A recent article makes the claim that “popcorn is a health food”. (Source Calgary Herald “Popcorn is a health food, says research” August 19, 2009 http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Popcorn+health+food+says+research/1908039/story.html)
I don’t disagree with that in principle, and with so many forms of ‘popcorn’ out there it would be wise to examine which forms have the lowest crap factor.
High on my list of crappy popcorn would be any type of commercially prepared ‘candied popcorn’ … especially ones that contain high fructose corn syrup, food colouring, preservatives and other nasties.
Then there is the flavoured microwave popcorn. Just the smell of that stuff cooking puts my crap-factor-spidey-senses on full alert … not to mention the fact that some popcorn factory workers have developed lung cancer from breathing in the chemicals used to make fake butter and other flavourings. And what about the single use bag that holds the popcorn as it pops away in the microwave. While that bag may or may not be recyclable where you live, it is coated with chemicals that could contaminate the popcorn as it pops. Also, I’m just not a fan of cooking food in a microwave oven … just my personal preference.
I have heard it is possible to pop corn in the microwave using a paper lunch bag or glass bowl with a lid … but I have never tried it myself. This would seem to be a very low crap form of popcorn … except for the microwave part … again … just my personal opinion.
Then there is that pop in a jiffy stuff, specially created for popping over a campfire. Great idea, but I always wonder what nastiness the heated aluminum foil adds to the finished product … and again there is the issue of recycling the oil soaked aluminum after your done.
Those little hot air popcorn makers work well, although I have concerns about the non-stick coating and fumes from the plastic cover contaminating the corn as it pops.
Theatre popcorn, in my opinion, has a lower crap-factor rating, especially when I pay the extra 50 cents to have it topped with real butter and it is served to me in an environmentally friendly paper bag. I stay away from those flavourings in the shaker containers though … too many artificial ingredients that make my tongue feel yucky.
Popping corn in a pot on the stove with a little bit of oil, while not as convenient as other methods, is my favourite form of popcorn, mostly because I can purchase organic ingredients (popping corn, oil, sea salt) in bulk which cuts down on packaging and I can choose my own low crap flavourings.