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How Much Processing is OK?

August 1, 2012

The perception of food processing varies widely. Ask 20 people to describe a dog and you might get 20 descriptions. Food processing has even more variety. Some say they view it as how many unpronounceable words are in the ingredient list. Others say it is anything that has changed form.

From that purist standpoint, cheese, butter, ice cream, jam, peanut butter and pickles are all off the list. Bacon, smoked meats and a wide variety of foods are minimally processed between source and your freezer.

Still others say it’s the super processed foods that are objectionable – condensed, sweetened, salted, processed food products that resemble food but are seen as little more than byproducts. Examples here is the soft Kraft type cheeses, boxed or frozen anything and most canned items.

Salt and sugar have long been added for taste and preserving. Heat and eat meals – from tv dinners to microwave breakfast sandwiches – have come into their own the last 40 years. Fewer people know how to cook, and their parents don’t know how to cook.

How much processing are you ok with? Are canned pasta shapes the same as sliced bacon? Are you willing to forgo the quick meals that can be done in a half hour – from fish sticks to macaroni and cheese? Are hot dogs the worst thing you can think of to prepare for dinner? Are you willing to cut processed foods in half, increasing the amount that you cook from scratch? Are you willing to process your own foods instead of relying on other companies doing it for you?

You can make beef jerky (above, ready to go in the dehydrator) as well as granola, canned soups and leftover meals (heat & serve) on your own. But will you?

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