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Pondering Positives Of Processed Foods

"Processed foods have become the default for everything negative," co-presenter Lindsey Loving said at the ADA conference. Some think there is reason for that.

Are all processed foods bad?

During this past weekend’s annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo of the American Dietetic Association, one session looked at how processed foods can be good.

Positives Of Processing

“A Fresh Look at Processed Foods” featured experts speaking on the positives of processing. They argued it wasn’t the processing that ruined the health content of the food — instead people should be “selective.”

“It is not a good recommendation to think people can have ‘fresh’ and ‘local’ foods meet all their nutrient needs,” head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University Connie Weaver says.

She argues that people depend on processed foods due to transportation and availability.

Cooking Light editor Scott Mowbray points out anything done to fresh food is considered “processing.”

He stresses that the importance lies in “what’s left in the package is healthy.”

Staff members, in their annual “best of” shopping market foods issue, combed ingredients lists for healthy — and not so healthy — items, like excess sodium or too many stabilizers.

Foods like oatmeal and yogurt topped the list of healthy processed foods.

Where Do The Loyalties Lie?

Not everyone was applauding processed food’s “healthy” makeover. As the ADA conference grows, so does its corporate sponsorship.

At this year’s conference, displays from Monsanto, Hershey’s, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, to name a few, littered the floor.

The Hunger and Environmental Nutrition practice group is one of the fastest-growing groups ADA members can join. Focusing on issues like antibiotic use in animals and social justice, the group is sometimes “uncomfortably at odds” with other mainstream messages.

Some HEN members have deflected, avoided the ADA umbrella altogether.

“Corporate sponsorship from Coca-Cola and Hershey’s broke the camel’s back for a lot of members,” committee member for HEN and registered dietician Ashley Colpaart said.

Read More:

  • Processed foods…can be good for you? (Washington Post)
  • Big Food exerts unhealthy influence on America’s nutritionists (Grist)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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