The food processing industry has seen an exponential growth in the past couple of decades, primarily because of the convenience it offers consumers. Packed and preserved food items bought off super market shelves is simply a “heat and eat” activity. However, being fully dependent on such stuff is definitely not advisable as food has to be preserved with chemicals. There is after all no substitute for fresh food.
The act of transforming raw materials by external means into edible matter is called food processing. It can be either through physical or chemical processes by which food products are made into a marketable form. The activity may be mincing and macerating, emulsification and liquefaction or even the various stages of cooking such as frying, grilling and broiling. Food products also have to go through a preservation process which includes pasteurization and pickling after which in the final stage, the finished product is canned and packed. Dicing, slicing, drying and freezing of the basic materials is a part of the preliminary stages of food processing.
There are many benefits of processing food. It makes the food safe for consumption by removing toxins and preserving it in very hygienic processes. Hence, delicate perishable items can be processed and dispatched over long distances without the possibility of it becoming stale or spoiled. Without a robust food processing industry, super markets would not exist and neither would carrying food across the globe be possible. Processed foods also help in equitable distribution of edible articles. Nutrition needs of population in famine hit or food deficient countries can be quickly met with processed foods sent from another corner of the globe.
Finally, a very important takeaway of processed food is that people from one part of the globe get to taste novel and exotic food from another. Hence, the modern consumer has a wider choice of what to eat than past generations.