Processed Vs Unprocessed Foods
Let’s face it, with a busy lifestyle it’s so much easier to grab a bag of processed wheat flour than to go through the laborious exercise of removing impurities, washing, drying and then giving the wheat berries for grinding before rolling out chapatis or baking simple bread. Phew..
The advice “Eat more whole foods and consume fewer processed foods” is not as simple as it sounds.
I searched internet and spoke to some of my friends from food world to figure out what the fuss is all about. Though I am convinced and a little confused…chances are we would disagree on many of the pointers mentioned here.
“Whole food is all about eating food that still looks closest to their natural state and processed foods are altered during manufacturing or are simply pre-prepared for convenience.” a foodie friend argued.
“Any kind of activity which involves even a slight change in the texture or state of whole food can be termed as processing.” She continues.
“But then, chopping, deseeding, de-husking, fermentation, pickling, sprouting, grinding, and freezing…if these are not a ‘process’ I don’t know what is. In fact, all the listed ways of processing (mechanical) makes the food more nutritious and easily digestible than they once were.” I wondered and argued.
“I need stone teeth to chew and a steel intestine to digest whole wheat kernels and paddy rice. My coffee needs pasteurized milk, the lentils and rice need to be cooked well before it comes to dining table.” And the conversation ended there.
Internet came to rescue as food scientist Rober Shewfelt in his book ‘In Defense of Processed Food’ defines processed food as “a product that has been modified to improve its safety, extend the shelf life, enhance its quality, and improve its convenience.”
Points to ponder:
1. Most of the foods that we eat are proceeds in some way. The difference is the degree of processing (heavy or minimally) involved and the method (mechanical or chemical) used to make food more palatable.
2. More the food is processed more is the chances of it being extremely low in essential nutrition, high in sugar, salt, wrong kinds of fats and may possess many additives. Try to avoid such foods.
That said, not all processed food that comes in bag or a box are bad. Learn to read labels, look for the added additives and make better choices. If not, then try to move on…