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Jul. 22, 2005
New Orleans: The City of Processed Foods???
Last night, I returned from New Orleans. I was there attending an ingredient convention for the international food industry. It is funny because when I was in college, I thought that these people were so cool - I mean, isn't it awesome to learn how to disect foods and break out individual components from them, then add those things to something else?

Well, let's just say that my opinion about that has made a complete 180! In fact, walking around that show somewhat horrifys me these days. These ingredient companies tout "healthy foods" but fail to respect one of the basic truths about healthy food -- that healthy food is made up of whole foods, not just pieces of them. Of course, this would be not be a profitable stance to take, since they are selling these components at a much higher price than the original food actually costs.

For example, the subject of whole grains and fiber were big at the show. These companies showcase their fibers in highly processed foods and describe them as "health foods". A cookie made with refined white flour, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and high fructose corn syrup is not a healthy food just because it has processed fiber added to it! This is not a whole grain food... it is a processed food that is fortified with fiber. Let's hope that when the FDA issues the whole grain health claims, they take these issues into consideration and stop these companies from delivering misleading messages.

I believe that forification to some degree is fine, there are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that people are deficient in, but is it ethical to mix them with completely unhealthy ingredients and then call it a health food?

I was also disappointed to see the lack of organic foods at this show. I suppose they just don't fit into the world of highly processed foods, however, I had been hopeful that food developers might be catching on to the REAL health benefits of eating whole, minimally processed, organic foods. It appears that that industry is still not ready to go there, I suppose it will need to be a more profitable industry before these changes occur.

In the city famous for delicious (not necessarily healthy) food, it was quite a contradiction to spend several days amidst very mediocre, artificial, uninspiring items that these companies are trying to sell to the world as healthy, nourishing food.

I could not help to feel very fortunate to work for a company that believes in the power of whole, organic foods. We use real, whole food ingredients as the basis for our products and then boost the nutrition content above and beyond what is already in there. I think we are blazing the trail for the rest of the food industry. One day, these companies will be ready to put on their hiking boots and join us, especially if consumers keep asking for it!
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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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