The decision between processed and local food

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Orlando Huaman*

We all know that this planet have problems of hunger and malnutrition, about 900 million people.  Remember obesity is malnutrition, an illness. All United Nations members have committed themselves to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. 

Let us face it: the true cause of hunger is not due to natural disasters. Neither is due to draught, nor due to earthquakes or hurricanes. Neither also due to the growth of the population. The true cause of hunger is of human origin.

In other words due to the economic policies dictated upon the poor countries, by the “biggies”.

So in order to eradicate hunger the problem is not how much food is available  but how to distribute it  and have access to it. Amen! 

So the challenge is there: to produce more food. Double by 2050. That can be done- science and technology will arise to the challenge. But in view that many countries, overweight and obesity are becoming major problems. And we think what causes it; the type of food we will produce will take a very relevant role. 

Therefore, we have to adapt our food production (quantity and type) and natural resources to withstand  the negative effects of climate change. F.A.O. says so.

Back to the title. Actually, we don’t have much of a choice. It is not, and / or, it is: and , that take place in our choice. So being that the alternative; it is up to us to dictate to ourselves: what, and how much of each food (usually processed) should we ingest on a regular base. This, in any language: practice moderation. A cynic would say: “I believe in abstinence, as long it is practice with moderation.” So, “all things in moderation” is the key word here.

If you have an “apple shaped belly”. That can be checked if you go window shopping up and down Beach Boulevard in Apia; you are in trouble- go and see a doctor. Why is that? It is because your waist is bigger than your hips. For a man it should be 40 cm. Continuing.

Let us define what are processed foods.  Straight from my laptop. It says:” Food processing is typically a mechanical process that utilizes extrusion, large mixing, grinding, chopping and emulsifying equipment in the production process.” They are convenient-that is for sure. BUT convenience can mean large amounts of hidden sodium, fats and sugar. And what is worse, it sells, if not check all the stores big and small have junk food lining up all their available shelves. AND not all of them are bad for you. Example chopped vegetables and fruits canned in their own juice.

The local media would predicate  “do not eat processed food –you know from where- eat local foods”. I have written that too. The “palagi” media would predicate: avoid the following processed foods: Bacon, Granola Bars, Instant Ramen, Dried Fruits, Flavored Nuts, Fruit Snacks, Margarine, Microwave Popcorn, Ketchup, Frozen Dinners.

What do we mean by: Eat local foods? Of all the “local foods” that Samoans eat, that I have reviewed, 19 of them -- and you know very well what they are--by our definition above, are processed foods. So, Samoans are eating a lot of local processed foods. Unless you want to eat, the usual suspects: taro, banana, breadfruit, and fish, raw. The only things to eat raw are local fruits. So, let us not demonize “all” the processed foods are bad for your health. 

 Here are some rules for a healthy living. Straight fro the New York Times paper:

• Get as much of your nutrition as possible from a variety of completely unprocessed foods.

These include fruits and vegetables. But they also include meat, fish, poultry and eggs that haven’t been processed. In other words, when buying food at the market, focus on things that have not been cooked, prepared or altered in any way. Brown rice over white rice. Whole grains over refined grains. 

• Eat lightly processed food less often.

You are not going to make everything yourself. Pasta, for instance is going to be bought already prepared. You are not going to grind your own flour or extract your own oil. These are meant to be eaten along with unprocessed food, but try to eat less of them..

• Eat heavily processed food even less often.

There is little high-quality evidence that even the most processed foods are dangerous. But keep your consumption of them to a minimum, because they can make it too easy to stuff in calories. Such foods include bread, chips, cookies, and cereals. 

• Eat as much home-cooked food as possible, which should be prepared according with the first rule above.

You are much less likely to stuff yourself silly if you eat home-cooked food

• Use salt and fats, including butter and oil, as needed in food preparation.

Things like salt and fat aren’t the enemy. They are often necessary in the preparation of tasty, satisfying food. The key here is moderation . Use what you need. Seasoning is often what makes vegetables taste good. Don’t be afraid of them, but don’t go crazy with them either.

• When you do eat out, try to eat try to eat at restaurants that follow the same rules.

Ideally, you should eat at restaurants that are creating all of their items from completely unprocessed foods. Lots and lots of restaurants do. Follow the first rule even while out to dinner. Some processing is going to be fine, but try to keep it to a minimum.

• Drink mostly water, but some alcohol, coffee and other beverages are fine. As I have pointe out before, you can find a study to show that everything either prevent or causes cancer—alcohol and coffee included. But my take is that the preponderance of evidence  supports the inclusion of a moderate consumption of most beverages.

• Treat all beverages with calories in them as you would alcohol.

This includes every drink with calories, including milk. There are fine in moderation., but keep them to a minimum. You can have them because you like the, but you should not consume  them as if you need them.

• Eat with other people, especially people you care about, as often as possible. This has benefits even outside those of nutrition. It will make you more likely to cook. It will mostly likely make you eat slowly. It will also make you happy.

• It is far too easy these days to consume more than you think you are, or more than you really need. Sound familiar?

Am I forgetting the liquid foods? No way José. True. We have a lot of obese people among us, but also a lot who abuse their alcoholic drinks and cause accidents, home violence, and abuse girls and women thru rape.

Our justice system is very soft. Example. Rape by law is punished-in the law books- with 20 years in the shade. Yet, those who commit that horrendous crime, ended up with 2 years and 4 months only. 

Am I exaggerating? not too much. With all the “deductions”” that is. From where? The lawyers: “my client is a saint; let him go.” The pastors: “He not only give me all his pay checks, but also attends church every day” The wife: “Who is going to bring the bacon?” What is more, after the first week in the shade, he will ask the re-elected commissioner if he can take off the next weekend, Asked why, he’ll say: “I have a couple of matai titles waiting for me.” “If at all possible, dear commissioner, can I stays two more months out?” 

Asked why, he’ll say “my wife is  pregnant with my tenth child.” 

As per Anatole France; “Justice is the sanction of established injustice.”

There is not such a thing as a “secure” prison. Not even San Quentin prison. Ask el Chapo. All we need is a “confortable” space, a high wall- a la Trump- and plenty of work for the “innocents” to produce their own food. Ah! And no more sumo wrestlers. 20 million on it is a waste of badly needed money somewhere else.

Should we blame the food processing industry for the obesity people around us? Or the alcoholic manufacturing industry for all the drunkards who do not know how to drink? I doubt it. Let us blame ourselves!

I would say: Eat and drink moderately.

 

*Orlando Huaman is a food technologist and freelance writer. Malololelei.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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