A Place for Processed.

Welcome to my garden. There are earwigs in my romaine lettuce and spiders on my green beans. I am not scared of bugs, but I am positively annoyed by them. I am also annoyed by having to wash my lettuce and spinach over and over to get it recipe ready.

These are some of the convenience drawbacks to having a garden and producing your own food. It’s great to be involved in every stage of growth, harvest, and [finally] eating. However, I argue that fruit and vegetable farmers provide excellent value to the home cook by doing this for us. It’s the absolute best kind of processed food out there.

Yes. You read correctly. I said something positive about processed food.

I recently learned the danger saying that ‘I avoid processed food.’ Dr. Jim Hill, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine and Executive Director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, shocked an entire group of health and fitness bloggers by “revealing” that baby carrots were a processed food. There were audible gasps of flabbergast.

The group was happily rattling off possible causes of obesity in the United States, including the prevalence of processed food. Healthy people like to feel self-righteous about certain things, especially the shunning of processed food. Dr. Hill helped me realize that processing whole foods for convenient use is great. The problems start when good ingredients are refined beyond recognition.

Modern farming and production techniques deliver some of my favorite ingredients, like old fashioned oats, frozen peas, and ready-to-eat spinach.

Jeanette Bessinger helped me understand this even more in her book Simple Food for Busy Families. She uses the terms “refined” and “intact” to differentiate between industrialized junk and real food. For example, a potato chip is refined and a fresh potato is intact. These terms help me when I am grocery shopping for my family.

I rely on industrial processes to feed my family well. There’s something to be said for not having to thresh and winnow my wheat before I grind it into flour. Talk about flour being a processed, convenience food! I will always enjoy gardening, but I will really enjoy the convenience of buying romaine hearts without any earwigs.

What process do you appreciate most? The cutting in pre-cut fruit? The cooking to make canned black beans? Let us know in the comments below, on the Don’t Panic Mom Facebook Page, or on Twitter.

1 Comment

  1. katie says:

    I have never been anti-processed either. It would kill,me. but I am rather picky about my processed foods. Throughout the winter I am very grateful for canned sweet corn. I am also grateful for the pre-grinding of my wheat. Another great post Alli!

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