Monday, April 26, 2010

Processing and the chemicals in our foods

Technically speaking, processing is the "process" of bringing food from the farm to the consumer. Handling and processing can be more or less harmful depending on practices used.

Often there is an issue of what chemicals are used to bring foods to consumers. Some chemicals that have been found to have negative consequences on health are used to preserve foods from spoilage so that they can be brought to the masses who cannot get to farmers markets or who cannot afford to purchase these fresher foods. Foods that spoil and are eaten are not safe either and there are tradeoffs that must be made for safety. Foods that are thrown away cost us money. Recently, I have seen some new innovative, natural food preservation methods. With the appropriate focus in this area more innovations are likely to surface.

The USDA will be announcing new regulations to keep our food safe in the coming months. Some of these regulations will be hard on smaller businesses as the required practices may be costly to implement.

Some chemicals are used so that foods alter the appearance of foods to make them more appetizing to consumers such as additives that enhance the color of a product. The upside of this approach can be to make these foods more appealing to purchase. The question becomes, can we educate consumers to be comfortable consuming oranges that are not completely orange so coloring is not a part of their processing? How can we manage the cost of bringing food to consumers that is healthy and still appealing. (I'd hate to see us throw away all the oranges that don't have a great orange color but still are sweeet and have lots of Vitamin C). What price are we willing to pay for healthier food?

We pay a price, risking our health in many ways that we may not be aware of. But if we are aware, we need to speak up. Consumers need their voices heard so that competition in the market will bring us the very healthiest and safest food for the lowest cost.

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About Me

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers, I'm back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so, there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. If they buy impulsively, that's what they will see more of. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make and stick to better food choices that you enjoy. You'll gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions for healthful food and food practices you can happily embody and embrace!