In her thought-provoking book, In Defense of Processed Food, Anastacia Marx de Salcedo takes a multifaceted approach, offering a scientific, feminist, and economic analysis to fervently challenge prevailing beliefs regarding the perils of processed food. Contrary to popular opinion, de Salcedo contends that most processed foods can actually be considered reasonably healthy, and she underscores how their consumption represents an unequivocal advantage for advancing women’s equality. She posits that conventional wisdom unfairly assigns excessive blame to processed foods for the adverse consequences of our modern, sedentary lifestyles while suggesting that alternative food systems are fraught with inevitable economic pitfalls.
De Salcedo’s argument transcends the surface-level assumptions surrounding processed foods. She reveals that many of these products are not as detrimental to our health as they are often made out to be. Moreover, her feminist perspective highlights the role of processed foods in alleviating the unequal burden placed on women when it comes to cooking duties. She underscores how the availability and convenience of these foods contribute to a more equitable distribution of responsibilities within households.
An iconoclastic celebration of canned, packaged, and preserved foods.
In her comprehensive analysis, de Salcedo also takes aim at the scapegoating of processed foods for the negative consequences of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. She contends that the real culprits in this equation are a lack of physical activity and poor dietary choices rather than solely processed foods themselves. By addressing this misconception, she aims to refocus the conversation on holistic lifestyle changes.
Furthermore, de Salcedo points out the economic viability of processed foods, contrasting them with alternative food systems. She argues that attempting to replace these foods with alternative, more time-consuming, and costly options would lead to economic inefficiency and hardship for many individuals. Her perspective underscores the practicality and accessibility of processed foods for a broad range of consumers.
Anastacia Marx de Salcedo invites readers to reevaluate their attitudes toward preserved foods and processed items. She not only defends their place in our diets but also encourages us to embrace them as valuable components of our pantry. In doing so, she offers a nuanced and well-researched perspective that challenges preconceived notions about processed food while highlighting the broader social and economic implications of our choices.
Anastacia Marx de Salcedo is a public health consultant and writer, whose features and essays have appeared in the Atlantic, Salon, Slate, and Vice, and on PBS and NPR blogs. Her books include Eat Like a Pig, Run Like a Horse. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.