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More Processing = Less Healthy

More Processing = Less Healthy

We live in a time-pressured, busy world. Between work, socializing, events, practices, you name it, who has time to cook food? And even if it's novel and fun for a bit, it can get old. Convenient food is just easier and lets us navigate our lives more effectively. 

This focus on convenience is the story of processed food. Nicola Temple wrote an excellent essay on about how humanity has changed the food it eats, and the central point that she makes is:

"It is not only why we process food, but how we process food that has changed dramatically with time."

The why makes perfect sense - historically, we needed to store food for periods when it wasn't growing or available. And this type of processing changed the food somewhat, but the impact was minimal and primarily locked in most of the nutrition until households consumed it later. So the emphasis was on preserving food, not changing it.

But then enter other human and cultural factors:

  • A spreading/traveling species who suffered from malnutrition on long trips.
  • Legislation meant to allow some time off for the middle class.
  • More dual-income middle-class families, striving to better their lives.

All of these led to opportunities for food manufacturers to create inexpensive, easy-to-prepare, highly processed foods. And for a long time, we happily bought them, unaware of what they were doing to our health. And food marketing didn't help at all, often misleading consumers about health benefits and nutrition.

Today, we have a much better understanding of what we put in our bodies and how that impacts our health. We're continuously developing a deeper understanding of how our bodies are designed to operate and marveling at the complexity and beauty of what God created. Which ultimately comes back to putting food in our bodies that is unadulterated by chemicals. Food prepared in a way that is as close to natural as possible. Food, where its nutrition is the most critical factor, not convenience or pleasure. Food, eaten the way God designed our bodies to use it.

Don't get me wrong; convenience is a beautiful attribute. It's why we pre-cook and freeze Dorothy's Power Foods. But short-cuts or additives that lead to more convenience aren't always good things, and it doesn't have to mean compromise. Instead, we can find ways to make food convenient, healthy, and nourishing, all at the same time. It takes a little thinking and hard work, but the benefits are tremendous: health, better lives, and better communities.

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