What’s so bad about ‘processed food’?

Some food campaigners should mind their language just as much as they mind what they eat

I bloody love processed food. Here’s my favourite summer processed pork belly dish. In an oven pan I sauté chorizo, onions and carrots, then deglaze with red wine. I reduce by half, top up with chicken stock and chuck in some brown sugar. I bring it to a simmer and then put in a big square of pork belly. I cover it with foil and put it into a low oven for four hours. Once cooked I let it cool a little, wrap it in cling film, and put it in the fridge overnight, under a weighted baking tray so it presses. The next day I slice it up into inch-thick pieces, and put those on to a smoking barbecue for a couple of minutes each side, until the meat is bronzed and the fat is crisped, and the air smells of good piggy things.

I know what you’re thinking (apart from: I wants me some of that pork belly). You’re thinking: that’s not processing. That’s home cooking. But what’s the difference? Count the stages: the sautéing, the deglazing, the braising, the cooling, the wrapping, the pressing, the cutting, the grilling. If that’s not a process I don’t know what is.

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