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. Lori November 1, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    The best thing about unprocessed October, was how involved and excited my husband got. Every day or couple of days, we’d go through a cookbook and pick out various recipes we each wanted to do. One Saturday, we spent the ENTIRE day cooking. It was so much fun and so rewarding! We loved it. We fell off the wagon towards the end, our lives just got really hectic, but this experience was enough to make some minor (and major in areas) changes to our lifestyle and I think next year will be much easier!
    Thank you!

  2. sunny stewart November 1, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    “They” say it takes 30 days of doing something to become habit. I took the challenge in hopes of improving the health and lifestyle of my family. I had imagined rushing to the grocery store on the 1st of November with a list of what we had missed most, but what I realized is… we didn’t miss much. Thank you for providing the challenge- we are on day 32#!

  3. Will November 1, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Well, I “failed” the challenge–I kicked off October 1st by eating a bag of Fritos at work–but this has made me exponentially more aware of processed crud in our food, and throughout the month, my partner and I did commit to eating more whole foods. That’s something I’ll be carrying into November and beyond, especially as we prepare to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my whole family.

    I also loved the DIY recipes on the site, particularly for condiments. I never even thought about making my own pickles or mustard, but now I really want to! So, in short, I might not have mastered the challenge, but I’ve got skills and tips to use in the coming months. Thanks for doing this!

    PS When people would ask me about this, I would scratch my chin and say, “Uhhh…it’s like NaNoWriMo, but for food!” This did nothing to un-confuse them.

  4. Andrea November 1, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Thank you so much for all your hard work I looked forward to your emails every day will continue eating unprocessed. Thank you!!

  5. LiztheChef November 1, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Thanks for making “unprocessed” a popular and often-spoken word in our family. I loved hearing my husband ask, “Is it ‘UNPROCESSED’ ?”

    As often as I make jams and chutneys, it was a relief to discover honey is a beautiful substitute for white sugar.

  6. Michelle November 1, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Thank you for giving me this challenge. I just posted about my 31 days. My children I think benefited the most without them even realizing it.

  7. Colleen November 1, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    For me, October Unprocessed month was a month of discovery. I have been working on a whole foods diet now for a year, but I have been alone in my education for the most part. I was taking an exuberant amount of medication for my rapidly failing illnesses and just couldn’t live that way anymore.

    As of a few weeks ago, I have gone from taking 120 units+ of insulin a day to NONE. I feel better, have reacquired my sense of taste and smell, and am happier. Part of that was discovering Eating Rules and the many contributors that have put their time, effort, and knowledge into something I truly believe in.

    I have read all the comments, learning from ALL OF YOU. I no longer feel so isolated in my quest for understanding and this last month has seen me walk away with many more skills at hand. I, myself, have been writing a series of books on health and whole foods and these books have been enriched by the knowledge I have gained here to help more people.

    Thanks to all of you, including my fellow unprocessed challenge members!!! This was a HUGH undertaking, much appreciated by this member. Now, does anyone have a recipe for “unprocessed” Coke Zero? (grin)

  8. Stephanie November 1, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    This was my second year, and I think it went great! We don’t eat much processed food at all, but we kicked the last of it out of the house this year. I spent all month trying different graham cracker recipes to keep my husband and son happy after I refused to buy more from the grocery store.

    We will sustain it. Everyone is happier and more energetic after kicking those last few foods out of our kitchen. We had one exception all month, and that was when we went out for some frozen yogurt to celebrate my son’s last soccer game. So not bad at all!

  9. Naniboujou November 1, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    My goal was to become more aware and that went fine. Definitely did not eat 100% unprocessed, but am taking baby steps. I also hired a personal chef! This is actually very cost effective in my southern neck of the woods,not all hoitie toitie like one might expect. If the chef doesn’t work out (i.e. ends up not being as cost-effective as I expect), then thefresh20 is my fall-back plan.

    I’ve LOVED the guest bloggers and am looking forward to seeing what’s next on eatingrules, since October was my first month of reading!

  10. Katswan November 1, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    I ‘m so glad that I stumbled upon your blog this month! October Unprocessed was definitely a challenge but in a good way. There was much cheating to be done but I plan to make this a lifestyle change beyond October so I can live with that.

    I am excited about training throughout the year for 2013’s challenge, which will hopefully be much easier and just a part of my regular lifestyle by then. I look forward to long life together…

    Thank you for opening my eyes wider.

  11. Tarissa November 1, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    I am so thankful for the October Unprocessed Challenge! Just prior to this challenge, I had given up my lifelong love affair with Diet Coke (and all other caffeine and soda along with it). Having the motivation of this challenge really kept me on track! It also helped me take a careful look at everything I was feeding my family. I felt like I was looking at our meals through a whole new set of eyes. I spent more time in the kitchen than ever before and discovered many delicious, unprocessed snacks to replace some of the worst of the worst junk foods in our home. This challenge has permanently changed the way we eat. We will definitely not be going back to all the boxed, canned, frozen, and take-out junk food that we used to eat. I love sitting down with my family for a wholesome, whole foods meal. I love knowing that the food I send in my children’s lunches is nourishing their mind and body. Thank you so much, Andrew, and all who worked so hard on this amazing challenge. You are really making a difference!

  12. Janelle November 1, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    The challenge was a challenge, but what I found was that I had been staying away from processed foods in the past more than I gave myself credit for. For the month of October, I did have several “cheat” days, that I did regret after the fact. I will carry my new ways into the future, but I feel that I need to be more knowledgeable on reading ingredients on food labels. So many times things are listed that seem to be unprocessed, but really are processed. I will continue to research ways to be more informed on the ingredients of things that I am eating. I have really enjoyed being creative in making “whole” food meals! I was the winner of one the cook books. I have used it several times and will continue to reference it for meals! Overall, I enjoyed the challenge, and will continue to work on my unprocessed lifestyle 🙂

  13. Carol November 1, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    This was definitely a “CHALLENGE” for my husband and myself……..but we made it through October. Of course we just did the best we could. Our biggest challenge was similar to yours, Andrew. Eating out caused some big downfalls for us. We did buy many unprocessed foods. We also ate many fresh foods, which we were doing anyway. We are looking at ingredients much more closely. We purchased products we would not have done if we had not participated in your challenge. Our challenge now is to keep it up and continue to do better than ever. Thanks for your efforts and those who helped you make this challenge happen.

  14. Julie Moore November 1, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    Well, though I did not come through October completely unprocessed, I learned a lot more about me through it all. I have learned that I have a lot more will-power than I once thought, but also that I feel better when I follow the rules. I allow for exceptions, but October has taught me to make those few and far between – for my health’s sake! 🙂 Thank you again for the challenge! It was a great (though indeed extremely challenging at times) experience, and I hope to be a part of it next year! 🙂

  15. April November 1, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    The challenge was really good, a little difficult at times, but I learned so much. The daily articles were amazing and they encouraged me to do more research about processed foods on my own. I talked about the challenge so much at the gym, I was able to talk a few other people into doing the challenge through November. They are very excited and of course a little nervous, but I could not be happier to introduce them to this lifestyle. We’re even having an unprocessed food potluck! Thank you!!!

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