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Why is food being processed?

Here at TastyBasics, we believe in the power of unprocessed food. Our philosophy is very simple: we develop food that is in fact nutritional and that helps us to do well. We realize this through developing our products on the basis of so called Whole Foods, such as nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit. Doesn’t sound very special/extraordinary, does it? But it is because the standard in the food industry is (overly) processing. The question is: why? Why is the norm to process food?

Raw ingredients are being processed to obtain the purest possible form of an ingredient in order to produce x amount of product at the same quality at all times. This standard has manifested itself because consumers want the same quality when (re-)purchasing a good.  Hence, the industry found a way to ensure that by processing and treating the raw ingredients.

Agricultural products such as potatoes or grain are processed in factories in ways that pure starch or white flour is obtained at the end. Technically, only certain nutrients of an ingredient are isolated. These specific properties of nutrients can then be reinforced in complied end product. In the end, these separated nutrients can always be put back together to the same end product by manufactures.

Back in the day, a little variation in product was quite normal. Influential factors then were the seasons or the type of grain that would affect the outcome of the end product. Nowadays, products are uniform because the basic raw ingredients barely vary.


We take our health for granted

Over processing our food has disadvantages. Most importantly for our health. While important nutrients are lost during processing, others become overconcentrated in the product self to which our body responses.

A cereal grain contains starch and carbohydrates as well as fibers and vitamins. In its natural, “whole” form it is a balanced mix. If it is taken apart and only certain nutrients are put back into the end product, it is no longer balanced. Most likely, fibers are lost and an excessive amount of carbohydrates is created. Why more carbs and less fibers? Because carbohydrates are a “handy” for the industry. With starch, sugar and fat a product can be given certain properties Let’s zoom in on that.


Starch for crunchiness

Using starch in its pure form, obtained from potatoes, is an easy way to make a product “crunchy”. It is far more difficult to make a crunchy product from an unprocessed ingredient than with pure starch.
Legumes also contain starch as well as fibers and proteins. However, fibers and proteins get in the way when wanting to crisp up a cookie, cracker, or breadcrumbs. As a consequence, the “disturbing” nutrients are removed despite their value.


Sugar, because is it cheap

Sugar can be profitably extracted from high-yielding sugar beets. These sugar beets have been bred in such a way that they very effectively convert sunlight into sugar. To extract the sugar, the beet is extremely processed in large factories. This way, a lot of sugar is won at a low cost. Looking at the cost per calorie, sweetness harvested from fruit are 20 times more expensive than sugar from beets. However, sugar does not contain any nutritional value, but the price of products with sugar is extremely low and sugar naturally makes products sweet. We are collectively addicted to sweet flavors and manufacturers know it. Humans love sweetness from an evolutionary point of view, so manufactures to add it.


Fat for taste

Fat has many calories per gram. High-calorie food is tasty, which is also evolutionarily determined.

By processing fat into margarine or shortening, the amount of fat in an end product is increased. Fat is tasty, but too much of it affects our taste as well. Lots of fat makes for a product high in calories whilst the nutritional value per calorie devolves immensely.

When thinking of fat, deep-frying also is an occurrent. Fried products are liked by many, however, frying in pure palm oil is not possible because fibers and proteins burn in hot fat. Instead of using pure palm oil, manufactures use processed fat.


In summary

Unprocessed, ‘whole’ ingredients are inconvenient for food manufacturers, but better for our body. By using raw ingredients in an end product, valuable nutrients, fibers and proteins are maintained. That is why TastyBasics prefers to take the “inconvenient” route. Every day, we take on the challenge of developing tasty, crunchy and healthy products from unprocessed raw materials. This is only the beginning for us.  More goodies are coming, pinky promise!

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