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Reject ‘Convenience’ Foods

November 25, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 47

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


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