You and I are about processed foods, because our ancestors learned how to cook meat and make bread and, perhaps more importantly, beer. Accordingly, our brains grow and our intestines transform. But these two words, put together, processed foods take on a new terror in this era of organic, locally sourced, artisan-free, cage-free distance, I want to know-in
In this zeitgeist of culinary purity Validates the movement of plant-based meat, providing beef alternatives that are almost as processed as processed ones. The Impossible Burger, for example, was created to taste, smell to smell, texture to texture to reproduce ground beef – things even bleed like the real thing. KFC tests chicken nuggets and plant-based wings. But some chains like Chipotle are deplorable, saying that things are over-processed for their delicate tastes. (After all, it's Chipotle: that bastion of health in which the typical diet collects more than 1
But it's time to get to know processed foods. For one, processed does not have to mean unhealthy and in fact it is only because of some processed foods that people around the world get the food they need. Two processed foods are better maintained, reducing food waste. And three, if we are to feed a growing population of a planet with limited arable land, we need to create new sources of food, in particular protein.
The core of confusion around processed foods has been identified. According to the Institute of Food Technology, processing is – and be prepared for – "one or more of a number of operations, including washing, grinding, mixing, cooling, storing, heating, freezing, filtering, fermenting, extracting, extruding, centrifuging, frying, drying, concentration, pressure, irradiation, microwave and packaging. "
So … almost everything you put in your mouth is processed. "Highly refined foods like yogurt, olive oil and bread have many, many processing steps and they don't look like the original product they started with," says Connie Weaver, nutrition specialist at Purdue University.
Foods can be essential for human health. For example, iodized salt has helped people around the world get the iodine their bodies need to function. "At the moment, there is actually this confusing nomenclature, with the idea that we can classify food as good or bad based on the degree of processing," says Ruth McDonald, a nutrition specialist and registered nutritionist at Iowa State University. "And it doesn't make sense from a nutritional point of view, but it doesn't really make sense from a food science standpoint either."
What people probably mean when they refer to processing, has more to do with ingredients. Each bread will include grinding, mixing, fermenting and heating. But white bread goes through an extra step of whitening flour, which removes some of the natural nutrients that are later added back to enrich it. And something like Twinkie takes processing to a whole new level, with corn syrup added and, for good measure, high fructose corn syrup.
It is the added ingredients that give processed foods a bad name, because while not all processed foods are junk foods, all junk foods are processed. The tempting taste of saturated fat, sugar or salt may be easy, but they are unhealthy hacks when taken too far.
This means that as consumers we have to ask questions, not so much about the processing as the ingredients. Impossible burgers and beyond burgers beyond meat are not what you would call healthy foods. For every 4 ounces, you get 14 grams of Impossible fat and 18 grams of Beyond, compared to 23 grams of 80 percent lean beef. Looking at calories, that's 240 for the impossible, 250 for the beyond and 288 for the beef. But sodium is where plant-based alternatives are wild: 370 mg for the impossible and 390 mg for the beyond, compared to just 75 mg for the real one. Quite frankly, since they are plant-based, it is impossible and beyond that they contain fiber that is zero in true beef and fortified with vitamins and minerals.