February 3, 2024

"We are eating predigested food...."

"To manufacture cheap, delicious food that is packaged for convenience, basic food crops such as corn, wheat and potatoes are dissembled into their molecular parts — starchy flours, protein isolates, fats and oils — or what manufacturers call 'slurries.' 'The bulk of what is extracted is starch slurry, a milky mixture of starch and water, but we also have extracted proteins and fibers,' according to a video explanation of the process from Starch Europe, part of the European Starch Industry Association. 'Roughly half of the starch slurry goes to produce starch-based sugars and other derivatives,' the video says. 'Those are created by hydrolysis, a process similar to human digestion.' Next, with the help of artificial colorings, flavorings and glue-like emulsifiers, those slurries are then heated, pounded, shaped or extruded into any food a manufacturer can dream up. Add in just the right ratio of sugar, salt and fat designed to tickle our taste buds, and an ultraprocessed food that’s nearly irresistible is born...."


rehajm said...

All those views of the future in the past imagined humans evolving to eating little cubes and capsules instead of a traditional dinner. Most of those past predictions of the future were wrong. Most of them…

n.n said...


Jim Howard said...

Soylent Green is PEOPLE!

Wince said...

Did Althouse just walk-in on the food industry masticating?

gilbar said...

Joseph Henrich wrote in "The Secret of Our Success, How Culture is Driving Human Evolution"
That THIS has been going on, for the last few hundred thousand years.

Our Jaws aren't strong enough to eat without cutting up (and/or) cooking food..
Our TEETH are LONG enough..
Our Stomachs aren't BIG enough to digest raw food..
Our Colons are Long enough to take car of raw food..
(this is compared to other apes)
Humans COULD NOT Exist without processed food.. Don't Believe him?
Try eating a delicious steak.. RAW.. That you have to BITE out of a cow.

i Love quoting Rockpile saying "you let the knife and fork dig your grave"...
BUT; without a knife and fork (and a fire, and pots and pans) you will STARVE TO DEATH

Think being a vegan solves this? Hell NO! vegetables need MORE processing than meats.
You HAVE to grind grain.. and then PROCESS it into bread or pasta
Fruits and Veggies?
Vegan influencer Zhanna Samsonova 'dies of starvation' after decade of only eating raw fruit and vegetables
Yep, it took 10 years for her to die.. But she DID, and that it took that long shows she "cheated"

Rabel said...

Food additives, not preservatives according to an expert in the field.

Kate said...

If our Star Trek future must be vegan, I want no part.

Joe Smith said...

"We are eating predigested food...."

Well, I'm a starling, so duh!

ga6 said...

CNN=false QED

Howard said...

Fermented foods are predigested.

gilbar said...

Teeth AREN'T long enough
Colons AREN'T Long enough

Temujin said...

As I'm sure Homer must have said in one of their episodes, "Ummm....predigested food....aaarrghh."

loudogblog said...

Total click bait.

It's obvious that many of our foods rely on other organisms to transform them into a more desirable form. For example: Bread and alcohol require yeast to be made.

Oligonicella said...

Our Jaws aren't strong enough to eat without cutting up (and/or) cooking food..
Our Stomachs aren't BIG enough to digest raw food..

Simply not true. I've eaten a raw steak by ripping chunks out by my teeth. Many, many vegetables are eaten raw. We have no problem digesting them or raw meat.

Try eating a delicious steak.. RAW.. That you have to BITE out of a cow.

Bad example. None of the other apes eat bovines that way either. In fact, they don't eat bovines at all, just smaller than themselves animals like birds and monkeys.

I like steak tartar.

ColoComment said...

...this was an interesting book, pertinent to me after a g'daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I eat a mostly grass diet that has been pre-digested by a cow and reconstituted into a steak

Howard said...

