You’re Eating More Processed Food Than You Realise (And It’s OK!)
‘Processed food’. Such a simple yet divisive term! For some it conjures up images of cheap, fatty nastiness and post hangover binges on one side, and organic cotton wearing, bare footed hippy mums on the other. (Who would never, ever, ever let their little ones eat ‘processed food’! Oh the horror!) Anyone who’s tried to eat more healthily will know that ‘processed food’ is often seen as a big no-no. But we’re all eating more ‘processed food’ than most health gurus acknowledge… And it’s actually good for us!
According to the dictionary, ‘process’ means ‘to ‘perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on (something) in order to change or preserve it.’ That jar of olives? Processed. That tub of butter? Processed. Those gourmet sausages you bought at the farmers’ markets? Processed. That pot of soup you made where you chopped, boiled, blended the ingredients, then froze some for lunches next week? Processed. Anything with flour in it? Processed. All of our sauces and condiments (with the possible exception of lemon juice, if you count that as a condiment)? Processed. Unless we are literally pulling something straight from the ground and eating it raw, everything we eat is processed to some extent.
In fact, many of the ways we process foods make them more easily digestible and more nutritionally available. For example, fermentation is one way we ‘process food’, that actually improves our dietary outcomes. Fermentation can be found in a number of foods we eat everyday, including:
- Yoghurt – Lactobacilli bacteria works to break down sugars in the milk that make it easier for us to digest. These good bacteria also contribute to keeping our guts healthy. Fermentation is also what gives yoghurt that lovely tangy taste.
- Cheese – Without the process of fermentation, the milk at the foundation of cheesemaking wouldn’t be able to curdle, or form solids. And, without fermentation, there would be none of the delicious ‘stinky cheese’ that so many around the world love!
- Pickled vegetables – Staples of many different cultures around the world, for example Kimchi in Korea, and sauerkraut in Germany, pickled vegetables mean yearlong access to vegetables (and their nutritional and taste variety) without the need for refrigeration.
- Bread – The yeast in the typical loaf of bread is the key ingredient needed to make it rise.
- And even vanilla and chocolate! – Fermentation develops the aroma of both of these, and we know that the delicious aromas of vanilla and chocolate are gastronomic aphrodisiacs!
See Choice’s review for more on the health benefits of fermentation.
So, ‘processed foods’ can actually be better for us, and tastier, than their unprocessed counterparts. Not to mention, ‘processed foods’ are so much more convenient! I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad I don’t have to thresh and grind the wheat into flour myself, every time I want to bake some cookies!
Yes, some ‘processed foods’ are full of things we don’t want to be eating often, but we just wanted to point out that there can be some benefits to processing too!
Here at Gecko Vending, we know that ‘processed’ doesn’t have to mean unhealthy and we can supply your business, school, or sport or community club with lots of healthy ‘processed’ options – fresh yoghurts, cheese and crackers, healthy snack packs, and much more!
**So, if ‘processed foods’ aren’t necessarily what we want to be avoiding, what are the main things we want to be looking to avoid in our regular diet? Stay tuned for our next post to find out the Top 3 Unhealthy Things To Watch Out For In Food (And how we can help).**