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Ultra Processed Food.

incorporating Recipes and Cooking
Lemon Half
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Ultra Processed Food.


Postby redsturgeon » February 13th, 2020, 8:35 am

What's that I hear you say.

Have a read of this interesting long article in the Guardian to find out and why it might be important. ... s-monteiro

In a nutshell you can classify foods into four categories from raw/minimally processed to ultra processed stuff like biscuits and snacks that contain a long list of non food ingredients just to get them to taste good.

Guess which are better for you!

I always try to cook from the basic ingredients and as a non meat eater find myself suspicious of fake meat products that seem to me to fit the ultra processed mould.

I realise that it is sometimes more convenient to go for something ready made but it seems it is definitely to be avoided.


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Re: Ultra Processed Food.


Postby kempiejon » February 13th, 2020, 8:56 am

redsturgeon wrote:I always try to cook from the basic ingredients and as a non meat eater find myself suspicious of fake meat products that seem to me to fit the ultra processed mould.

John, I've had this type of conversation quite a few times recently, especially with those trying Veganuary. I don't exclude any food groups from my diet I've always had some meat free meals each week and have over recent years increased them and my consumption of fish. Those trying Veganuary seem to have mentioned Jackfruit pulled pork, Quorn sausages and burgers, Facon, veggie mince, Greggs vegan sausage rolls and steak slices and watermelon steak and what horror is vegan cheese? Very little talk about just cooking with raw materials just not using flesh/dairy/eggs.
My idea of vegan/veggie cooking is just using the vegetables, mushrooms, beans, pulses, cereals etc, not trying to buy protein to be fake meat, I will admit to tofu and tempah though.

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Re: Ultra Processed Food.


Postby Loup321 » February 13th, 2020, 11:31 am

I like cooking from scratch, and I don't see why vegetarian food needs to have veggie sausages in it. But I am a bit confused over the idea that vegans need vitamin supplements. Surely if you need to take supplements, your diet is not natural. By natural, I mean one that your body and diet have evolved together. Now, I think that vitamin B12 is only available from meat because the animals themselves are given B12 supplements. I think it used to come from the soil, but now that animals are kept mostly indoors, they don't know what soil is, so need vitamin B12.

I'm going to continue with my small amounts of chicken and fish, and no supplements, until the doctor tells me I have to take them. But I never bothered with the recommended supplements during pregnancy or breast feeding, and didn't give them to my daughter. We both seem fit and healthy. I'm either storing up problems for the future (which all the doctors and popular press would have me believe), or just living naturally.

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Re: Ultra Processed Food.


Postby vrdiver » February 13th, 2020, 12:02 pm

An interesting article. In a nutshell, the closer you can get to the original, fresh food, the better (so fresh tomatoes rate more highly than tinned tomatoes, regardless of the quality of the tomato - organic, grown from chemical fertiliser etc).

At the start of the article I did get a feel of "get over yourself", and was somewhat confused by the addition of diet cola into the list of foods that are likely to increase obesity, but by the end of the article, my sympathies had turned. Possibly because I was dunking my sixth gingernut into my cup of tea at that point...

A friend who used to run a food manufacturer once described his job as "the art of selling air and water". The more of either of these that they could add to the formulation, the more profitable any item was likely to be. E.g. any time you fry a piece of bacon (with tri- or polyphosphates added) and watch it shrivel to nothing, that's his work in action.

Being a food processor is about selling and making a profit. It's not about providing a healthy diet - that's up to us as individuals, with the government setting the rules of the game (i.e. what food manufacturers are allowed to do, what advertisers and labellers can do, and what, if any, tax breaks or penalties are operating).

Unfortunately for us, processed food (at least in bulk) is higher margin than "natural" food, hence more profitable, which tends to skew its attractiveness to revenue hungry governments, the same way that alcohol and smoking might be considered cash cows at a treasury level, rather than cankers to be rooted out.

As a vegetarian I've noticed a dramatic increase in the number of brands of non-meat meats. I can buy "fresh" mince that looks just like it came from a butcher's mincer, rather than just frozen pellets of soya etc. Unfortunately (for the vegetarian / ecological sanity argument) any meat eater can point to the Nova scoring system and claim that their steak is better for you than the vegetarian processed meat substitute. Whether that's true in total diet, I doubt (but without any evidence) but at the overall population level I wonder if it still holds true? Trying to get people to eat less meat but letting them enjoy the same dishes as before (e.g. a mince based bolognese) becomes harder if the message about health says the vegetarian option is less healthy...

Whilst people are expected to work harder for longer, I don't really see an end to the processed food direction-of-travel. Only when people have both leisure time and access to fresh foods (and an interest) will home cooking start to recover its popularity. Until then, diets will continue to decline in quality as convenience and cost will drive decisions.

Perhaps pressure from increased costs of healthcare may redirect government efforts, but long term benefits vs short term costs have not usually* had satisfactory results at a government action level.

It will be interesting to see where this work goes. Thanks for the link to the article.


*not usually, as opposed to never.

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Re: Ultra Processed Food.


Postby UncleEbenezer » February 13th, 2020, 12:48 pm

Cooked food is, by definition, pretty highly processed. I like processed food! The soup I brewed up yesterday from a huge marrow, lots of lentils, tomatoes, a big spanish onion, and flavoursome ginger, chilli and garlic, was a big success. I like to think it was also reasonably healthy. But chopping, frying, simmering, blending, liquidising - yes, it's pretty highly processed. And that's before the processed non-home-cooked supplements: the pasta added for texture and bulking it; the cheese grated over it.

As a rule I avoid imitation-meat products, most of which are pretty poor substitutes for the meat they imitate. But that's not an outright ban: just a few of them actually taste rather good once in a while. For example, I have in the fridge a pack of the only sausages I like: Cauldron's Lincolnshire-style sausages[1], fried with a little tomato, mushroom, onion and pepper make a pleasant bangers-and-mash. I wonder which is more unhealthy: the meal, or the glass of hearty red wine that goes nicely with it?

[1] Not to be confused with its tasteless Cumberland-style stablemate.

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Re: Ultra Processed Food.


Postby redsturgeon » February 13th, 2020, 9:22 pm

Like anything, one can take things too far eg. the fresh raw food only vegans. Of course any cooked food is processed as is any pickled or fermented food but there is evidence that fermented foods are a good thing for one's gut biome and thus general health.

Clearly if one's diet consists mainly of ultra processed products containing high levels of trans fats and sugar then this is not going to be optimal but the occasional McVities chocolate biscuit is not going to kill you.

Also , it seems to me unclear that say tinned tomatoes are any worse for you than fresh just because they are processed more. In fact see here ... rong-bones

for why tinned tomatoes might even be better for you than fresh. Similarly cooking mushrooms enables your body to access more of the nutrients than eating raw.

My own view is that variety in food intake is generally a good thing, and if you want that variety to include meat and you are comfortable with the ramifications of that in terms of animal welfare and environmental concerns then that's fine by me but it is also clear that in many developed countries
people tend to eat too much meat and not enough vegetables.

I'd recommend Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for a longer look at some of these issues (it is an interesting read not dry at all)


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