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?
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. By the end of October, 415 people took the pledge and got this movement really started. We’ve grown each year since then — by now, more than 30,000 people have joined in.
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 unprocessed?”
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.
Thanks to our sponsors, who make the challenge possible
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 show 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.
Take the October Unprocessed Pledge Here!
If you don’t see the pledge form, please try this page instead.
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 Name||Last Name||Location (City/State)||Comment|
|Lori||Mills||El Dorado, California||cool idea! great website 🙂|
|Brigette||Johnson||Garden Grove, CA|
|Letta||Laux||Twin Falls, Idaho|
|Jaymie||C||Los Angeles, CA|
|leslie||french||san francisco ca|
|Ann||Kiff||Cornwall||Love this! As a Typec1 diabetic who tries to educate diabetics how great your own home cooked meal can taste with good ingredients .. you've hit it spot on with this yearly pledge. Let's hope many continue all year round!!|
|Amy||Ali||eastvale||haha, you have a Hersey Kiss add at the bottom of the page for an add. love the challenge|
|Jill||Jones||Canada Ontario||don't forget Canada|
|Samantha||Martin||Mount Sterling, Kentucky||Thank you !!|
|Chris||Rider||Slidell, LA||Getting a late start but am looking forward to the challenge. Love to cook with Whole Foods.|
|Cindy||Gould||Worcester MA||I know that I won’t be able to do this 100% for the next month, but I will aim for 2/3 of my meals & snacks to be unprocessed. For me, that’s a huge change!|
You can leave a comment below, but if you want to take the pledge, please fill out the form above!
Photo of kneading dough by Gaelle Marcel.