So… How’d it go?

October Unprocessed 2012 on Pinterest

Well, we did it!! At last count, 6,133 people signed the October Unprocessed pledge, and we shared three guest posts every single day this month — a whopping 93 posts!

I’m going to (try to) keep it brief today because, frankly, I could use a day off! But I do want to say just a couple of things.


It’s staggering the number of people who came together and volunteered their time, expertise, and talents to help make this project happen. First and foremost, I want to thank all the guest authors. Their contributions were mouth-watering, creative, beautiful, helpful, and so much more. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The food blogging and wellness community is one of the finest groups of people I’ve ever been blessed to know and be a part of, and for that I am truly blessed and grateful.

Thanks to Stacy Spensley from Center Stage Wellness, for The Official Guide to October Unprocessed (which I hope you found helpful!), and for giving us excellent strategies for overcoming mental hurdles. And to Sabrina Modelle from The Tomato Tart, who designed the wonderful logo and shared her delicious, vegan cream cheese recipe.

I’m grateful to everyone who helped spread the word about the challenge — including so many bloggers and reporters. Every blog post, article, Tweet, and Facebook share made a huge difference. I’m especially indebted to the talented Rene Lynch at the Los Angeles Times, who has championed the cause for the past three years.

There are also two people who have been working completely “behind the scenes” that deserve some public praise.  First is Hannah, my awesome assistant. We’ve been working together since February to bring this whole project together, and I credit (what’s left of) my sanity to her.  And then there’s Matty, my wonderfully supportive husband. He’s put up with all my unprocessed shenanigans… and my long hours in front of the computer. Thanks, honey.

Finally, thank you to everyone who took the challenge and participated in any way – including those folks who weren’t ready to sign the pledge, and just read along all month. This challenge is really all about all of you, and I hope it’s been a positive experience.

So… How’d it go?

I suppose you’re wondering how I did on the challenge? Of course, I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into, having done it three times before. But for some reason (umm, how about 93 guest posts?), this year I found myself more willing to “fudge” the rules in certain circumstances. At home, it was no problem – since the only foods we brought into the house passed the kitchen test. But when we’d go out to parties or other social gatherings, or would travel, I found myself being just a bit more flexible than, in retrospect, I would have liked, eating a few things here and there that definitely broke the rules. But that’s okay, I’m not beating myself up about it. (I’m just glad nobody caught me stuffing my face with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Mountain Dew!  Just kidding, just kidding…)

I’m guessing most folks had their ups-and-downs, too (that’s why it’s called a “challenge,” after all). I’d love to hear the highlights and the most positive “takeaways” from your experience. What I’m most interested in hearing about is how this experience may have changed you. What will you take with you into November and beyond? Please share in the comments below!

PS – I’ll be putting together a thorough survey in the next few days, so if you have specific thoughts and feedback about the challenge itself, that’ll be the place to let me know. I’ve done that in the past and it’s been tremendously helpful – I consider all of the feedback very carefully!

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85 Responses to So… How’d it go?

  1. Rachel J November 13, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    My husband,I and our three kiddos were already on the 100 days of real food challenge, so this overlapped. Doing both of these challenges helped us see how poorly we were really eating and clean up our act. All of the articles, recipes, etc were great to keep our momentum going to make sure we finished both challenges well and are aware of what we’re putting in our mouths.

  2. Cindy November 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Like others, I realized that while I had thought I was eating healthily, I was actually eating a lot of processed ingredients. My family has made a number of positive changes over the course of October that we are taking with us into November and beyond. I am very appreciative of the October Unprocessed challenge because it gave me the impetus to try something I otherwise would not have tried.
    Thank you!

  3. Emily November 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Participating in October Unprocessed was eye-opening and life-changing for me. Before the challenge, I generally thought my food choices were healthy, but really I was eating lots of processed sugars and processed foods marketed as healthy. I discovered the challenge at the perfect time; I was very unhappy, largely due to my poor relationship with food. I needed something to set me back on the right track. Now that I’ve completed the month, I feel much better about myself. I am happier and healthier. I feel that the challenge reprogrammed my body and mind towards a clean, healthy way of living from which I don’t intend to deviate. My mind feels clearer. My body is no longer poisoned by the artificial substances that once caused me to want to over-consume. I am more confident and happier than I’ve ever been. It’s a more ethical way of living than consuming lots of packaged, processed items.

  4. Jennifer November 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    I have a suggestion for next year. I’d like to see local restaurants be involved with the October Unprocessed challenge. I live in Northeast LA and there are lots of small neighborhood restaurants that tout their use of local ingredients. But, what goes into each dish besides the lovely local produce? I’d love to see these restaurants challenge themselves to provide one dish each day that doesn’t include any processed ingredients. Including a list of participating restaurants might help to link like-minded customers with the restaurants that provide what they are looking for. It would also broaden the base of the challenge to include more than just what we prepare for ourselves at home.

  5. Ruth November 4, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    I saw your article in the LA Times and thought, why not. I love a good challenge. Got my husband on board and we jumped in. We’ve have a really good month, trying out new recipes, adapting our old favorites to be unprocessed and we’re not stopping. We haven’t eaten this well in a long time. I LOVE my paper bag popcorn and my baked granola. We weren’t perfect but we are so much more aware and in tune with what we are eating. Thank you so much.

  6. Stephanie Johnson November 4, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    This challenge was exciting! I thoroughly enjoyed the guests posts and checking out their blogs 😉 I enjoyed adding new recipes to my repertoire. I also had fun taking old favorites and tweaking them so that they would pass the kitchen test. I had a baby September 4th and this was the perfect opportunity to monitor what I was eating. My biggest improvements were better digestion and increased energy! I could have been more diligent if my hubby wasn’t so picky but we’ve made huge improvements.

  7. Tanya November 4, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    This was super hard for me, especially since I’m still staying with family until I can afford my own place in a couple months. I’m not the primary grocery shopper, so things that aren’t so unprocessed often find their way into the house. This made it extra challenging, so I found myself “minimizing” damage. I would eat more of the unprocessed stuff and have just a little processed stuff that was served on the table at family dinners. One of the ways I would do this was to eat lots of veggies. And OK I admit I had two pieces of (processed) candy on Halloween, BUT I made sure they had no trans fats! And to be completely honest, this was a HUGE IMPROVEMENT over last year, where I bought myself my own bag of candy. And that’s it. No more store-bought candy for me. If I want a treat, I’m going to make it myself, or get over it. Thanks for all your posts! Even if I didn’t try them all yet, I will save them for later use when I have my own kitchen!

  8. Tally November 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    This was a huge challenge and I frequently failed, but it did make me think more about what I am eating — we think we aren’t eating much “processed” food but this made me aware that even many things I considered “healthy” are not…I plan to work on increasing the “unprocessed” items in our diet in the future. Unfortunately, my husband cooks more frequently than I do and we do eat out a lot due to social obligations so going totally unprocessed is clearly not possible unless we abandon our social life. I really enjoyed the challenge, though, and am grateful for all the posts and comments.

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