On the Chopping Block: Wood or Plastic?

Feb 20th 2013

Wide variety of produceEvery Friday I pick up a hefty box of produce.  I opt to pick up the veggies. It affords me a chance to escape the heavy traffic to look out on rows of cabbages and corn to my right, native trees like gumbo limbos and Spanish Stoppers to my left. With so much produce there is a lot of washing and chopping that needs to take place.  Chopping of course can be a rush job on a paper plate but when I have time, and prepare for the week, I like to take out the cutting board and peel, slice, chop, sliver.

My husband uses a plastic cutting board for all the juicy mangoes, papayas, and other fruits he finds in the yard while foraging.  I have a wooden cutting board that my father-in-law crafted for me. I’m always hearing news-like voices in my head while I use the boards, “Plastic for this," and, "Wooden for that," and, "Never use this,” so I decided to re-check my facts and clarify any confusion regarding choice chopping materials.

Plastic cutting board with knife and vegetables

Because of wood’s natural characteristic for being able to absorb water, oil, etc., it is a safer bet for cooks to use wooden cutting boards for cutting up produce and herbs. Once finished, wood needs to be cleaned and oiled. Wood is best for your knives. Plastic cutting boards are impervious and therefore great for cutting up fish or beef proteins.  The surface can be easily sanitized so it greatly limits any concern for the spreading of E. coli or other foodborne illnesses.  Plastic cutting boards can, of course, be  used for both produce and protein.  Some people choose to buy two cutting boards in different colors to use for meats versus fruits and vegetables- a great idea for staying organized.

Wooden cutting board with kiwi and pomegranate

While researching cutting boards, I learned about an alternative material made by  Epicurean, a brand of cutting boards that are made out of a material originally created for skatepark surfaces. These cutting boards are made from a combination of different recycled materials including wood and plastic. They are safe on knives, safe in dishwashers, and are completely nonporous, meaning no bacteria. Cutting boards make great gifts for hostesses, birthdays, or even anniversaries.  We can always use new ones, especially in different sizes, whether it be for cheese and crackers or loaves of bread.

Do you have a favorite cutting surface? Has one been carefully cared for through generations? Do you color-code your boards? Share your thoughts here on the blog or @FitTrampoline, and Happy Chopping!

In good health,

Heidi Aspen Lauckhardt-Rhoades

 Writer and Social Media Correspondent

Fitness Professional

Twitter: @ATweetFit