Everything is Processed

by 

Maybe it’s all of the talk being generated by the book Salt, Fat, Sugar: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. I know I enjoyed writing about it in the articleThe Extraordinary Manipulation of Human Beings. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence that the Institute of Food Technologists(IFT) have just released several videos in defense of processed foods.

According to their web site, the mission of the IFT is:

… advance the science of food. Our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply contributing to healthier people everywhere.

Founded in 1939, IFT is non-profit organization with approximately 18,000 members. It’s sponsors include Coca-ColaMcDonaldsMonsantoProcter & Gamble,Archer Daniels Midland CompanyLand O’LakesCanolaInfo.org, and other huge players in the food industry.

The need for such an organization is easily explained, and I’m sure its members include good people and solid scientists. However, when you follow the money trail, it would be impossible to conclude that they are free of bias. After all, the major food corporations are this organization’s lifeblood.

Here is some of their latest propaganda.

So, according to Dr. Decker, fortification is one of the ways that processed foods make our lives better. And then there’s the processing of cereal grains, so we can make something that is inedible into something that is edible. And, of course, there’s all of the time savings. With processed foods, he tells us, we can have dinner on the table in 15 to 30 minutes.

Dr. Decker says:

“From the consumer side, I really think we need to help them understand how the food processing industry has made their lives better.”

This makes me wonder if Dr. Drecker has ever looked inside a modern, mainstream grocery store. Ever?

Based on the products that are in every aisle, on every shelf, and in every grocery cart…I’m just pretty sure consumers don’t need any help accepting processed, boxed, packaged, cellophane wrapped, dyed, flavored, “foods” as a part of their diets. Unfortunately, consumers already do think that gnawing on Cool Ranch Doritos tacos has made their lives better.

And really, why worry? Apparently, we can’t decide to eat non-processed foods, even if we wanted to:

According to the video featuring Dr. Floros, everything is processed. Therefore, we can’t say that processing is bad. In fact, when you decide what you want to eat for your health processing shouldn’t even be a factor. How can processed food be bad and how can we choose not to eat it, if everything is processed?

Clever. As real-food movements pick up steam, the food industry is countering with this message that processed foods can’t be avoided, so don’t even try.

He spends some time driving this message home, and then, like Dr. Decker, he reminds us that processed foods are more convenient.

Ah, but all this talk of convenience and women and grandmothers deserves a real spotlight — a video all its own.

So processed food is THE reason why we are able to do so much. There is no denying that food abundance and the ability to store foods frees up time and makes our lives easier, but that doesn’t mean that the way we are going about it today is ideal. Yes, it beats the hell out of famine, but our system has become more corporation-centric than human-centric.

Let’s remember that the aim of the large food corporations (that sponsor the work of IFT) is to reduce their costs and to create products that consumers will crave. The more consumers eat and drink, the better it is for these corporations’ bottom lines.

Contrast the IFT videos above (assuming they haven’t removed them yet) to this piece recently produced by Canada’s CBC. In it, one woman says:

“I ate to the point that it hurt to move, and I would just lie in my bed and wish I was dead.”

How empowering and convenient. Check it out, this is worth watching:

So why do you think the food industry is responding like this? Are they concerned about movements like real-food and Paleo? What do you think about the claims they are making about processed foods and convenience? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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