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Food processing

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Food processing refers to any alturations other than simply applying food preservation techniques. By alturations, we mean e.g. cutting, peeling, heating/roasting of animal- and plant-based products. We also mean making different products out of a base product. An example is e.g. making bread, cake or beer out of grains, cut (& bagged) vegetables out of vegetables, ...

Agro processing and food processing are very closely related topics which here are looked at as a whole. Generally, the primary processing of a crop once it has been harvested is termed agro processing while subsequent processing and be regarded as food processing. These areas often flow from one to the other.

Advantages and disadvantages

Increase in financial value

Turning agricultural products into other commodities has the potential to provide income generating opportunities that are needed to support the millions of poor families who can no longer support their livelihoods from the land alone and people who have no land to farm.

Effect on nutritional content

Food processing has an effect on the nutritional value of the base product that is actually being consumed. For example; beer and soy sauce have some contents removed which is then used as fodder (ie for cattle, ...)

Effect on shelf life

Food processing also has an effect on the shelf life (shelf life of product compared to the base material). Similar to upcycling and downcycling, we can talk about IShL'ing and DShL'ing (Increasing Shelf Life and Decreasing Shelf Life). Products that have an increased shelf life (in comparison to the base material) have a greater chance of actually being eaten/drunk by people/animals (as the time before it spoils is greater).A economy that only/mostly produces these products will thus be more efficient than a economy that produces only/mostly products that have a decreased shelf life (in comparison to the base material).

Examples

Base material IShL DShL
Whole cabbage Sauerkraut cut cabbage
root vegetables removing leaves of root vegetables peeling the roots
grain hulled (unbroken) grain broken grain, beer, cake, bread[1]

Footnotes and references

  1. toasting the bread (selling as toasted bread) increases the shelf life again