My own definition of 'processing'
Processing is a step. Irregardless of you pick a plant from the farm or a tree or does a complex processing, it is still a step - A step that gets the food product into our meal plate.
I believe in processing because it changes and transform food into what we have. It preserved and maintained our food. It gives us what we want. We don't want a food that doesn't look and taste the same that we tasted it before. That is weird and will question if the food products is safe for consumption or to a certain extend, what's gone wrong with the product. We want consistent food products. And this consistency that we seek for from food product come with a price to pay.
It needs to be processed to make the food product quality to be consistent. Processing aids such as coloring and flavoring often are used to fulfill our needs. Is this our fault as a food consumer or is it a manufacturer's fault for giving us such a consistent products.
Food additives are often used in processing. Why? To preserve our food, preventing it from biological, chemical and enzymatic damage. Is it a favorite thing a manufacturer would like to add? No, it wouldn't even be there if we don't need it in the preservation of foods, to enhance taste and texture or as per food law and regulations. Getting the right food additives wouldn't be an easy task either, PLUS it cost money. The least thing a food manufacturer wants is the consumer attention on the long list of ingredients. We want a clean label.
Consumers are beginning to move towards a clean label, or food products that are minimally processed such as dried nuts with some salting, pasteurization, wash and cut and so on. This link shows how food processes are being categorized. The truth is no matter what you have chosen to consume, it is going to be processed. I am not siding with the food industry at all. As a consumer, we know that all our foods needs to be process in a way. A good example is cooking and the presence of chefs. Is it not that the chefs processed the food, cooked it and served as a meal that we enjoy?
The key message that we need to pass across is every food products are manufactured in a sense but it is important that we know what we consume. You have choice over what you take. Starting taking up the responsibility for not a single person other than yourself is responsible for your own health.
About food technology
I like to start off by making sure that we are on the same pace when I write about food technology. Now, what is food technology? I see it as a method to improve and preserve our food ingredients and its product from being damaged from the chemical, enzymatic and microbial activity. In other words, making sure that the foods are safe to be consumed.
It might look very simple. However, I do want to point out that a lot of work has been put into place that we do not completely realize what food technology have done for us.