Processed Foods; Healthy or DANGEROUS?
“Why is it best to eat fruit and vegetables raw?” Right! Nothing destroys the nutritional content of food better or faster than processing.
The Benefits of Food Processing
There are substantial benefits of food processing including the removal of harmful toxins, preservation for longer shelf life, taking some of the urgency out of marketing and distribution of food, and increasing food consistency.
It is the consumers themselves that have driven the food industry in that we no longer recognize seasons. Yes, we want every variety of fruit and vegetable there is year round. This, of course, means that the produce must travel very long distances to arrive on the supermarket shelves in the middle of winter.
Food processing makes foods less susceptible to early spoilage than fresh foods and are better suited for long distance transportation from the source to the consumer.
Processing can also reduce the incidence of food borne disease. Fresh materials, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, raw meats and dairy products are more likely to pick up pathogens such as Salmonella. Food processing can reduce the incidence of these debilitating, and sometimes fatal, diseases.
There is an element of engineering that is present in treating foods. Today most food is engineered for taste and texture. Food processing combined with green harvesting destroys or reduces many of the natural sugars that give mature, ripe fruit its wonderful sweet taste.
Overriding everything is the profit motive. The availability of mass produced chemically altered foods is significantly cheaper to the homemaker than buying fresh food and creating meals from scratch or raw ingredients.
Food Processing Dangers
As we can see, there are significant benefits from converting raw produce, dairy and meat into processed foods. What is it that is missing in that litany of benefits?
Nutrition! Yes, all the benefits accrue to the retailer, the distributor, the big food processing company and the homemaker looking for convenience and ease or speed of preparation. The big loser in the consumption of processed food is the consumer.
Simply stated, modern food is not as nutritious as the food that we consumed 40 or 50 years ago; say before the McDonald’s era began. This gets us to another reason why smart supplementation is mandatory for optimal health.
Fresh unprocessed food contains a higher proportion of naturally-occurring vitamins, fiber and minerals than an equivalent product processed by the food industry. Many vitamins, including vitamin C, are destroyed by heat, thus canned fruits have a lower content of many essential vitamins than fresh ones.
After the food engineers got in the act, if was discovered that by removing certain nutrients, the taste and mouth feel of the food could be made more appealing. In addition, tinkering with nutritional content could improve a foods shelf life and appearance.