Tailgating amongst 100,000 Tiger fans at a LSU football game is a experience not to be missed. You know it must be special when you learn that thousands of the purple-and-gold clad Louisianians there, don’t even have a ticket to the game.  While chips and dips may make an appearance, it’s the cast iron cauldrons of jambalaya, gumbo and Boudin that take center stage. These Southerners don’t mess around with anything but the best when it comes to college football. And when it comes to cookware, it’s cast iron all the way.

There are a ton of reasons to make the switch to cast iron cookware. Perhaps the most important is that of safety. If you are still using non-stick pans, bakeware and griddles, take the time to understand the risks before you whip up your next dish. Here are the top 6 reasons why people are choosing to go back to basics with cast iron:

No Teflon or PFOAs
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a chemical used to make the ultra smooth coating on the extremely popular non-stick cookware.  The risks of PFOAs include everything from low birth rates to various forms of cancer.  The good news is that cast iron is the original “non-stick”  king.  A well-seasoned cast iron pan rivals the non-stick benefits of Teflon coated pans without any of the risks.

Related: Risks of Non-Stick Cookware Too Great to Ignore

Even Heating
There is a reason why chefs around the world and LSU fans alike sing the praises of cast iron. It boasts uniform heating and superb heat retention without any annoying “hot spots.” This consistent heating is especially ideal for slow cooking.

Adds Iron to Your Diet
Did you know that every time you cook with cast iron you get a little more iron in your diet? Acidic foods are especially adept at drawing iron out of this cookware and into your foods. Remind your pregnant friends that cooking with cast iron may help her avoid anemia.

Extremely Durable
Cast iron lasts forever and can be passed down from generation to generation. Even if it is old and a bit rusty, it can still be revived. Can you say that about those flaking, not-so-non-stick-anymore pans?

Low Cost
When you compare the cost of cast iron with many other types of cookware, cast iron is extremely cost efficient. For around $22.00 you can purchase a 12-inch pre-seasoned skillet which will last you a lifetime. This is a pan you will use everyday and is perfect for fried eggs in the morning.

Free your metal utensils! No more are they banished to the back of your drawer for fear of scratching the non-stick surface. Cast iron can take on that fork and metal spatula with ease. Making a fritatta or corn bread? The hearty cookware transfers easily from stove-top to oven making one less baking dish to clean.

There is no shortage of variety when it comes to cast iron. There are woks, griddles, panini pans, dutch ovens, fajita skillets, muffin tins and melting pots. Lodge offers the most extensive selection of cast iron cookware. It’s easy to find, very affordable, and bonus, all their seasoned cast iron cookware is actually made in the United States. Another benefit? Cast iron is beautiful and actually looks great on your stove top.

Before you fully invest in cast iron, know the downsides: it is heavy, the handles get very hot,  and, if don’t use it regularly, may require additional seasoning. However, once you start cooking with cast iron you’ll see that the safety and multitude of benefits of this cookware greatly outweigh these nuisances.

Ready to start cooking with cast iron? Check your cupboards for forgotten cast iron cookware or check out a few of our favorites:

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