Sunday, November 25, 2012

On Food Preservation and Food Processing

Food Preservation and Food Preservatives

Growing up in an environment where everyday food that enters my mouth is fresh, it is hard for me to consider eating processed foods. I blame the hard-hitting publicity campaigns of advertising and PR agencies that discredited the life-long research of Nicolas Appert, Clarence Birdseye, Peter Durand, and Louis Pasteur when I was growing up. I can also add the bulk of the everyday advice I got back then from my parents that eating fresh food is the only option I had to make myself healthy.
            I was scanning academic journals to research about food when I came across topics about processed foods and, curios that I am, I begun reading a ton load of abstracts and methodologies. There are both benefits and drawbacks when it comes to processed foods but as far as my reading goes, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. And to better understand the importance of food processing a little history can do no wrong.
Way back when industrialization was not a well-conceived idea and Sparta was a place not a band, food processing or should I say a crude way of preserving food was already incorporated within our ancestors’ daily lives. From salting to smoking food items, our ancestors (from Greeks to Romans) used these methods of food preservation which then became the foundation of modern food processing techniques. Then came the 1900s and the nuclear era, a turn of events that inspired food scientists to think outside the box and include food irradiation as a method to kill bacteria found in food. The idea was to make food last longer by killing existing microorganisms that spoils food. It is the founding principle that applies to all kinds of food preservation methods or techniques that include curing, fermenting, freezing, and canning. Within my reading, I also found out that religion and culture might have been a factor.
With new ideas sprouting from every corner of the world, I can only imagine that future endeavors in food processing and preservation will only bloom because of the immediate and ever-constant need to produce more food in order to delay food shortage and allow people to have easy access to healthy options, because of population explosion. As for future food processing trends there are 3 main points food scientists are tackling namely a hygienic approach to containing or storing food, increasing the efficiency level of current and upcoming food processes, and the option to create better food choices; for example reduction of fat content while maintaining the taste-quality of the food.
            After reading a hundred pages of food researches for the past 5 days I can say that food processing is not bad at all. In fact the benefits definitely outweighed whatever drawbacks there were. From decreasing of food toxicity and increasing food availability to reduction of morbidity cases for food poisoning and/or food-borne illnesses, all points to a better tomorrow for all us. Bon app├ętit!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Comfortable As It Gets

Eat comfort food when your down

          With the constant weather changes barraging us every day, all I can think of is food. Especially if it’s a rainy weather, food enslaves my mind like there’s no tomorrow. Well who doesn’t, right? Sorry if there is not so much of logic in that statement but it happens to me a lot, guess I’m depressed, again (self-diagnosis, as usual). Though there are contradicting studies concluding that if you are stressed or depressed, you have heightened but time-limited physiological, psychological, and/or behavioral changes that might affect your food cravings,  I am going to turn my head where it states that it does exist.
          If I am stressed or depressed I tend not to be picky with what I eat, for some they choose sugar-rich foods while others eat salty foods specifically, but for me anything that I can get my hands on I swallow like a whale with a troupe of shrimps in front of me. Though I am not picky I have my favorites, and yes it is in plural form because I have a good list and a detailed one at that. Why you might ask? Because these kind of dishes comfort me like a warm blanket in a misty-filled dawn in Baguio in the month of February, like reminiscing the perfect scene from my favorite chick-flick movie, like a child opening for my only Christmas gift after 25 days of waiting, and who doesn’t like to be comforted in their times of need?
          The other night and depressed that I was, I baked a fulfilling quiche, a heartwarming apple pie, and cooked a bowl or two of mushroom and basil-laden spaghetti. And by heaven’s intervention I was able to consume these warm, hearty, and savory dishes that were enough to make me feel good inside. The slice of quiche in my mouth equated to an explosion made of tender chicken bits, tasty bacon strips, soft cheese cubes, bitter-sweet spinach, rich cream, and the added dash of my favorite hot sauce made things more interesting. The same goes for the hot slice of apple pie – the tart of the apple contradicts the sweetness of the brown sugar and the bitter after-taste of the nutmeg is sensational, especially when a scoop of my favorite vanilla ice cream was added the difference in temperature juxtaposed and left my mouth craving for more. Almost full that I was, I was still able to munch the bowl of pasta and by my standards (a frustrated chef and food critic) it was worth the pounds I will gain.
For people who needs comfort, we find it everywhere. We even find comfort where understanding and love are not present. For me, I turn into food because it reminds me of my family. We love to share food and we talk when there is food abound. It is our common denominator not because we are a family of “healthy” individuals but because there is emotional investment every time food is present, so for me that’s how comfortable food gets.