FOOD PROCESSING AND FOOD REFINING
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© July 2020, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
This is a very large subject, about which entire books are written. Throughout time, mankind has eaten most food fresh. Crops were picked and eaten, or animals were eaten quickly before the meat spoiled.
However, eating food fresh is not always possible, for example during the winter when the crops did not grow. Animal foods also were often harvested in one season and needed to be preserved so they could be eaten later in the year. As a result, people learned how to alter most foods to preserve them and at times, to alter their flavor or texture for various reasons such as to make them tastier. These methods are called food processing or food refining.
Some food processing methods are helpful, and allow us to have certain foods all year round. Others are not nearly as nutritious or safe, and should be avoided. The rest of this article discusses different methods of food processing and refining.
MAJOR TYPES OF FOOD PROCESSING
There are hundreds of ways to process food to make it taste better, to preserve it, or for other reasons. Here are some of the most important ways that are used today.
Freezing. We have learned that this is not a helpful method of keeping vegetables. We do not recommend frozen vegetables! We also do not like freezing milk of any kind. Freezing meat is okay, however.
We now believe that chemicals are added to frozen vegetables that damage the vegetables. They are not on the labels! One of them is EDTA, a chelating agent that preserves the color of the vegetables but removes some minerals from the food.
Drying. This is one of the most ancient methods of preserving some meats, and some fruits and vegetables. Foods were generally dried in the sun, though today often they are dried in large ovens. This can be okay for some foods, and some dried vegetables are okay.
Freeze drying. This is a modern method. It is done with special machines that can extract the moisture in the food as it is being cooled at the same time. We use freeze-dried glandular products and they seem to work the best of any glandular products. Some camping and trail foods are made this way as well, but we donŐt recommend these as much. The meat is probably okay, but not the vegetables.
Vacuum packing. This method is only fair, in our view. Meats are now sold this way and they are not as good as fresh meats.
Packaging in a gas other than air. This is a relatively modern method of food preservation. The most common application is to pack cereal grains or other dried food in a 5-gallon bucket or other sealed container. The air is removed and replaced with nitrogen gas, or some other gas that does not support bacterial or fungal growth as much. This can preserve food for 10 or more years by inhibiting the growth of mold or bacteria.
However, it is best to eat foods as fresh as possible. While this method is okay for long-term emergency food storage, perhaps, it is usually not needed if food is dried and packaged correctly, and the nitrogen may affect the food quality to some degree.
Fermenting. This is a very old method of preserving food. We do not recommend fermented foods, in general, because the food becomes very yin in macrobiotic terms. We allow some miso, sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt and kefir only! For adults, the total amount of dairy products should not exceed 4 ounces daily. This is because dairy products, with the exception of 8 ounces per week of goat yogurt, do not contain the correct chemicals to promote rapid development.
Most other fermented foods such as kimchi, pickles and kombucha tea are toxic with aldehydes. Please avoid these foods!
We allow some fermented foods mainly because the ones we suggest contain bacteria or other nutrients that are helpful.
Smoking. This is another ancient method in which fish, meats and perhaps other foods are basically dried in a smoke house. This is an enclosed shelter in which the smoke is allowed to penetrate the food. This adds flavor to the food while the hot, dry air dries out the food to help preserve it. This method is okay, and smoked sardines, for example, are fine.
Pickling. Pickling is the process whereby food such as cucumbers are soaked in a salt solution, perhaps with vinegar, and often with other added chemicals and ferments or yeasts, for up to a month or longer. It is another ancient method. As a result, the food is broken down to some degree and the taste is altered. It also preserves the cucumbers, herring or other food.
This method is not as recommended because it is very yin and usually has a number of chemicals added to the food.
Salting. Salt preserves food because it pulls the moisture out of the food so that bacteria will not grow as readily. However, it is not used much and salt-preserved food is irritating and not good.
Canning. Canning is an ancient way to preserve vegetables and other foods. In our view, it is not ideal, but it is better than frozen vegetables.
Sardines. These cannot be bought fresh because they spoil so quickly. Sardines are actually a wonderful food product rich in omega-3 fatty acids, RNA and DNA, which are nucleic acids, they have bones which are edible and the spinal cord is very edible as well. They are best prepared by immediately being placed in a metal can with olive oil or spring water, and then they are cooked in the can. In this way, they will last several years and most of the nutrients are preserved.
Preserving with sugar or honey. Sugar and honey can preserve some foods by an osmotic process that kills most germs on contact. In fact, placing sugar or honey in a wound may kill the germs in the wound much better than antibiotics, with much less toxicity. We do not recommend sugar-preserved food. It is too yin and too sweet.
Refining away parts of the food that spoil. To preserve wheat, for instance, the germ and bran are often removed, leaving the familiar white flour product. This is mostly starch and most bugs and animals will not eat it, so it keeps much longer than whole wheat which bugs will eat.
Sugar cane is often refined by separating it into sugar and molasses. The sugar has very little nutrition, and keeps well. The molasses has most of the minerals, especially iron, which feeds bacteria and does not keep well.
Rice is often processed to remove the outer hull or part and the rice bran. Once again, this is the most nutritious part and the part that spoils the easiest. That which remains is called white rice, a far inferior product that keeps well because bugs donŐt generally like to eat it.
Unfortunately, these methods of refining cereal grains remove the best part of the grain that contains the most vitamins and minerals and other beneficial substances. As a result, people who live on white flour, white rice and white sugar quickly become extremely depleted in minerals and vitamins, many of which are needed just to digest the cereal. This, sadly, is the condition of most of mankind today who have been raised on these foods. We think these foods should be illegal.
Modern chemical preservatives. Chemicals can be added to foods to preserve their color, flavor, or to inhibit mold and bacteria growth. Some are anti-oxidants such as vitamin C or vitamin E. These are okay to eat.
Many, however, are artificial chemicals that are somewhat toxic. They are numerous and a few well-known ones are BHA, BHT, sodium benzoate, nitrites, nitrates, sulfites to preserve color, EDTA and other chelators to preserve food color, and others.
Many of these chemicals are irritating to the digestive tract and may be toxic for humans in other ways. We do not recommend eating any food preserved in this way.