Processing of food starts from farms. Fresh produce is collected, processed, and prepared in various ways, from farms to tables.
However, today, the term “processed food” is also linked to a negative connotation. This immediately creates a mental picture of instant noodles and other just-add-water meals that can be fittingly categorized as “ultra-processed food.”
Modern solutions and innovations in food processing have contributed to improving nutrition, reducing food waste, and providing more leisure time to eaters. But on the other side, heavily processed food may also lead to increased body weight and crooked teeth if not moderately consumed.
Hundreds of years ago, humans’ connection to food was far more different than how we see or process them in the present.
Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis had smaller teeth, as based on their skull sizes. If food was easier to chew at that time, then there could have been changes in their tooth size and face shape. The only way that this could have been fulfilled is through the existence of cooked food that demands less chewing.
Different internal and external forces drove food innovation over the years, such as war, malnutrition, supply and demand, food safety and security, food waste, and sustainability.
The long list of these driving factors includes convenience. Not only have the reasons for food processing have changed, but also how we process them, such as the smaller amount of time devoted to meal preparation.
Another example is cheesemaking. From the discovery of cheese, to the massive production of different cheese types across the world, to it being a major source of protein, and up to how manufacturers modified the whole cheesemaking process to enhance its flavor.
This shows how food is a complex topic to ponder on, and that present consumers have the right to access information on how their food is processed by manufacturers.
While modern ways and technological advancements help in food security and mitigating environmental impacts of food processing and production, this could also pave the way for food manufacturers to be richer by processing food inappropriately.