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 appétit!