In October of 2009, I was struck by a simple idea:
What would happen if I went for an entire month without eating any processed foods?
This question would have been laughable (or even nonsensical) just a few decades ago. Nowadays, it seems that almost every food that comes with an ingredients list on it is likely to be laden with extra sugar, fat, and salt. And preservatives. And flavorings. And artificial colors.
I’m not okay with this.
So I tried it, along with a few good friends: A month of no processed foods.
It was revelatory. My expectations and sense of taste were re-calibrated. I started to identify individual ingredients in the foods I ate. I didn’t crave those salty snacks. I found myself often in the kitchen, excited to see what I could cook next. Above all, I simply felt better.
We took turns hosting small dinner parties, and shared our stories and experiences. It brought us closer together. Funny how real food does that.
In 2010, I decided to try it again, in a bigger way. I had started Eating Rules just a few months before, and I reached out to my fellow foodies, bloggers, and friends, and issued the challenge again. In October 2010, 415 people took the pledge and we shared over 40 guest posts! (We also made the news a few times!)
Last year, over 3,000 people took the pledge, and we shared over 55 guest posts!
Although it’s a ridiculous amount of work to make this project happen, I want to do it again. It’s just too important not to. And I want to share this experience with as many people as possible. Not just my experience, but our experience.
Together, let’s see how many people we can get to eat no processed foods whatsoever during the month of October.
And then let’s see what happens.
The “Kitchen Test” Definition
Of course, this begs the question: How do we define “Processed?”
Obviously there’s a wide range of implications in that word, and we will probably each define it slightly differently for ourselves. My definition is this:
Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.
I call it “The Kitchen Test.” If you pick up something with a label (if it doesn’t have a label, it’s probably unprocessed), and find an ingredient you’d never use in your kitchen and couldn’t possibly make yourself from the whole form, it’s processed.
It doesn’t mean you actually have to make it yourself, it just means that for it to be considered “unprocessed” that you could, in theory, do so.
Here’s the discussion from 2010 on the definition, and we’ll continue exploring it as October approaches.
Thanks for participating!
October Unprocessed 2012 has come and gone, but if you just discovered it, you can still take the pledge on your own terms. Decide to do your own 30 days of unprocessed, starting right now! And you can read all the guest posts from the 2012 challenge right here.
The following people took the pledge:
|First Name||Last Name||Location||Comments|
|First Name||Last Name||Location||Comments|
|Kathleen||Vita||Connecticut||My 21 year old daughter and I took this challenge but since we did not start|
|Jessica||Canada||Just saw this & I am inspired to be part of the Pledge :)|
|Daiana||Radulescu||România||I'm in! Although I have been into a similar, but more "drastic" experience in Oct. - 18 days of blendered raw fruits and vegetables. Felt amazing! Wanna try this now.|
|Tiffany||NE||I know it is December 2. But I just found this and I am going to do this!!|
|Krista||Girvan||Edmonton||Just stumbled upont the site. Going to start this week!|
|Amy||Iowa||Just found the site. Missed October so we are going to try in in December!!|
|Bruce||Aitken||Toronto ON||Great idea to encourage a healthy diet. I've been eating unprocessed for almost a year now since doing a candida cleanse. It's the only way to live!|
|Darren||Teitelbaum||Montreal, Canada||Would like to do this everyday. I'm a triathlete and I'm training to go pro and I like to have a clean but tasty diet!|
|Jen||Goron||Asheville, NC||Late, but going to do it a full 30 days!|
|Gina||Fox||NC||Missed it!! - Great idea! Will work on it for November!|
|Annmarie||Flaherty||south Boston||Hi. Very late!!! Could someone post some ideas for me that are child friendly? Thanks!|
|Katie||Reed||United States||Super late to this party, but love this idea. We already do most of this in our house and will do even more thanks to you and your help!|
|Georgia||Portland||been eating unprocessed since Jan 20th...still going strong!!!!!|
|Manasa||Gummalla||scared but il do it for my body!|
|Eileen||Herald||Arizona, USA||Missed October so I'll do it in November|
|Timothy||Foisie||United States||I am arriving a little late so I will try to do this for the remainder of 2012.|
|Margaret||Jennings||rochester||better late than never :)|
|cindy||tidrick||I pretty much live this way now, but I would like to hear/read about other people who do or even try it for a while.|
|Marianne||P||Utah||I'm anxious to try this for this month of November. My sister and I are starting a new phase for the rest of this year. This is a great start.|
|Bell||Sarian||i've been doing it for while now and i guess i'll tell you that i have|
|Jennifer||Sanchez||Orlando||Just found this while doing research and my husband and I will be doing this in November! Need to better our lives and body and seeing everyone else dedicated to this is a good motivator for us!|
|Emily||Thompson||Australia||(Highly) processed foods just make me feel awful - natural and wholesome foods all the way! Your body will love you for eating them and there's the unparalleled joy of cooking your own dishes (and you'll know there's no nasties in them)|
|Jason||Williams||Powhatan, VA||Found this on Halloween looking for yummy recipes. Going to do it for November!|
|Tami||orlando||My boyfriend and I started eating paleo about 4 weeks ago. It's no processed, no grains and no dairy at all. WOW AMAZING!!|
|chris||bell||Atlanta, GA||I'm late, but I'm doing this for the month of November. Just started on Saturday!|