The food industry is a complex, global collective of diverse businesses that supplies most of the food consumed by the world population
What we eat and how our food is produced changed more in the last 50 years then in the previous thirty thousand without most of us realize it , now our food is coming from huge assembly lines where the animals and the workers are abused and the food is becoming much more dangerous in deliberate ways. Food manufacturers combine ingredients that do not occur in natural food, notably the trilogy of sugar, processed fat and salt, in their most quickly digested, highly refined, nutrient-depleted forms. Manufactured foods often contain chemicals with known toxic properties – although, we are reassured that, at low levels, this is not a cause for concern. For at least the past decade, the big manufacturing companies have kept a low profile, hiding behind the creed of commercial confidentiality, claiming they can’t reveal their recipes because of competition, but is really that the reason.
Anything that comes in a box, tin, bag, carton or bottle has to bear a label listing its contents, and many of us have become experts at reading these labels. But many of the additives and ingredients that once jumped out as fake and unfathomable have quietly disappeared.Over the past few years, the food industry has embarked on an operation it dubs “clean label”, with the goal of removing the most glaring industrial ingredients and additives, replacing them with substitutes that sound altogether more benign and there are many processing aids that are not required by low to be showed on the label, for example treating the produce with citric acid along with other unnamed ingredients, adds 21 days to their shelf life. Treated in this way, carrots don’t develop that telltale white that makes them look old, cut apples don’t turn brown, pears don’t become translucent, melons don’t ooze and kiwis don’t collapse into a jellied mush; a dip in Nature Seal leaves salads “appearing fresh and natural”. For the salesman, this preparation was a technical triumph, a boon to caterers who would otherwise waste unsold food. Food engineers can now create a “natural” mature cheese flavouring by blending young, immature cheese with enzymes (lipases or proteases) that intensify the cheese flavour until it reaches “maturity” – within 24 to 72 hours. Nowadays we can make amazing cakes made entirely without eggs, butter or cream, thanks to the substitution of potato protein isolate. From water-injected poultry and powdered coagulated egg, to ultra-adhesive batters and pre-mixed marinades, the raw materials in industrial food manufacturing are rarely straightforward.Walk into any supermarket, and you’ll find rows of packaged foods boasting how healthy they are. From “fat-free” to “natural” to “helps your immune system,” front-of-the-box labels may give the appearance of good nutrition, but the reality is a bit more complicated.
WHAT YOUR FOOD LABEL ACTUALLY MEANS
Added vitamins – factory versions of natural vitamins found in whole foods: ascorbic acid (man-made vitamin C) is usually synthesised from the fermentation of GM corn, while artificial vitamin E is commonly derived from petrol.
Soluble fibre – better sounding term for modified starch, which is widely used to reduce the quantity of more nutritious ingredients in processed foods, and keep down manufacturers’ costs.
‘Natural’ colourings – the only difference between these and artificial ones is that they start with pigments that occur in nature. Otherwise, they are made using the same highly chemical industrial processes, including extraction using harsh solvents. Artificial ‘diet” sweeteners – several large-scale studies have found a correlation between artificial sweetener consumption and weight gain. Accumulating evidence suggests that they may also increase our risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Enzymes – used to make bread stay soft longer; injected into low-value livestock before slaughter, to tenderise their meat; and used in fruit juice processing to create a cloudier, more natural appearance.
‘Packaged in a protective atmosphere’ – food that has been “gassed” in modified air to extend its shelf life. It delays what food manufacturers call “warmed over flavour”, an off-taste that occurs in factory food.Beef/pork/poultry protein – collagen extracted from butchered carcasses, processed into a powder and added to low-grade meats. It adds bounce, increases the protein content on the nutrition label and, combined with water, is a substitute for meat. Washed and ready-to-eat salads – “cleaned” by sloshing around in tap water dosed with chlorine, often with powdered or liquid fruit acids to inhibit bacterial growth. The same tank of treated water is often used for 8 hours at a time.
‘Pure’ vegetable oil – industrially refined, bleached, deodorised oils. Food processors often add chemicals to extend their “fry life”.
‘Natural’ flavourings – even the flavour industry concedes that “there isn’t much difference in the chemical compositions of natural and artificial flavourings”. They are made using the same physical, enzymatic, and microbiological processes. Read the label, choose wisely.
Most of us have no idea how our food is made or where it comes from, most of us have no idea what’s going on at the “farms” and the slaughter houses or the processing plants that now feed us. From the beginning of history civilization has been made possible thanks to agricultural surpluses, this is what allowed people to move from the countryside to the city. No other industry is more important than agriculture, but now we cannot call it agriculture anymore, now we have to call it food factories.
The industrial food system began also with the fast food, in the 1930 a new kind of restaurant appeared called Drive-In and at the end of Second World War two brothers created a revolutionary idea about how to run a restaurant by cutting down costs and bringing the factory system to the back restaurant kitchen, these were the Mc’Donalds brothers and they did what Ford had done to the car industry.
The fast food industry has helped not only to transform the American and European diet but also the landscape, our economy , our agriculture and our habits. Today fast food may look like food that we have always been eating but is really something quite different, it has been radically transformed. That cheap, delicious burger and french fries that all of us have tasted and where many of us take their own children have created a different way of thinking about food and pushed us to give little importance about how is produced and where it comes from.
We have to think hard at buying and eating fast food, this manufactured industrial commodity that is changing our life. Fast food had become an unavoidable part of modern life and is one of the heavily processed food on the planet. Nowadays they use mainly frozen or dehydrated ingredients and there are all kinds of really unusual chemicals that go into this kind of food to increase flavour and make you eat more. More processing means more profits, but typically makes food less healthy. Minimally processed foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables obviously aren’t where food companies look for profits. The big bucks stem from turning government-subsidized commodity crops—mainly corn, wheat, and soybeans—into fast foods, snack foods, and beverages. High-profit products derived from these commodity crops are generally high in calories and low in nutritional value. Ultraprocessed foods, for example, lack fiber, micronutrients, and healthful plant substances called phytochemicals that protect against heart disease and diabetes.Junk food makers spend billions advertising unhealthy foods to kids. Food makers spend some $1.6 billion annually to reach children through the traditional media as well the Internet and in-store advertising. Promotions often use cartoon characters or free giveaways to entice kids into the junk food fold. On TV alone, the average child sees about 5,500 food commercials a year (or about 15 per day) that advertise high-sugar breakfast cereals, fast food, soft drinks, candy, and snacks. It’s a sad reality show but we are the spectators and there is nothing to laugh about. We all are influenced more or less and fooled about the fake cover of this massive industry that the only thing it cares about is a big profit at the end of the month ignoring the damage that creates to the society but we are the ones that choose to believe it. My advice to you is to invest in your health in the way you can afford to.
The organisation cannot trust the individual but the individual must trust the organisation. The industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you eating because if you knew, you might want not to eat it.