Tuesday 21 May 2024

Ultra-Processed People revisited

I picked up a copy of Ultra-Processed People in paperback to see what Chris van Tulleken has been up to and he seems to be gettng worse.
Van Tulleken does not only judge people by the motivations they are presumed to have. He also judges food by the supposed motives of the people who make it. In the Frequently Asked Questions section of the new chapter we find the following enquiry:

If you cook at home with xanthan gum, are you making UPF?

I am surprised that this question is frequently asked but I suppose Chris and I move in different circles. I am even more surprised by the answer:

No. UPF is industrially produced for profit. This is part of the definition. If you make food because you love someone and you want to nourish them, then you’re not ultra-processing.

Earlier in the book, van Tulleken describes xanthan gum as “revoltingly, a bacterial exudate: slime that bacteria produce to allow them to cling to surfaces” and suggests that consuming it may have “profound effects on immune system development”. How fortunate, then, that there is an ingredient that acts as an antidote to this “disgusting” emulsifier. The name of that ingredient? Love. 

This raises more questions than it answers. What if you ultra-process food for someone you love but make a profit? What if you ultra-process food for someone you hate but give it to them for free?

Read the rest at The Critic.

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