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. Jennifer November 1, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    I did much better than I thought in October Unprocessed. I was actually able to survive 30 days of being processed free! With Halloween being my favorite holiday, I knew I didn’t stand a chance going unprocessed that day. The best thing about October Unprocessed is realizing how little I miss processed foods. I can say that, even after eating nothing but processed foods yesterday, processed foods have majorly lost their appeal. I’m ready to get rid of all the extra candy and what not from Halloween and don’t feel like I’m missing out on much. I’m going to have to work hard on maintaining these feelings but I truly hope October Unprocessed has changed my eating habits for good. Thank you for the support and for the knowledge. Here’s to eating better!

  2. christine November 1, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    i heard about this through someone else and signed up. While I wasnt 100% successful it really helped me be more aware of what i was eating and reinforced the need to read labels or preferably eat foods that dont need labels. Eating at home was easy as I tend to cook anyway and i just needed to swap a few ingredients to be unprocessed. Eating out was where it went wrong. I will definately sign up if you do it again next year. Also thanks for the recipes – there were some great ones I have kept for future use.

  3. Mary Papoulias-Platis November 1, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    This was my third year with this challenge! It was much easier this year, only because I knew how prepared I had to be to make it throughout the entire month.
    This is what I did differently this year to survive:
    – Stocked up on my beans and legumes.
    – Made a big batch of vegetable broth, and froze it in small batches.
    – Pulled out all my spices for added flavor for my quick dinners.
    – Made a big salad everyday and threw whatever I had on it for a meal.
    – Used my Vitamix daily for power drinks.
    After reading all the guest posts, I was energized daily and motivated to stay on track!
    Thank-you Andrew and your staff for all your hard work – this month was so successful!

  4. Jennifer November 1, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    I loved this challenge! Thought I ate unprocessed before – but I learned I can improve in several areas: never thought about the gum I chew as processed. Still chewed it. Never thought about sugar as a processed food. Learned to use honey or maple sugar-tasty! Never thought about “good” chocolate being highly processed. I now make my own and can add flavorings! Excellent and easy! I forgot the taste and ease of a homemade corn tortilla. I make these several times a week now. I will stop now. Andrew – this is so great! Thank you for caring so much and for helping so many. And your guest blogs and recipes were outstanding! So wonderful. Thank you, thank you.

  5. Kim November 1, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    I don’t even know where to start with my appreciation for what you, and your team, have given me!! It has been comforting to know that I haven’t been alone in this life transforming process that I have begun. This has been an absolute blessing to me and given me so many tools to work with! I have alot of work to do to continue to clean things up around here…. 🙂 but I am amazed at how much I was able improve in the month of October! This process means so much to me and I am just so thankful for all that you and your team have given to me! Will I be able to continue to access all of the information that has been shared and posted?

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!!!!
    Kim R.

  6. Nancy S November 1, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    I have given up soda for good so I consider the month a great success. I started cooking more and became much more aware of everything I buy and eat. Thank you so much for making a healthy eater that much more healthy. It is a challenge but one worth thinking about all year long.

  7. Barbara November 1, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    This has been a really interesting experience. Here’s what I learned:
    1. I can survive without diet soda, but not without chewing gum.
    2. Some brands of herbal tea have artificial flavors and colors. (Really? Why?)
    3. Lowfat ice cream and frozen yogurt that have stabilizers instead of fat are really disgusting once you stop eating stabilizers.
    4. I love to bake and can happily bake every day. I allowed myself sugar if I was using it to bake, but tended to use a little as possible.
    5. Even eating out is manageable if you allow for packaged breads and stick to mostly salads with oil and vinegar or lemon instead of dressing.
    6. It was horrifying to read the labels of some foods that I might have previously considered clean or healthy.

  8. Kristen November 1, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Thanks for all the great recipe posts, I made several of them, particularly ones that had ancient grains or beans in them. I do have to say that some of the articles were a bit off the charts – I’m not making my own pancetta or cheese – I mean, who’s got time for that! As important as eating unprocessed, or “close to the earth” is to me, I also have to balance my time – between working, family, exercise, etc. Eating healthy food is an important component of my lifestyle, but there’s a line to maintaining sanity. All in all, I really enjoyed October Unprocessed, and appreciate the long term changes it’s enabled me to make to my pantry.

  9. Elle November 1, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    This is my second time participating in the October unprocessed challenge.
    Last time was really hard and I had to think about every bite I put into my mouth – but it was a life changing experience for me. Since then our nutrition at home has improved immensely (for instance, we don’t buy bread anymore – I bake all of our bread/pita/buns etc) so this time the challenge was easier though there was some white flour involved (most of what I bake is a combination of whole and white grains) and there was way too much sugar… can’t seem to kick that bad habit!

  10. Marsha November 1, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Because I already eat 80 to 90% unprocessed my goal was to be 100% for the entire month……Ha! Didn’t happen! My mom’s birthday was 3 days into the challenge and she wanted to go out for dinner 🙂 Can’t say no to mom! We normally do not eat out (I actually couldn’t remember the last time I ate out) and I ended up eating out 4 times during October. On a positive note the challenge did keep me from buying those few bad things that always seem to end up in my grocery cart. I’ve set a goal that they will never enter my grocery cart again (we’ll see how long it takes my husband to miss them…he hasn’t said anything yet). Thank you so much for giving me a great push to take it up a notch on our real food journey. All of the articles and recipes were awesome!

  11. Mary Kate November 1, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    I THOROUGHLY enjoyed this Unprocessed October Challenge. Like a lot of people, we didn’t do quite as good towards the end of the month (thank you Mother In Law for sending us that huge box of Halloween candy…)but I learned a lot. I can’t say that I really noticed feeling better but on the other hand…I really didn’t “miss” or “crave” any of the processed stuff either. I don’t think there is really going back to the time before the challenge. For us, it is full speed ahead to continued unprocessed eating! And now, I have even more tools in my belt- I won’t be buying almond milk, Lara bars, or corn tortillas any time soon! THANK YOU!

  12. Mike November 1, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Did pretty well…. I had a handful of peanut M&M’s twice, one KitKat bar and a turkey sub with Sunchips from Subway…. other than that, lot’s of fruits and veggies, no farm raised fish and organic everything else….. There you have it! I’m off to Carl’s Jr!!!!

  13. Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator November 1, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    I did pretty well… made a few candy-related exceptions. I feel like it helped me with my blog and connect to my readers, which was great. I was REALLY tired of photographing all my meals again this year, and don’t think I’ll do that again, but overall it was good.

  14. Rachael Warrington November 1, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    This helped to keep the entire processed foods in the fore front. I cooked more, and made the choice to enjoy the cooking. I work full time so I get home tired…but I want to spend time with my family and nourish them with a good, home cooked meal.

    We have eliminated most of the processed foods in our pantry and freezer. There will be a few always, but the overall task is done. We eat real, humanely raised food.

  15. Midge November 1, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    I was glad I participated in October Unprocessed again this year. I went in with the intention of hopefully trying to make this year better than last year. However, unexpected personal situations kinda threw me for a loop. But I did my very best, and I really learned a lot from the blog posts, and I know I will go back to them.

    Andrew, thanks so much for everything. I’m kinda looking forward to next year already. In the meantime, I’ll try to get the Unprocessed spirit going until then :).

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