Sunday, December 28, 2008

PROCESSED FOOD...An Oxymoron

Processed food has become a common staple in the American household but have you ever thought about the true meaning of the words PROCESSED FOOD?

The two words are indeed an oxymoron as they each cancel out the other in terms of meaning. Webster's Dictionary gives the following definitions:
Processed: to subject to a special process or treatment
Food: 1: material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy. 2: nutriment in solid form (nutriment: something that nourishes or promotes growth, provides energy, repairs body tissues and maintains life) 3: something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies.

Wikipedia defines processed food as the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw
ingredients into food or to transform food into other forms for consumption by humans. Food processing typically takes clean, harvested crops and uses these to produce attractive, marketable and often long-life food products.

When a food is treated by heat as in canning and aseptic processing or extreme cold as in refrigeration and freezing to alter its original form it loses all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to sustain growth, to repair and to furnish energy.

Have you ever eaten a burger and fries or steak and potato and felt an urgent and undeniable need for a nap? That's because the body is thrown into a state of digestive shock. It requires large amounts of energy to breakdown a meal that essentially will never properly be digested because those foods weren't meant for human consumption; everything essentially needed by the body was either not included or processed in a way that made it an unhealthy food choice.

The food processing technique of the 19th and 20th centuries was developed to serve militaries. With that being said, consuming processed food was meant to be a temporary choice made from a necessity not a lifelong option.

Today, food processing companies have only one objective in mind; to capitalize off of the poor, uneducated and nutritionally ignorant. They create synthetic foods in “kitchen laboratories” and use the general public to experiment the affects of their non food ingredients, ie… genetically modified organisms, artificial flavors and colors, and a host of other ingredients that were made up to addict us to a tasty package of something that's quick and easy. They have never had the health of its consumer in mind as they are filled with additives and lacking the nutrition the body needs to sustain a long and healthy life.

Things you're sure to find in processed foods…

Let us begin by saying that most ingredients of processed foods begins in its natural state. However, canning, freezing, refrigeration, dehydration and aseptic* processing destroy most if not all that's good and wholesome in the product.

MSG is concentrated salt and is one of the main and most common ingredient in processed food. Salt is used to prevent spoiling and kill bacteria. During the last century many food producers began using other words to mask the fact that although MSG was not good for you they were continuing to use it. Things like hydrolyzed soy protein was on labels…who knew soy protein was something bad? MSG not only acts as a poison in your body, causing damage to your cells, but has been linked with causing nerve damage and vision loss as well.

The average American consumes almost 200 pounds of SUGAR per year and eating excessive amounts has been linked to Type 2 Diabetes, obesity and tooth decay and in studies shown to feed cancer cells. It has also been shown to be just as, if not more addictive than most street drugs!

High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS is added by more and more food manufacturers because it's a cheap ingredient to use to gain the desired taste of a product. HFCS increases your triglyceride levels and the bad cholesterol within an hour of eating.

Trans Fats or “Factory Created Fats” are unlike other dietary fats, Trans fats are neither essential nor healthy and, in fact, the consumption of Trans fats raise one's risk of heart disease. These fats have replaced natural fats and liquid oils especially in the fast, snack, fried and baked food industries. Trans fat remains in the blood stream for a much longer period of time and is more prone to arterial deposition and subsequent plaque formation. Replacing Trans fats with “good” fats could lower your risk of heart disease by over 50%! Trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils are used because they increase shelf-life and are an inexpensive alternative to other oils. So once again we see that processed food manufacturers are only concerned with their bottom line…not our health.

It's no wonder Americans have the highest rate of heart dis-ease, diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, impaired brain function, just to name a few. According to the United Health Foundation, “When health in the United States is compared to health in other countries, the picture is disappointing. The World Health Organization, in its annual World Health Statistics 2008, compares the United States to the nations of the world on a large variety of measures. While the U.S. does exceed many countries, it is far from the best in many of the common measures used to gauge our healthiness and lags behind its peers in other developed countries.” The fast pace lifestyle of Americans has become the norm and in the “process” of our quest for convenience, “processed foods,” has become our best friend yet worst enemy…Another oxymoron to reflect on.

So we ask you, the next time you get hungry, what will be your food choice?

*Aseptic processing is the process by which a sterile product is packaged in a sterile container to maintain sterility for things such as milk. Sterility is achieved with a flash-heating process.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was real food for thought. Midday Marauder.....

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this piece. It makes me want to pay more attention to what I put in my body due to the extensive traveling that I do. I need all the energy I can get. I'm sure with your help my eating habits will change when I'm home and I'll try to motivate myself to do the same when I'm on the road. GH