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A history of food processing

(article, Culinate staff)

Nourishing the Planet, one of several food blogs maintained by the nonprofit Worldwatch Institute, recently ran an essay on food processing. Under discussion: whether modern food-processing techniques, and the effects they have on nutritional content in food, will become the next big issue in food reform.

Author Wayne Roberts summarizes three eras of food-processing innovation, ranging from traditional (fermenting, salting, etc.) to early-industrial (canning) to contemporary (highly scientific). He also posits a historical distinction between food reformers and nutritionists:

bq. The food movement, largely a force of the last 20 years, grew out of efforts to protect local family farms, address issues of hunger and want, promote environmental sustainability, conserve biodiversity, reclaim the spirituality, mindfulness, pleasures, places, cultures and terroir of food, and foster a new crop of food artisans with ambitions to combine community, health and economic benefits. . . . \[But\] nutrition has rarely been front and center of the food movement. 

As the food-reform movement expands, however, Roberts predicts that the health and nutritional consequences of eating so much high-tech, heavily processed food will become a bigger target.