Reject ‘Convenience’ Foods | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 91 Issue 47 | p. 4 | Letters
Issue Date: November 25, 2013

Reject ‘Convenience’ Foods

Department: Letters

The cover story “Healthier Food, by Stealth” reads like an apology for processed foods (C&EN, Sept. 16, page 11). Habitual consumption of convenience foods is excused as an inevitable consequence of our overscheduled lifestyles, while advocates of unprocessed foods are stereotyped as “very elitist.”

The parallels between fast foods today and tobacco use 50 years ago are striking: widespread consumption, devastating health effects, heavy advertising, powerful lobbying, and denial of any harm or addiction. The campaign to modestly reduce sugar and salt in processed foods is reminiscent of discredited attempts to make a safe cigarette. These efforts give scientists employment but keep everyone addicted to bad stuff. Is this what science is about?

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Instead of impulsively buying highly processed convenience foods, why not shop for tasty fruits, vegetables, and grain products and learn to cook? Beyond the culinary pleasure, you can be much healthier and save a pile of money on groceries. And you will know what is in your diet—a bit of pesticide residues and preservatives but without the soup of additives designed to satisfy unhealthy cravings.

William K. Wilson

Chemical & Engineering News
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Robert Buntrock (December 3, 2013 4:09 PM)
The alleged parallels between tobacco use and fast food consumption are bad analogies. Tobacco use produces exposure to known toxic substances, even in moderation as well as exposure to others via 2nd and 3rd hand smoke. Even fast foods contain nutrients and although overuse can be detrimental, they do not typically contain toxic agents. They also do not exhibit classic addiction. Reduction of salt and sugars in foods bears no resemblance to making "safe" cigarettes. Please identify the additives "designed to satisfy unhealthy cravings". Most if not all are acting as taste and shelf life preservatives. Also define "highly processed foods" as much misinformation is broadcast about these processes. I also find it remarkable that you acknowledge that pesticide residues and preservatives exist in your allegedly more healthy diet, counterproductive to most crusades against processed foods.

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