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Folks, I resisted very hard to title this "online articles that make me cringe, part 1." 

Too frequently, I come across articles from reputable sources supporting very odd decisions when it comes to cutting boards. We're talking places like Cooks Illustrated, Wirecutter, and more. My gripes?

Firstly, I can't take an article seriously if it doesn't mention end grain. What's really bad is that... it seemed like we had settled this 5 to 10 years ago. One end grain board should be featured, it's not even a debate anymore. I'm happy to admit that they will take more care than any other cutting board out there, but end grain butcher blocks are the only boards out there that can self-heal and also help keep a knife edge sharper, longer.  I am becoming curious if affiliate links are impacting what's featured. Why do I think this? Because it was websites LIKE these that were so focused on educating readers about the benefits of end grain just a decade ago.  

Secondly, of all the woods to mention, they bring up Bamboo.  Bamboo Cutting Boards aren't even technically made out of wood but grass. Bamboo is grass.  Does that matter?  Eh, no, probably not. Does anyone get it right? No, but that really doesn't matter at the end of the day either.  But you know what does matter?  The fact that very few of these articles mention that these boards are murder on your knife.  Bamboo is dense.  Bamboo does have its pros, don't get me wrong: it's cheap (which of course is the primary reason it's used), it's resistant to splitting (except for the fact that it takes so much gluing to make one that now it has more areas to split), it's eco-friendly (which you could really argue for just about any wooden cutting board).  In fact, I want to circle back to that last point... According to someone I know in the industry... wood products made in the USA with virtually any domestic wood is made from a wood that is used at a rate that is comparable with that specific tree's growth. Or in other words, on average, one of our cutting boards lasts as long as it takes for that tree to grow and be used for a new cutting board.  While I wouldn't be surprised if bamboo might be able to grow faster, I was still blown away from learning that.  

Thirdly, there are also really weird assessments about wooden cutting boards. Sometimes they're tough because they're thick, then they're delicate because they split. So which is it already?!  It isn't that these two things aren't true--that's not what I'm saying. What I am trying to get at is that these articles seem so bad at informing readers and offering a complete picture.  Here's how I would phrase it: 

When laid perfectly flat on a flat surface, End Grain Cutting Boards provide a lot of resistance against even pressure from the top or bottom as opposed to an Edge or Face Grain Cutting Board (aka Long Grain Cutting Board). This is because the wood fibers are like a collection of straws glued together. When facing upwards, it's difficult crush them as opposed to when you lie them down. However, we have a new issue: it is easier to divide them from pressure up above. In that respect, you could consider it "weaker."  But on the other hand, it's also stronger.

That might be too much information, and I suppose this has gone off course since I'm no longer discussing Bamboo.  I'll take that as a hint I should call it a day and end this... maybe I should dish on Teak Boards next? They're mostly good, but I think there's a couple things people don't know about Teak that they should know. ;)

October 08, 2020 by Nils Wessell