When you think of “processed foods” the center aisles of the grocery store probably come to mind. I imagine rows and rows of brightly colored packages filled with chemical concoctions disguised as foods.
But I have news for you. Some “real” foods have to be processed before they can be sold in the stores. Does that make them “processed foods?” I don’t think so.
On my recent trip to Sacramento to learn more about the walnut industry, we visited a walnut orchard and then saw how the nuts are prepared for sale at the Mariani Nut Factory. Yes, indeed, they get the once over. But the good stuff – the meaty nut inside the shell, is not altered. Sure, it gets broken or ground into smaller bits, but the nut itself, including the nutrient content remains the same.
Farmers “bud” the desired variety of walnut onto hearty root stock, which is painted white to prevent sunburn. (Seriously!)
After the trees grow big and tall…
…the nuts are shaken to the ground for harvesting.
And while some of us are lucky enough to buy them as-is from the farmer’s market, the rest of us buy them at the store, where they come packaged. But in order for that to happen, they have to be processed. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They are still a real food, right from the tree. But they have to be cleaned, cracked, and picked over so that we can bring home the best possible product.
Are walnuts processed? Yes. But are they “processed food?” Not so much. To me, they are simply real food, in a package.
Food for thought: aside from items in the produce aisle, what are the least processed ingredients in your pantry or refrigerator?
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