Just recently the World Health Organization (WHO) published some findings regarding processed foods. You probably heard about this and all the hoopla around it. This sort of thing makes The Goddess crazy…well, crazier! Many times it’s misleading, and in some cases, flat-out wrong.Today, The Goddess wants to make certain we understand the true meaning of “processed foods” and not what social media says it is or should be. Did you know that words like “processed”, “organic”, “additives”, “low-fat” all have a legal definition? The United States Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, Section 201, Chapter II defines processed food as “any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or milling.”
But, what does that really mean? You know how The Goddess is always going on about roasting your nuts, well when you roast raw nuts, you’ve processed them. When we open a jar of peanut butter, not only have the peanuts been ground, but they usually have also been roasted, so you have more than one process in this case.
Ice is a processed food. Yup…it is. You have changed water from its liquid form to a solid. Sometimes it’s that simple. However, freezing water does not kill some parasites and bacteria, so if you boil the water, then freeze it, you’re fine. By the way, until the last few years bottled water was not regulated…something to think about.
We process foods to make storage easier, prolong shelf life (like the Preserved Lemons in the making pictured here), or to make them safer to consume. Pasteurizing milk is a perfect example of food safety. The simplest method of pasteurization is to heat raw milk to 165°F and hold it at that temperature for about 15 seconds. That will prevent certain bacterial nasties from invading our lives. You know, things like tuberculosis, salmonella, E. Coli and other things we don’t want or need to experience.
We also process foods to lock in the nutritional value. You may remember that The Goddess has mentioned that canned, frozen, and fresh vegetables and fruits all have comparable nutritional values. So don’t feel you are cheating your family’s health-and-well-being by using canned tomatoes, or frozen corn for dinner, instead of fresh.
My point is that processed foods are simply changing the raw product in some way. This process can include additives, that do all sorts of things, like enhance flavor and/or color, texture, etc. It doesn’t necessarily mean these are unhealthy, but that’s an entirely different discussion. The Goddess will pull out her soap box another time to discuss “food additives”.
If you want to read the actual WHO press release you will find it here. Other clarifications and discussions can be found here and CNN offers an interesting bit of info that includes some social media references here. But there are many other options out there too. Just be very conscious of the places you read things regarding health. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), the USDA, the FDA, the NIH, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Mayo Clinic websites are all good options for generally accurate information. Dr. Oz, is not!!!