Thursday, December 9, 2010

Marion Nestle, Ultra-Processing and Why I Do This Blog

There are special moments when I read articles about obesity and I get this buzzing sense of urgency. Like the problem is so out of control that something must be done! I feel so small and in one corner of the internet, what I want to shout out loud is dwarfed by louder voices. But I can't help but get frustrated out by all the nutritionism misinformation. So many people talking about nutrients and vitamins and protein molecules, like they have even had one post-high-school organic chemistry class (puh-lease). My feeling from the very beginning has been, don't overthink things, eat real food, don't get lost in rules, and enjoy your life.

I also saw from the beginning of my food evolution that proper eating was about eating unprocessed foods, whole foods. Modern foods bring up a whole host of issues, sustainability, cleanliness and safety, agribusiness and the modern industrial food complex, the viability of small producers, the role of small family farming,the ethical treatment of animals, the health of our livestock, proper nutrition, the civil right of every person to have access to clean, safe, nutrient rich food, gastronomy, obesity, diabetes and other food related diseases, the impact of food related diseases on our healthcare system, the list could go on forever. Food and our food system is SO complex. And many of us Internet nerds (myself included) sometimes get way too caught up in whether something is 100% Whole Wheat or only half white and half whole wheat or if that brand of canned tomatoes is produced by an organic manufacturer that is actually owned by Nestle or Con Agra.

If I could write my own future, I would be an activist and writer to educate people about eating processed vs unprocessed foods. I love fermented vegetables, I love local foods, but when I think about why I started this blog back on May 4th I know in my heart I was thinking about the 70% of our population that is overweight or obese. I am thinking about the people who eat crummy food because the outside of the package says it will help them lower their cholesterol. I am thinking about the people whose insulin system is beginning to peter out because they really don't know that they are eating too many grains. I guess I always imagined that I could help people by spreading the word that one could be a full time mom, a full time employee and still manage to keep your self healthy and navigate the modern food complex. I have tried never to claim that I eat 100% local, or 100% organic, or 100% sustainable. Those are all good goals, and if I can ever attain them, then I am getting there one day at a time. But I hope that this blog will reach people who think it CAN'T be done by someone who has an already full life and bills to pay and friends and family to visit with.

That being said, Marion Nestle has recently written two lovely articles about Ultra-Processing which I think clearly defines the problem. Food manufacturers are first producing ingredients that are so processed that they provide few nutrients, then they are creating products out of those ingredients and selling them back to us, sometimes as health foods. I find that Nestle and the articles she cites clearly explain the issues, and how we are being taken advantage by some major food manufacturers. I think these articles go to the very heart of why I write my blog, because people don't know this stuff. Many people think of Coke and Mc Donald's as processed foods, but what about Cheerios or UHT milk? Most people would put those into the healthy category. There is alot of confusion for sure.

So do yourself a favor. Click on the links and take a look at what she and her colleagues have to say. I wish I could share that link with everyone. Perhaps then they would view a grocery store like I do, a place to be prepared, educated and on the lookout for non-food in disguise.

This post is part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays.

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