Everyone has a pet peeve. Mine is when people announce that they do not eat processed foods, especially when they act as if this fact makes them superior to everyone else. I always struggle to keep quiet and not say something rude. Why?
Because I’m willing to bet that all of us ate processed food today. Even the people who claim that they don’t. Furthermore, I proclaim that processed food can be good for you and challenge all of us to come up with more specific terms for what we eat.
What does it mean for a food to be processed? People are generally referring to are packaged “junk” foods. But a processed food is really any food that is not in it’s original form and has been changed in some way. Does that sound fair to you? If so, milk, frozen vegetables, bread, canned fruit, and boneless chicken breasts are all processed foods. Still ready to swear off all “processed” foods?
People have been processing food for hundreds of years. We process food for safety, such as pasteurizing milk. We process to make foods available year round rather than just in season, such as canning or freezing fresh fruits and vegetables. We process to make new foods, such as baking ingredients into bread. We process to improve health, such as removing the skin from chicken. All of us can agree that many of these processes are essential for better health and a better food system.
So let’s all try and be more specific in our language to describe food. If you have sworn off packaged salty snacks or treats, I can stand behind you saying so. To continue saying “processed foods” is like saying everyone from California is from Los Angeles. It isn’t accurate or very polite.
Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!