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In defence of 'ultra-processed' foods

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Ultra-processed foods, a label coined in research by a Brazilian pediatrician, have been targeted as a menace to society for quite some time, mostly by environmental advocates and health professionals.

For most consumers, the distinction between processed foods and ultra-processed foods is is a matter of individual perception. Many consumers recognize that ultra-processed foods contain additives and artificial ingredients, yet there’s confusion about processing, since all foods that are processed become associated.

Few have dared to counter the argument that ultra-processed foods are bad for us, and the massive movement against them has clearly influenced public policy around the world. At home, for example, Canada’s Food Guide recommends staying away from ultra-processed foods.

However, the socio-economic implications of discouraging consumers from purchasing and consuming these products have been under-appreciated, for the most part. There’s been scant attention paid to how wages have failed to keep pace with our lifestyles, the gender gap in the division of unpaid labour and the pressure on women to keep up with an unrealistic and idealized version of motherhood in arguments against processed foods.

Nearly a decade ago, the value of processed foods suddenly came under great scrutiny. Consumers not only began to question the value of processed foods, but they also feared these foods contributed to chronic non-communicable diseases, even cancer. It became a common perception that processed........

© The Conversation