Changing composition of food

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 1 June 2004



Blades, M. (2004), "Changing composition of food", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 34 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Changing composition of food

One of the certainties of life is that nothing remains exactly the same over a period of time. Therefore, like anything today diet continues to change. Not just as regards the foods and beverages but also the composition of the foods themselves, different varieties of crops are grown and animal breeding techniques have changed, the way they are processed and preserved as well as presented and advertised. Not to mention the way they are cooked in the home.

Indeed foods may be hardly cooked in the home, but instead simply reheated in a microwave oven. With foods being chosen from a vast international range of dishes.

Although some people may regard basic foods such as fruits, cereals and vegetable remaining exactly the same over time. The reality is that, they vary a great deal with different varieties of crops being grown as well as being grown more intensively. Also imports of fruits and vegetables mean that there is a massive variety available year around. For the general purchaser there is also a choice between organic and non-organically grown foodstuffs. Changing politics and economics mean that foods are derived from differing areas, for example, wheat is obtained from Europe rather than the Canadian wheat-fields with a resultant reduction of selenium levels in wheat.

Sugar is now more likely to be derived from sugar beet, which has been grown in East Anglia than from the previous cane sugar – imported from the West Indies.

Even meat has changed and animals may be selected for leanness now rather than for the well liked fat marbled meat of pre-war days.

There is a massive range of low sugar products the like of which would hardly have been seen 20 years back.

Low fat products are another vast range that is now seen on supermarket shelves – currently, the most popular milk is semi-skimmed rather than the full fat milk of the past. Also as milk is now sold in cartons instead of clear glass bottles the concept of seeing the cream on top of the milk is unknown to many. The ever-popular “potato chip” is now just as likely to be oven baked as deep fat fried, as was the tradition.

No doubt the popularity of the “Atkins” diet will see a plethora of low carbohydrate foods becoming available in supermarkets.

At present there is concern about the sodium levels in the diet and food manufacturers are being asked to examine their products to see if they can reduce levels. It is hardly surprising that this has happened, as manufacturers often require adding sodium for numerous purposes such as preservation and flavor.

Mabel Blades

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