stone: Granite and marble cutting boards are another good option. You’ll want to make sure these boards are naturally polished instead of chemically sealed. The only downside to this non toxic cutting board option is that they are often VERY hard on knives. But, on the flip side, they don’t absorb moisture or odors and therefore they are very bacteria resistant.
Glass: Make sure to opt for a tempered glass when you’re looking for a cutting board. These boards often have no other treatment on them and are 100% natural. It’s a great option when you’re looking for a non toxic cutting board. The only downfall of these is that again, they’re really hard on knives and dull them quickly.
Silicone: Look for food grade silicone for any cutting board you find. I love these for a flexible cutting board option in the kitchen instead of plastic. Silicone doe not easily breed harmful bacteria, and so even if there are small cuts in the cutting board, this is less of a concern. Silicone is also naturally nonslip and can withstand pretty high temperatures before any sort of leaching would occur.
RESTORING WOOD CUTTING BOARDS:
Sometimes wood cutting boards need a little extra love. Or even your wood cooking utensils. They also need a little TLC sometimes. When mine start to need a little restoration, I uses Vermont Natural Coatings Wood Rescue. This solution is natural mineral oil and organic beeswax blended together to restore wood items in the kitchen. It’s also 100% food grade.
First, start with a freshly cleaned surface or utensil. Wash them with warm water and gentler dish soap. For spoons and utensils I also like to soak them in vinegar and baking soda.
Once the surface is completely dry and clean, apply the Wood Rescue Oil onto the wood. Then, use a towel and rub oil into all areas of the wood.
You’ll want to allow the wood to dry completely (at least 4-6 hours) before using it. You can repeat this procedure every month or so as needed.
TOP PICKS FOR HEALTHY CUTTING BOARDS
Remember, it’s these small steps forward that REALLY make a difference in your healthy home. Don’t be overwhelmed by choices, instead, make a list today of one small change you can make to your cutting board situation at home. When you’re ready to replace your current cutting boards, you’ll be ready to make the healthier choice.