A food processing pyramid designed by Udo Erasmus perfectly illustrates how processed foods rise in toxicity and potential health dangers as we move from the bottom, based on raw foods, to the top of the pyramid based on hydrogenated, superheated toxic foods which promote disease.
Generally speaking, the faster a food spoils, the higher the nutrient density it contains. Living foods will perish within days to weeks while processed foods can last months or even years due to the removal of all microorganisms, enzymes, oxygen, and moisture in food. As we move away from raw foods and progress to ultra processed foods, shelf life increases and so does disease.
1st Level – RAW FOODS
The base of the FOOD PROCESSING PYRAMID consists of raw foods.
Ideally, these should be fresh, whole foods, locally grown in your own geographical area. Foods should be grown organically without herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers; they should be sun-ripened and in-season.
Human beings are the end-result of millions of years of successful evolution in Nature. Since time immemorial, raw, vital foods have formed the basis of diets for all living organisms.
2nd Level – FROZEN FOODS
FREEZING FOOD is the next-best solution for retaining vitamins, enzymes, minerals and protein necessary for building health. Freezing foods that contain essential fats and other nutrients will slow down oxidation and delay for long periods the onset of rancidity.
Freezing is not a long-term solution. Frozen foods must be stored at consistently low temperatures and must be used up in a reasonable period of time.
3rd Level – DRIED FOODS
DRYING PROCESSES are commonly applied to foods such as grain, beans, fruit and vegetables.Â In this case, minerals and protein are often left intact, as well as some enzymes.
Advantages of drying foods includes longer shelf life and easier storage, but some nutrient loss will occur. This can be offset by proper supplementation.
4th Level – COOKED FOODS
PROCESSING METHODS least harmful for foods are BLANCHING, BOILING and STEAMING. Nutrient loss – enzymes, probiotics and some amino acids – takes place in all these processes.
All four BASE LEVELS of this pyramid (RAW, FROZEN, DRIED, COOKED foods…) help to support and promote health!