When Hamlet went crazy he muttered, “words, words, words.” Does it say something about us that we get what he means?
Sometimes we think that we’ve figured out our world by placing labels on it. Yet people still seem to maintain their own definitions.
Ask 100 people what processed food is and you’ll likely be presented with a whole bunch of different answers. Hence the whole debacle. We just want to get on the same page, people!
Some processed foods may be obvious: those unnaturally coloured items like fluorescent macaroni and cheese. That is certainly true, yet there is more to it than that.
Let’s get fresh with one another (we’re not flirting with you, we promise):
- Has not been preserved in any way
- Spoils quickly
- Is in its raw state – it has not been cooked or frozen
- Products are in the same state that they were harvested
- May still have wax coatings or pesticide residues
- Does not always signify when the item was harvested (that is what “local” is for)
- Has been altered from its natural state
- May be canned, frozen, refrigerated or dehydrated (BPA-free canned tomatoes would count, as would dried fruit)
- Includes dairy products or nut butters that are homogenized to keep fats from separating (even ones at the health food store)
- Is all food that has been frozen (this includes single ingredient, flash-frozen fruits and vegetables)
- Extends to oatmeal, as it has been flattened and likely lightly steamed
Includes dried pasta, tea and olive oil
“I don’t eat processed food” may not be entirely true, even of the cleanest eater. After all, many of us live in Northern climates, which limits us from our fruit and vegetable picking. Yet processed foods that contain a high number of ingredients or don’t go bad (like, ever) may be worth taking out of a clean diet.
Fresh food does have its benefits. Most importantly are the taste and the nutrients. The quicker you eat an item in its raw state, the more nutrients are preserved to go into your bod. This is the reason that Ayurveda cites fresh food as one of the most important tenants of the diet. You are what you eat and you certainly don’t come from a package.
Are you mumbling along with us? Words, words, words.