Whether you’re looking for a quick bite of information or want to drop some knowledge on your dinnertime companions, here’s our Featured 5 of the Week!
Many consumers are now following a ‘clean eating’ lifestyle. But what is clean eating, and is it really the best way to stay healthy? We checked out the science to determine if clean eating is for real or just another marketing gimmick.
1. What Is Clean Eating?
The most basic definition is eating a diet of fresh, often organic, whole foods and nothing processed. This trend started as a way to eliminate heavily processed foods, like white bread, cereal, and junk food from diets.
2. Processed Gets A Whole New Meaning
As we said above, the clean-eating trend was meant to get rid of heavily processed foods. However, the program now labels all foods that have been altered from their most natural form as processed.
With this definition, processing can include steaming your vegetables or putting fresh ingredients into the blender for a smoothie. Frozen veggies are also considered processed, which can mean less nutritional value for the consumer since some veggies, like peas, are flash-frozen when harvested to protect the nutritional content. By keeping “clean”, you may be lacking nutrients.
3. Only Organic
Most of the time, clean eating means you can only eat organically-grown foods. But that doesn’t mean it’s healthier than conventional produce. Also, organic foods aren’t consistently grown with fewer pesticides or no pesticides. Sometimes, they’re grown with more pesticides than conventional crops.
Just like the “natural” label, there are no regulations surrounding what it means to be “clean.” Eating your fruits and vegetables is essential, organic or not.
4. What Is Clean Meat?
Clean meat is produced using safe and regulated practices. Animals were harvested following the standards set by the USDA, and the meat was inspected before going to the grocery store. But isn’t this the case for all meat? You got it!
If “clean meat” were held to a different standard than our current global regulations, it could lead to increased foodborne illnesses and a less safe food system. Also, just because meat is organic or grass-fed doesn’t make it any more “clean.”
5. Labor Regulations
We have to ask: if the “clean” grass-fed, organic beef you’re eating was farmed under harsh or unsafe labor conditions, is it still considered clean? The majority of consumers following a “clean-eating” diet focus solely on the processing of food, rather than if the food was created using safe and regulated labor practices. And, since good labor practices are a huge part of sustainability, this is important.
Shouldn’t we reward the companies employing safe labor practices with our business, even if the food is slightly processed? Because, in reality, even chocolate is made from processing cacao beans.
The Bottom Line
Clean eating can be very confusing, and many raw ingredients have to be somewhat processed to create a viable and safe product. A “clean” diet can be misleading and deter us from eating the foods we need, which is why it’s always important to eat a well-balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables.