WHOLE FOODS versus PROCESSED FOODS*
To maintain health, to prevent disease, and to aid in the recovery from existing illness, the diet should consist of 75-80% alkaline-forming foods. This means that up to 20-25% can come from acid-forming foods. As a generalisation, all animal products are acid-forming. Most fruit and vegetables are alkaline-forming. Processing increases acid-forming potential. This is the basis of my September 2005 newsletter Acid Alkali Balance - The Ideal Diet.
Thus a healthy diet is essentially plant-based, organically grown where possible, as much raw as possible, and unrefined and unprocessed.
Refined foods have lost some of their nutrients as well as fibre. Refining generally is specific for carbohydrates such as grains and sugars. Some examples of refined foods are sugar from sugar cane (empty calories), white flour from whole wheat grain, fructose syrup from corn and glucose syrup from wheat.
Processed foods refer to foods that are packaged in boxes, cans, bottles or bags. These foods need to be processed extensively so that they can still be edible after a considerable time (shelf-life). One way to assess the extent of the processing is to compare the processed food to its original (as found in nature) state. In general, the more the processed food is different to the natural state, the less good it is for you. (See my May 2015 newsletter Processed Foods and Processed Meats.)
Joanna Blythman is Britain's leading investigative food journalist, and an influential commentator on the British food chain. She has won multiple awards for her writings.
In her recently published (2015) book “SWALLOW THIS ” she says:
"... how radically different food manufacturing [processing] is in its concepts, goals, behaviour and ethos from any form of domestic food preparation. Unlike home cooks, food manufacturers are driven by innovation and novelty. They work not from a framework of time honoured principles, but with a blank sheet. Each new product is, in industry-speak, a 'matrix', a never-ending jigsaw puzzle of possible elements either chiselled out from natural ingredients, or entirely man-made, that can be arranged and rearranged, right down to the molecular level if necessary, then stuck together in various ways, and in numerous forms, to meet certain overriding goals.” (page 10)
"So when the home cook decides to make a Bakewell tart [an English confection consisting of a short-cut pastry with a layer of jam and sponge using ground almonds], for instance, she or he looks out a recipe, puts together a line-up of well-established ingredients - raspberry jam, flour, butter, whole eggs, almonds, butter and sugar - and then bakes it in a tried-and-tested way. The factory food technologist, on the other hand, approaches this venerable confection from a totally different angle. What alternate ingredients can we use to create a Bakewell tart-style product, while replacing or reducing expensive ingredients - those costly nuts, butter and berries? How can we cut the amount of butter, yet boost that buttery flavour, while disguising the addition of cheaper fats with an inferior taste profile? What sweeteners can we add to lower the tart's blatant sugar content and justify a 'reduced calorie' label? How many times can we re-use the pastry left over from each production run in subsequent ones? What antioxidants could we throw into the mix to prolong the tart's shelf life? Which enzyme would keep the almond sponge layer moist for longer? Might we use a long-life raspberry purée and gel mixture instead of conventional jam? What about coating the almond sponge layer with an invisible edible film that would keep the almonds crunchy for weeks? Could we substitute some starch for a proportion of the flour to give a more voluminously risen result? Would powdered, rather than pasteurised liquid egg, stick less to the equipment on the production line? Could we use a modified protein to do away with the eggs altogether, or to mimic fat? And so on." (Page 11)
Whole Foods versus Processed Foods?
Another two quotes:
"In the food manufacturer's ingredient store, you get a further insight into why processed convenience foods don't taste convincingly like their home-cooked equivalent. In the same way that you will never see a stray onion ring lying around a ready meals factory, you're extremely unlikely to see an eggshell either. Eggs are supplied to food manufacturers in many forms, but almost never in the original packaging. Instead they come in powders, with added sugar, for instance, or as albumen-only special 'high gel' products for whipping. Liquid eggs will be pasteurised, yolk only, whites only, frozen or chilled, or with 'extended shelf life' (one month), whatever is easiest. They may be liquid, concentrated, dried, crystallised, frozen, quick frozen or coagulated. Manufacturers can also buy in handy pre-cooked, ready-shelled eggs for manufacturing products like Scotch eggs and eggs mayonnaise, or eggs pre-formed into 300-gram cylinders or tubes, so that each egg slice is identical and there are no round ends. These hardboiled, tubular eggs are snapped up by companies that make sandwiches. Manufacturers can also take their pick from bespoke egg mixes, ready to use in everything from quiches and croissants to glossy golden pastry glazes and voluminous meringues. And there is always the cheaper option of using 'egg replacers' made from fractionated whey proteins (from milk). No hurry to use them up either; they have a shelf- life of 18 months." (Page 33)
"They [food manufacturers] have come to rely on flavourings and obscure sweeteners to replace the natural tastes in food that industrial processing destroys. They have depended on fake colours to make over-processed, degraded beige-brown food look more appealing. They have needed preservatives and antioxidants to extend shelf life. Without these, and all the other weapons in its trusty armoury - emulsifiers, stabilisers, sequestrants, gelling agents, thickeners, anti-foaming agents, bulking agents, carriers and carrier solvents, emulsifying salts, firming agents, flavour enhancers, flour-treatment agents, foaming agents, glazing agents, humectants, propellants, raising agents, flavour carriers and binders - the modern processed food industry is drained of its life blood." (Page 59-60).
Yet a little more to whet your appetite to learn more:
[At a food trade exhibition, a pastry chef’s] “cakes were dead ringers for those neat layers of sponge, glossy fruit jelly, foamy cream and chocolate you'd see in the window of a classy patisserie, but were made entirely without eggs, butter or cream, thanks to the crafty substitution of potato protein isolate. This revolutionary ingredient is 'tailored to the required functionality: foaming, emulsifying, or gelling' and provides 'the volume, texture, stability and mouthfeel' we look for in classic cakes, baked with traditional ingredients." (Page 74)
“The strapline for a product called Butter Buds®, described by its makers as 'an enzyme-modified encapsulated butter flavour that has as much as 400 times the flavour intensity of butter', summed it up in six words: 'When technology meets nature, you save'. And just in case that was too airy-fairy, the small print spelled it out: 'Using Butter Buds saves you money, resulting in a healthier profit margin'. Or plainer still: 'Butter Buds helps you cut costs'." (Page 77)
So, what then is in processed foods? Quoting from the back cover of her book: "Chicken that's three weeks old by its 'use-by' date. Vitamins derived from petrol. Fruit salad bathed in acids. Cooking oil extracted with toxic solvent …... Many foods in your shopping basket, even those that seem wholesome and straight forward, have been altered in fundamental ways that you really need to know about."
Joanna Blythman has gained unprecedented access to factories, suppliers and industry insiders, to give an eye-watering account of what we are really swallowing. It has been said that she "knows more than anyone else about where our food comes from."
If you want to know more about processed foods, what is really in them, and the truth about the manufacturers of such foods, obtain a copy of Joanna Blythman's book from which the above quotes were taken.
The full title of her 312-page book is ‘SWALLOW THIS - Serving up the Food Industry's Darkest Secrets’. It was published by Fourth Estate, London in 2015. It is available from Abbeys Bookshop (131 York Street Sydney, ) and also obtainable, post free, from the Book Depository ().
My March 2009 newsletter Foods for Health sums up the reality:
“We are what we eat.
We eat what we buy. So we are what we buy.”
*Copyright 2015: The Huntly Centre.
Disclaimer: All material in the huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.Back to the list Print friendly version