What's the Definition of Junk Food? | Junk Food Blog

28 June, 2006

What's the Definition of Junk Food?

After running across the Junk Food definition in Wikipedia, I felt compelled to write up my own thoughts of what constitutes "junk food".

In short, junk food is any kind of food not intended to be part of a balanced nutrition. It doesn't have to be "bad" for you, it just has to be something created mostly for satisfaction than nutrition.

Wikipedia says the following...

Junk food is a common term used for any food item that is perceived to be unhealthy and has low or poor nutritional value.

I could accept the notion that most food perceived to be unhealthy or of low nutritional value to be junk food. However, consider celery. It's mostly water, and is actually low in nutritional value. But we wouldn't consider celery to be junk food.

On the opposite end, consider unseasoned, unsalted, rice cakes. There's nothing unhealthy about these things, in fact, they're pretty good eating as far as diet and health are concerned. But I feel they straddle the line on junk food. Rice cakes were made for snacking, or at best, a platform to smear jelly or cream cheese. They're more about satisfaction than nutrition.

You could also say the same thing about potatoes. By themselves, they don't offer much in terms of essential vitamins and minerals. And, no one eats potatoes plain, with nothing on them. We always pile on butter and sour cream. Other people sprinkle salt and pepper. We dab french fries into ketchup, and mix cheesy sauce with Au Gratin style. In that sense, they're not much different than rice cakes.

So, would we consider potatoes to be junk food? No. Potatoes by themselves were not created purely for satisfaction. On the other hand, processed potatoes, like french fries, hash browns, potato chips, are junk food. I'd have to exclude baked potatoes from junk food, because you gotta cook a potato somehow.

Pizzas are generally considered to be junk food. But what part of a pizza makes it junky? The bread? The cheese? The tomato sauce? The pepperoni? If you answer "The pepperoni", then what if we exchange it for mushrooms? Would that make it healthy? I'm not sure why pizza is more junkier than a plate of Chicken Parmesan over Linguini.

As for Junk Food Blog, what's the criteria for getting a product blogged here?

It's really up to me to decide, mostly based on what I feel is good. But here's a general set of criteria I look for...

1. It is "ready to eat" (straight out of the package).

2. It is not marketed as a health food.

3. It is consumed as a snack, not part of a meal.

4. It is manufactured.

I may stray off of these rules, if it's something I can't resist telling you about.


Ruffy said...

Well, celery may not be high in nutrients but it (can be) filling without adding a gut-load of calories to your diet. Once upon a time when I had cause to see a nutritionist, she told me that pizza was actually one of the "better" junk foods-- as long as you stay away from the greasy meat toppings. And of course as a general rule of thumb, everything is ok in moderation!

sarahzln on 7/07/2006 08:55:00 PM said...

have something to say about celery, too. it's actually very nutritious if you consider the fiber content, minerals (potassium, calcium, etc), vitamins (e.g. vitamin A), and all the yet to be defined phytochemicals.

Lily said...

well, in terms of the pizza - it is generally percieved as unhealthy because most people order pizzas from fast food joints such as round table where they make it dripping with greasy and oily cheese and toppings. If you were to make it at home or ordered it from a healthy good restaurant, it wouldn't be so bad for you. It's probably just the high fat content of the cheese and the meats that can go on top of it, as well as the crust usually isn't very nutritious - especially if it's stuffed with high fat processed cheese. I guess the tomato sauce is usually the best thing on there for you.

On potatoes and celery, sarahzln is right in the fact that there is a high fiber and mineral content in both of these foods - not to mention good carbohydrates, as well as being natural foods as opposed to processed white flours and sugars.

sachi on 3/14/2009 10:45:00 PM said...

Thanks dude the deinition u ve put is really an eyeopener.The criteria u ve specified is really to the point.

Anonymous said...

it is very bad to health it not to good to health it is very dangerous to maintain life being inthe short term period

Anonymous said...

Potatoes "don't offer much in terms of essential vitamins and minerals?!" Hey, do your research! Potatoes are VERY nutritious. As for pizza, it qualifies as junk food because, as the post said, of the pepperoni (full of chemicals/dyes), but also because of the white bread which is completely processed: The bran and germ are removed from the grain AND it's then bleached! As for the cheese, though not many people seem to be aware of this, the milk it's made from has been overly processed and had huge amounts of antibiotics added to it. And those drugs end up in our digestive systems. Because of this, pizza qualifies as being a total junk food. Yes, there are some nutrients in it, but all the processing of the various ingredients and all the chemical additives mean that it isn't a natural food for humans. Of course, adults eat it of their own free will. What bothers me is when they give it to tiny kids. Why give junk food to kids? There's so much ignorance about nutrition and the many chems in the food nowadays; people should educate themselves about those things and then they'd think twice about giving junk food to toddlers. That's child-abuse, but it'll never make it into a courtroom ....

Anonymous said...

I like your criteria, but what about homemade goodies, like cakes and cookies? Are they still junk food?

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