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The Continuum of Food Products & the Journey to Wholefood Cuisine

Debra Redalia


I’ve written a whole post on this subject at LIFELY: The Continuum of Products & The Journey to Lifely Products.

In this post, I am applying the basic principles from that post to food.

I have observed a steady progression of products that have more and more lifely characteristics. Market sectors have emerged with names that identify certain beneficial characteristics: nontoxic, natural, organic, and green.

What’s new here is recognizing that this is the path out of industrial food and into wholefood cuisine. I went through this path myself and so have many others as the marketplace opened up with better and better products.

Below I will explain each. You can see where you are and what the next step is to move up in the quality of food you eat.

Industrial Food Products

Industrial products of all kinds are the result of a system with an underlying intent to produce products for profit. As a result, their aim is to get the greatest volume of goods to the largest number of people. Nature is viewed as a storehouse of resources valued only for human use, so forests are clearcut, mountains are mined, and soils are depleted to perpetuate profits, wastes pollute air and land and water, and advertising expertly convinces consumers to buy products they neither want nor need.

Industrialization is
  • a set of basic principles based on the philosophy of materialism 
  • a method of manufacturing a large number of identical products for a mass market>
  • a way of selling products via advertising.
Indeed industrialization is the very basis of our modern economy. For our economy to grow, more and more products need to be made and sold. Eventually, there will be no more resources left to support industrialism.
An industrial food product:
  • is heavily processed
  • contains food additives such as artificial colors and flavors and preservatives
  • is sold in a box, jar, bottle, carton, can, or other packaging
  • is heavily advertised in mass-market media
  • is sold in supermarkets, where manufacturers pay for shelf space
  • is prepared in ways that eliminate nutrients
  • contains a lot of salt, sugar, and fat, and may have added synthetic vitamins to boost nutrition lost in processing
  • may have residnues of toxic chemicals that have entered into the product during industrial processing in the factory
  • can lead to many illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease. high cholesterol, and cancer.

Many people have improved their health simply by not eating industrial food products.

Nontoxic Food Products

There are no food products in this step of the continuum. The first step out of industrial food products are natural food products.





Natural Food Products

So-called “natural food” products are industrial food products that do not contain artificial additives, such as artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives that are made from petroleum. Instead, these food additives are replaced by natural colors and flavors and preservatives made from plants and animals.

They are still industrial products in every way, they even are made from the same agribusiness foods that are grown with pesticides and industrial fertilizers. They are packed in the same cans and boxes and wrapped with the same plastic.

Still, choosing packaged industrial food products without artificial additives is often the first step people take away from industrial food products.


Organic Food Products

Organic food products are industrial food products made with organically grown foods.

They are grown without toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Instead, the soil is regenratated with materials from Nature.

 Some organic packaged foods are close to 100% organic, others may have some percentage of natural ingredients.

 view a larger version at https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/OrganicLabelsExplained.png

But still, while organic products don’t contain pesticides or additives, any packaged industrial food product—organic or not—is still an industrial. product.

Green Food Products

The term green is not generally used in the food industry to refer to a set of characteristics of food products.

“Green food” generally refers to food products made from leafy greens.



Lifely Food Products

Natural and organic are both improvements in consumer food products, but they are still consumer products, made to appeal to consumers and to be sold through the industrial system.

Lifely products are made and sold outside of the industrial consumer system. They are products like

  • organic foods grown by local farmers and sold through farmer’s markets
  • prepared food products made with local produce and sold through farmer’s markets and local independent stores. Here we have, for example, hard cider made from a number of different varieties of apples grown here locally.
  • local organic foods prepared in local resturants by local chefs

In particular, lifely foods would be seasonal, local, native to place, and prepared by traditional methods, celebrating the cuisine of the place, made with your own loving hands.

The Journey to Lifely Food Products and Wholefood Cuisine


The whole concept of a wholefood cuisine made up of lifely food products is so different from the industrial consumer marketplace that it’s not something I can catalog, it’s something you need to discover, for it is unique to each person and place. It’s about you eating your place through the seasons of the year.

But it’s a process to get from wherever you are to here. Now that I know what the steps on The Journey to Wholefood Cuisine are, I use this continuum to evaluate products I might purchase or make and to see where I am right now on the journey and where I could be.

Remember that a product is a lifecycle with more than one aspect and each aspect might be at a different point on the journey.

My personal guideline is:

  • do my best
  • choose the most lifely product available that I can afford and otherwise meets my needs
  • start with lifely and move back down the journey as needed until I find the most lifely product available.

If there is no lifely food available to meet your needs, look for an organic product.

If there is no organic product available to meet your needs, look for a natural product.

The main thing is to move away from industrial products, whenever and however you can.

I know it’s possible to make this change. I’m already on this journey in my own life and I know you can do it too.

Just make lifely decisions step-by-step, one-by-one. Learn as much as you can. Support those makers who are offering lifely products at any step of the journey.

Together we can do this.