Home What Are You Eating? The Problem With Processed Foods, Part I: What Is Processed Food?

The Problem With Processed Foods, Part I: What Is Processed Food?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

I get lots of questions about why I’m such a huge stickler for chemical-free foods and why it matters… and instead of writing 3,500 words every time I’m asked, I wrote one 3,500-word blog post.

Surprise, surprise, no one was reading all that.

That’s okay. I’m breaking it up into a few parts that everyone will be able to digest slowly and properly (pun intended), and hopefully we can explore why healthier, cleaner, more chemical-free food choices are so important. It is critical that any person embarking on a clean eating journey have an understanding of why the journey is so vital to their success in losing weight.

Consider this part I of the series.

What are processed foods? Allow me to shed some light.

A “processed food,” in general, is something that has had to endure a process to make it what it is before it is turned over to you. Almost everything that comes in a box… is processed. Almost everything that comes in a zip-sealed bag… is processed. Almost everything that comes from a big giant brand or huge corporation or massive factory plant somewhere… is processed. Almost everything that you purchase from a grocery store… is processed.

I mean, that includes a lot – that’s all the aisles in the grocery store! You’d have to scale the perimeter of the store to avoid that, right?

Let’s look at the history of food in this country over the past one hundred or so years.

Once upon a time, before food was big industry (meaning: before processed foods) and we were dealing with the fear of famine, people were much smaller. Being overweight was a rich person’s dilemma. Why? Because you have to ingest an AWFUL LOT of whole foods (as in, not processed) on a regular basis to develop and maintain an overweight physique in that day. So being overweight simply didn’t make financial sense. Things like bread, pies, cookies, cakes… they were rare – couldn’t always buy them at the store, so you had to make them at home. Highly unlikely that you could or would be able to bake sweets every single day for your pleasure.

Because they were concerned about famine, portions were rationed carefully. They didn’t want to be caught out there not being about to get food, and having little at the house. Sometimes, you’ll hear our elders talk about when whole grains were once rationed out to the masses because not only did they need to make sure they had it for the soldiers, they needed to make sure the supply could cover everyone in the event of emergency.

To sum it up, food wasn’t presumed to be plentiful, and it caused people to skimp, penny pinch, and exercise portion control.

Now, in comes the push toward larger food distributors – less focus on local, more focus on “getting big.” “Get big or get out,” I believe was the actual line. The US Gov’t honestly feared that they wouldn’t be able to feed everyone without food production going factory, and took every effort they could to try to get it there. With food production being taken to the factories, we were separated more from how our food was made. The further the process was taken from us, the less oversight we had in regards to what was in it. We used to have the milkman, right? You made arrangements with a local farm to have your milk delivered to your door, right? Now, if you drink milk, you’re buying a gallon that comes from a farm that you have no knowledge of. You’re buying from a brand.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment, about the growth of manufacturing and adulteration of our food!

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Unami February 4, 2012 - 4:48 AM

Quite informative…..thank you

yessica November 12, 2012 - 9:14 PM


Girl Who Cried Skinny February 27, 2013 - 11:00 AM

So glad you’re writing about this! I just had a conversation with my FIL the other day that he started with the comment that he’d bought something “low fat” and *who knew* there was so much sodium in it! I lectured for 5 minutes straight about how anything that says it’s low fat or low sugar or whatever is loaded with chemicals. ohmyword, I keep telling my in-laws to eat REAL FOOD but I swear ….

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