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|
|Alicia||PA||I've been following 100 Days of Real Food, trying to be as unprocessed as possible with locally grown fruits and veggies and meats, no pesticides or fertilizers. Love it, but it is challenging at times, especially in winter!|
|Ashia||Long Island City, NY|
|Caitlin||Bernhard||Brooklyn, NY||My friend and I just made a pact to eat unprocessed for 20 days, then I found this website! We are joining late but carrying on.|
|Melissa||Contreras||Miami, FL||Already eating zero processed foods since August, but thought I'd join in!|
|Misty||M||Pittsburgh, PA||So happy that I found this site via friend Vicki K.|
|Christine||Hall||Portland, Oregon||I am working now to become an NTP. This will be perfect for me and my family!|
|Carl||Real||Los angeles||On Instagram @ realfoodforthought to see what I make and eat and how it works|
|Marlene||Farrell||Washington State||Great timing, with kids, before Halloween and the holidays hit!|
|Kimberly||Richardson||Council Grove, KS||Late, but I too and am looking for a change.|
|Johanna||Martin||Orange County, CA|
|Niki||McCain||AZ,USA||Late start as well, but my intentions are for a lifestyle change, not just a month.|
|Sandy||Kash||Novato, CA||I just found this site 5 minutes ago or I would have started with everyone on October 1st. Hope you are planning to do this again before next October.|
|Ciara||Dell||MTL, QC||I'm late, but I'm still gonna try:)|