A strong jaw also makes you handsome


How Have Soft Foods Affected our Jaw Development?
graphic for How Have Soft Foods Affected our Jaw Development?As a society, we have changed our culture to be big consumers of soft foods. This trend appears to have led in turned to progressively more alteration of jaw development and in some cases too little room for the last molars (wisdom teeth) to erupt (emerge from gums), a phenomenon known as “impacting” of wisdom teeth-Daniel Lieberman summarized the results: “The mechanical forces generated by chewing food not only help your jaws grow to the right size and shape, they also help your teeth fit properly within the jaw.” Changes in chewing changed human jaws and faces.-soft foods such as fruit, yogurt, applesauce, and peanut butter do not provide the chewing opportunity that children need. The same lack of opportunity is suffered by children of parents who cut meat and other chewable food into tiny pieces because they are afraid their kids might choke. Therefore, children miss out in the learning experience of how the tongue and muscles coordinate to maximize extraction of nutrients from a meal and so not get the muscle exercise that is needed for the healthy development of the jaws

As you chew less hard foods, your jaw muscles get slack, and thus you hang out mouth open due to an under exercises and weakened jaw muscle.

R C Belaire said...

Now I'm hungry.

Mary Beth said...

Breaking news, processed food is processed.

mikee said...

I did a Master's thesis on carbohydrate hydrolysis, many long years ago, and while every word of the post is correct, the impression left is as dumb wrong as possible. "Predigested" is biased misdirection at best, and pure yellow journalism at least. Processed foods are no more predigested food than a rare broiled steak is synthetic fuel for your body.

I personally think turning perfectly good corn into ethanol and crude oil into gasoline distillate fractions for internal combustion engines is amazing technology, and would never say that vehicles run on preburned fuel. Nor will I agree that processed food is predigested.

typingtalker said...

I may be eating predigested food?

If I am then it's my choice. I/we have choices. Every summer we buy fresh-picked corn from a local "farm" store. My local Costco is happy to sell me five pound bags of frozen corn year around. My local grocery is happy to sell me smaller bags of frozen corn, canned corn, corn flour, corn meal and any number of frozen and "prepared" meals containing whole corn.

On the other hand, we bought a dozen donuts this morning and who knows what's in them. Or cares?

We have choices including to watch or not watch CNN.

Lem the artificially intelligent said...

Funny, I just got that message I usually get when I’m on the road and I want to comment on something. “Safari can’t open the page because the network connection was lost”. The funny thing is I’m home with a wifi connection.

Let me move to the computer and make the crackpot comment again and see what happens.

Lem the artificially intelligent said...

My crackpot question is, does slurry production need farmers to grow food?

I'm asking because I haven't read the story and what Althouse lifted doesn't say anything about current methods of agriculture, which have increasingly been targeted by the "great resent" people. In other words, is this slurry production story in anyway connected to the massive agriculture protests in France?

Rafe said...

COOKED foods are “predigested.” That’s literally what we do it for.

Look, I’m not a fan of highly processed foods, but this is quite possibly the dumbest reason to oppose it.

- Rafe

gilbar said...

Oligonicella shows they just Don't under stand, when they said...
I've eaten a raw steak by ripping chunks out by my teeth.
You ripped it OUT of the animal? why is it, that i think you are full of it

Many, many vegetables are eaten raw. We have no problem digesting them or raw meat.
please pay attention.. You can eat SOME, but NOT your entire diet

I like steak tartar.
which is the DEFINITION of processed food.. PLEASE pay attention

Freeman Hunt said...

We grind foods. We heat foods. We ferment foods. Is this all "predigestion?"

Iman said...

Eat shit, CNN!

Sorry… I don’t know what came over me.

effinayright said...

I am reminded of commercials announcing that most dog food is "dead food"---excepting, of course, the dog food the sponsor is trying to sell.

Isn't dog food just as processed as what humans eat?

For example, isn't breakfast cereal "dead"?

Or my can of corned beef hash: looks a lot like dog food to me!

and a question for gilbar: before our ancestors learned to control and use fire, wasn't everything they ate "raw". And the things they found they couldn't digest, they didn't eat?

(Carl Sagan once praised the brave souls who long ago learned the hard way which mushrooms were poisonous, and which were not.)

John henry said...

On the other hand both my granddaughter (20)and grandson (15) are both strict vegetarian, possibly vegan.

She is working her way through engineering school (4.0 average) on a volleyball scholarship. Plays in 2 other high level club teams, one the feeder for pr Olympic team to keep in shape in the off season.

Grandson plays high level club volleyball. On his way to a national tournament in st Louis this week. National AAU champions in 22, 3rd place national AAU championship in 23.

Also on school basketball and other teams.

Also straight As. Healthy bodies and healthy minds.

