RT Cunningham

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The Stigma of Processed Food

Tagged with chicken, food, health, iodine, milk, salt on December 13, 2023

processed food Like anything else in the world, we can find some good examples of processed food as well as some bad examples. It’s extremely short-sighted to assume that something, just because it’s been processed, isn’t as healthy as something that hasn’t been processed. Many of the food items we take for granted as healthy aren’t any healthier than some of the others.

Processed Food

Is milk healthy? If you drink it raw, and it’s been some time since the cow was milked, definitely not. Pasteurization is a process that makes milk safe to drink. Table salt (if the label reads iodized) is processed to help alleviate iodine deficiencies.

If you pay attention to some health professionals, all processed food is bad. Canned food is the worst. Many times, they suffer from their own prejudices and rely on bad information. Monosodium glutamate, for example, is often touted as a horrible additive even though it occurs naturally in things like tomatoes.

I eat a lot of processed foods, especially when I’m living in places where fresh food is in short supply. The stigma against processed foods should be directed at the “ultra-processed” food, but even then it should be ignored when the positives outweigh the negatives.

Canned Food

Canning has been around for at least two centuries. Despite the word giving the impression that only tin cans are used, canning is a method of food preservation that uses containers of all kinds, including those made of glass. My grandmother on my father’s side (R.I.P.) used to store plum jelly in Mason jars every year. She had plums on several plum trees in her backyard that wouldn’t get eaten otherwise.

What some people fail to understand is that in some areas of the world, canned food is far safer than the so-called fresh food alternatives. Even so, I won’t eat a lot of local brands of some products while I’m living in the Philippines. I probably spend too much money on imported food items.

The process of turning beef into corned beef adds salt and nitrates, both designed to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria. Corned beef is usually cured and cooked before it’s canned. I don’t eat it often, but I enjoy it with rice when I can.

I also like luncheon meats like SPAM (although the SPAM brand itself is too expensive for my tastes). Although I probably could, I never eat a full can of corned beef or luncheon meat by myself. That would be too much salt.

Food in an Open Market

Some food is left out in open markets, for hours at a time. I’ve seen it myself in Kenya and in the Philippines. I will trust eating meat from a can over meat that isn’t refrigerated (for hours) every time. Although I won’t write about it in detail, I once suffered from food poisoning from ground beef obtained from an open market.

Street food is just as bad. I know this because I watched a relative cook chicken and pork parts that had been basting in the sun for more than a couple of hours. At one time, I regularly bought barbecued chicken from a street side vendor. Never again. It doesn’t matter that I’m emphasizing meat. The same thing holds true for fruit and vegetables, especially when you see all the flies buzzing around it.

Further reading:

Image by Jörg Husemann from Pixabay

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