Thursday, November 18, 2010
Lead-Free Clay Cookware
"You can put them on the stove??" is a frequent question from many people when they see this clay cookware. No offense intended, but that's like asking a salesperson if you can wear a raincoat in the rain. Umm...that's what they're for. Es para cocinar. Or to translate into English, "It's for cooking". The amazing thing about these casseroles and pots (and the molera above) is not that you can put them directly on a gas flame or wood fire-- or inside the oven--but that they're from Mexico, and they are LEAD FREE. Most Americans don't realize that even though it has been the law for several years that all pottery designed for food use must be lead free, what you usually get in Mexico-- still-- has lead in the glaze. So most likely the stuff sold as "vintage" collectibles on eBay is full of lead, as is most of the cheap pottery sold in the markets all around Mexico. However this pottery, which is exported by a non-profit organization in Mexico called Barro Sin Plomo, which means lead free clay, is the only Mexican clay cookware imported to the U.S. that is certified lead free.
Using lead free pottery is better for your health, and for the health of the Mexican artisans and their families whose workshops are no longer contaminated with lead dust. The earnings from the pottery sales provide essential economic support for families in several poor Mexican communities, and are also used in the campaign to encourage more artisans to give up the use of lead in their clay process.
I mentioned the usual reaction by Americans to this cookware, but there is also a typical response from Mexicanos or Mexican-Americans when they see it here in the United States. Young and old, men and women, most react emotionally, remembering an abuelita who used to cook amazing sopa, frijoles, or mole in simple pots just like these. They know that the food tastes better cooked in clay-- no convincing needed there. This is part of their cultura, and the memories and feelings are strong. So many of these folks, while they have adapted to the American style of supermarket shopping and food preparation, remember a time when there was always a pot of something delicious on the fire, cooking nice and slow, all day long.
The family's meal was homemade, and the clay pot used for cooking it was handmade... like this one on the right, which is part of our new product line we're calling Cocina Sana (healthy kitchen) through Mexico By Hand.
For more information, or to purchase lead-free clay cookware, please go to www.mexicobyhand.com
or contact us at: (510) 526-6395.
Wholesale customers of Cocina Sana are most welcome.
See traditional clay cookware being used today in Mexico in the beautiful video below from UNESCO.