Daughter in law, physical/occupation therapy specialist is strict vegetarian. My son, semi-strict. Both healthy an above average physically active.

I am convinced that vegetarian CAN be a healthy lifestyle based on my own evidence. I also know it can be an unhealthy lifestyle if not practiced properly.

John Henry

Oligonicella said...


Keep your goalposts in place. In neither the article nor your post is "ripping it OUT of the animal" part of the process. What you said was "Our Jaws aren't strong enough to eat without cutting up (and/or) cooking food.." which is simply untrue without adding qualifiers.

Our TEETH are[n't] LONG enough..

Are you referring to long canines? If so, those are more for combat and display than eating. If you're referring to all the teeth then a few pics of our relatives should dissuade that.

Humans are entirely capable of excising meat off animals with their teeth, that's the function of incisors. As with other mammalians, getting through the skin is the hard part. Which is why our percentage of meat diet is thought to be connected to scavenging kills at first. It's also why many predators start with the anus as it's the softest skin tissue.

If tatare is the DEFINITION of processing (put stuff in bowl, mash and eat), you have to include meat excising by the incisors and premolars (blades) and chewing (mashing) with the molars (contoured anvils) as processing. That's too low a bar for consideration.

As for the gut evolution, from The Center for Academic Research & Training in Anthropology:

"... an evolutionary trend for gut reduction began when early members of the genus Homo began to incorporate a greater amount of animal tissues (marrow fat, brain matter, and muscle) about 2.5 million years ago."

At 2.5 million, we weren't making fire yet so the "processing" was smashing, ripping and chewing - eating everything raw. That's the scavenging stage, fire came a million years later at best.

I believe you're conflating processing and ultra-processing.

Oligonicella shows they just Don't under stand, when they said...

Yes I do understand, my degree is in biology. Anthropologists tend to make lousy biologists.

And don't mis-pronoun me.

Oligonicella said...

Vegan influencer Zhanna Samsonova 'dies of starvation' after decade of only eating raw fruit and vegetables

You omitted "Friends tell Russian media Samsonova had not consumed any water for six years before her death, and was refusing to get medical help after she was bedbound."


"Speaking to a Russian newspaper following the 39-year-old's death in Malaysia on 21 July, her mother said Samsonova died from a "cholera-like infection" that was made worse by her restrictive diet."

Perhaps the lack of nutrients supplied by meat and living in denial of the infection rather than a raw diet had something to do with it.

Oligonicella said...

@gilbar - By the way, my admiration for your weight loss journey is still in place.

Bunkypotatohead said...

You were just gonna digest it anyways.

effinayright said...

Wait a sec...isn't rennet, a comppund essential to cheese-making, a pre-digested substance?

"Rennet (/ˈrɛnɪt/) is a complex set of enzymes produced in the stomachs of ruminant mammals. Chymosin, its key component, is a protease enzyme that curdles the casein in milk. In addition to chymosin, rennet contains other enzymes, such as pepsin and a lipase.

Rennet has traditionally been used to separate milk into solid curds and liquid whey, used in the production of cheeses. Rennet from calves has become less common for this use, to the point that less than 5% of cheese in the United States is made using animal rennet today.[1] Most cheese is now made using chymosin derived from bacterial sources."

What difference does it make, whether bateria proudce it and not cows?

I'ts a byproduct of digestion!!!

Anthony said...

Why do many people overeat chips, cereals, cakes, puddings and other ultraprocessed foods despite knowing those foods may not be healthy?

There are no healthy or unhealthy foods. You can either digest it or not, it's either toxic or not.

There are healthy and unhealthy diets. Eating only Oreos and Coke is unhealthy. Eating only carrots and water is unhealthy.

Ron Winkleheimer said...


Steve said...

CNN misspelled cooking.

Kombucha is predigested. Yuck.
Bourbon is predigested. Yum!

Tina848 said...

Starch slurries are used because in a food plant you need to pipe into the cooking vessels. Powders don't transit well. Pure starch is an explosive and must be kept separate in the plant. We had special starch towers with explosion windows. Grain elevators have similar issues.

Also, starches require cooking to kill the bacteria. E.Coli and lysteria are common in grain based powders.

We never converted starch slurry to sugar. No need, we had corn syrup and real sugar.

I was a chemist at a food plant.