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10 Jul

Processed-Foods

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Much Adieu About Processed Foods

The other day I wanted to make something to eat.  I was standing in my kitchen staring in the fridge and looking at the pantry when I realized, much to my surprise, I have quite a bit of highly processed foods in my very own home!

This was shocking to me because over the past two years I have, for the most part, eliminated processed food from my diet.  If it comes from a drive through window, a box, a can or a bag, it is likely I will not eat it.  This lifestyle change has made a dramatic and positive impact on my health, my weight, my mood and my energy levels.  Some of this stuff, like canned goods, had been in the pantry for a while, others were in with baking stuff.  Some I had recently purchased, but none of it was real food.  None of it was wholesome or nutritious, and there was nothing I actually wanted to eat at all.  I found myself standing there in shock thinking “Why do I even have all this crap!?!”

So I decided to dispose of it, to purge my home of processed foods and (finally) get this vial and iniquitous lack of sustenance out of my home once and for all.  It felt liberating to say “Adios, Ramen, Rotel and taco seasoning mix! Arrivederci, instant polenta, tomato sauce and Kraft macaroni and cheese, you give me the blue box blues! Adieu to you canned fruits and veggies, cookie, cake and muffin mix, sugar-free jello and instant pudding, too!”

When I was done, I realized there was actually quite a large quantity of this so-called “food” sitting on the table.  My original intent was to throw it all in the trash. Then I thought, that’s pretty wasteful, maybe I should donate it to a food bank?  But then I was even more conflicted as I wondered, is it morally right to give food I don’t personally feel is fit for human consumption away to others?  Even if it meant it would provide them with a meal they might not have had otherwise?  Could I honestly feel good about giving someone a bag of toxic rations?  What is the right thing to do?  Would it be better to break it all down dispose of the ingredients and send the containers off to the recycle bin?

I’m sincerely conflicted about this because both have a negative impact.  I’m interested to hear what others think.  I’m curious to hear from others, what do you think I should do?

UPDATE: I sincerely appreciate everyone’s comments and feedback.  I decided to donate the food to the North Texas Food Bank because they are really short on food reserves at this time of year, and I agree that it would be better for some one to have a meal than go without even though I would personally rather go without food than eat a meal made with a bunch of processed foods.

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  1. Paige Weaver
    July 10th, 2012 at 19:32 | #1

    Donate it. If it's a matter of someone having no food or processed food… I find the choice to be an easy one. And most of the food you've got on that table is probably nutritionally better than what many people eat…I see a good amount of vegetables and beans and grains. There are much more highly processed things out there.

    I totally agree with you on limiting processed foods. I've been trying to do that and I absolutely feel better. But something to remember — even if you eat 100% unprocessed at home, you really don't know what you're getting at restaurants. Many of the ingredients they use come from a can or are frozen or are fried in questionable oils. So for me, I try to eat unprocessed at home and just stay aware of what could be in the food I eat at restaurants. It's all about moderation, yo!

    • Kimberly Thornburg
      July 10th, 2012 at 19:37 | #2

      I agree with Paige – processed food over no food at all. Great idea – I've been wanting to kick processed foods out of my life, but didn't know how well that would translate for someone who doesn't eat a lot of veggies :) You've inspired me though! Do you have any recipe or book recommendations?

  2. July 10th, 2012 at 19:35 | #3

    No brainer. Donate it.

  3. Sarah Jorgensen
    July 13th, 2012 at 19:50 | #4

    I'm confused. You note that you have, for the most part, eliminated processed foods from your diet for the past two years. But then you say you have bought some of these products recently. If so, why did you buy them if you didn't intend to eat them? THAT seems pretty wasteful, to me.

    Additionally, if some of these products WERE purchased more than two years ago, before you made a concerted effort to clean up your diet (congrats on that by the way, I did it many years ago and I feel great!), I encourage you to check the use by dates before attempting to donate them. If they are past date, they won't be accepted, no matter how heavily or lightly processed they are.

    Lastly, you should check the donation policies of your local food bank before you start questioning whether it's "morally right" to give this kind of food to them. Most don't take fresh donations because 1) they can't guarantee they will use them in a certain amount of time 2) they can't guarantee that they are safe to consume (not cross-contaminated, poisoned, etc.) As lovely as it would be to bake a few loaves of fresh bread, make some pasta, and a huge salad to bring to the food bank using organic, local ingredients, most wouldn't accept it.

    • April 4th, 2013 at 13:49 | #5

      I apologize for not responding to your comment, I’m not sure how I didn’t see it before. As I said in the article, some things I had for a while others were more recent but obviously I intended to eat them when I originally bought them. Eliminating processed foods has been a pretty major lifestyle change that has happened slowly over time. None of the items had expired. I was morally conflicted because I don’t find the food to be healthy. That was my own issue, which had nothing to do with the food bank’s policy. Also if you saw the picture, the items were non-perishables mostly in boxes in cans. There were no fresh items. At any rate, I did end up donating everything to the North Texas Food Bank, and they were very happy to receive the donation.