Welcome to the 5th Annual October Unprocessed!

October Unprocessed 2014

Sure, it’s after October, but it’s never too late to take charge of your plate.
You can start today! Read on. . .

Way back 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?

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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! It’s grown each year since: In 2011, more than 3,000 people participated, and we shared 55 guest posts. The 2012 challenge inspired more than 6,000 people and we shared a whopping 93 guest posts!

And would you believe that last year, more than 15,500 people took the pledge (and we had 44 guest posts, too!).

Although it’s a lot 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

The first question I’m always asked is, “How do you 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 a more in-depth discussion of the definition, and we’ll continue exploring it as October approaches.

Let’s Do It!

Commit to eating no processed foods during the month of October by signing your name below.

This is an exercise in awareness. If an entire month is too much of a commitment, that’s okay. Maybe it’s only a week? Maybe just a day? Sign the pledge, and indicate your support!

Maybe you’re not comfortable with my definition of “unprocessed.” That’s okay, too. Decide what it means to you and take the pledge on your terms.

Need an exception? Sure, no problem. Just make sure it’s a deliberate choice, not just because of a habit.

Whatever your level of commitment (even if it’s for just one day, please sign the pledge), and discover how it changes you, your family, your community, and the world.

Take the October Unprocessed Pledge Here!

By taking the pledge you’ll also receive new blog posts by email; you can unsubscribe anytime–no hard feelings! Of course, your email address will never be shared or displayed publicly.

The following people have taken the pledge:

First NameLast NameLocationComment
Ashley Harris Ohio
kelly jefcoat laurel, ms
Jess Godoy Virginia Beach
Daniel Timoshenko 98275
Madeline Smith Oakland
Christina Zeringue United States Super psyched! I've been planning to try Unprocessed August-and so why not try to go until October?
Stephanie Patton Lima, Ohio
Smiti Kaul NC
Syaza Nadzirah Malaysia
Christina Fiebeck Miami, Fl
Andrea Lapotaire Texas
donna hirth` allentown pa can't wait to try the chocloate cake
sue jones 09432
Darlene Loflin huh
madison hughes Texas
jennifer randazza las vegas
Marie Keating Farmington Hills, MI
kavin jaganrain new york
Kim Kim Kansas
Ken Gertner United States I'm ready, and up for this!
Polly W Ontario
robbyn schirmer wisconsin yep
mary westendorf 50647
Marilyn Van Brunt MA thx

View and search the list of all 22564 awesome people!


You can leave a comment below, but if you want to take the pledge, please fill out the form above! 

336 Responses to Welcome to the 5th Annual October Unprocessed!

  1. Mary Hess September 24, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    I’m in!

  2. Tonya Gastineau September 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    I pledge clean eating in October.

  3. Katie Wessels September 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Ohio! I’m ready for October Unprocessed!

  4. Barbara Mears September 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm #


  5. Holly England September 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    I gladly pledge to unprocessed October!

  6. Lindsay K September 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm #


  7. Lindsay K September 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm #


  8. Karen September 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    What wouldn’t I make?!? I have wanted one of these for as long as I can remember. I would use it for everything!

  9. Lindsay September 24, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    I will try for one week not to eat any processed foods!!!

  10. cathy September 24, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    love bobs red mill products

  11. Jazmyne September 24, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    I’m in….lets do it !!

  12. lindsay September 24, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    one month!

  13. sharon Kingsley September 25, 2014 at 5:42 am #

    I love Kitchen Aid, in red , of course

  14. Darnell's keyser September 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Excited to try this!

  15. Margaret Jennings September 26, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    Would the Lay’s Potato Chips pass the Kitchen Test? The ingredients are: potatoes, vegetable oil and salt.

    • Andrew September 26, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      Hi Margaret! I’d say no – because vegetable oil doesn’t pass the kitchen test. (It’s not so easy to extract oil out of vegetables…).

      But it’s also pretty easy to make your own! Just slice some potatoes very thin — a mandoline definitely helps here — and then pan-fry them in a little olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt. Delicious!


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