Welcome to the 6th Annual October Unprocessed!

October Unprocessed“Cubes” by Lernert & Sander, used with permission

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. By the end of October, 415 people took the pledge and got this movement really started. We’ve grown each year since then, and last year over 22,000 people joined in!

We’ve also shared a ton of guest posts each year, and this year will be no exception. (Want to read previous years’ guest posts? Here they are: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014)

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.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

Bob's Red Mill Logo

I’m thrilled to announce that Bob’s Red Mill and MightyNest are sponsoring this year’s challenge! I’m a huge fan of both companies, and they’re a perfect fit for the October Unprocessed.

Bob’s Red Mill makes wholesome and delicious real food, and MightyNest offers a wide variety of quality products for healthy living. I believe they are both companies that truly make the world a better place, and I’m proud to have their support.

Their sponsorship is a huge help in making October Unprocessed happen again this year — thank you, Bob’s Red Mill and MightyNest!

Awesome Bonus Freebie!

Bee's WrapOnce you take the October Unprocessed pledge, I’ll send you a code so you can get your first month of The MightyFix for free! This is a new service from MightyNest where they ship an amazing product to you that helps your family live healthier each month.

Your first month’s shipment will be two full-size pieces of Bee’s Wrap reusable storage wrap — absolutely free! (If you were to buy this at full price, it would be $19.05 with shipping.) I’ve been using Bee’s Wrap for awhile now, and just love the stuff… So after you take the pledge below, look for an email from me with instructions on how to take advantage of this sweet deal.

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 NameLocation (City/State)Comment
Stephen Akard Sanford, Florida Can I make a late pledge?
Elizabeth Weiss CA
Theresa Sax Maine Excited!
Janet Patterson Cotati , Calif delighted
Deanna Nasto Glastonbury, CT
Lois Hampton Harpster i'new and interested
Rachael Cleveland Poulsbo, WA
Shaun hymas Battle Ground/WA
Jesus llanos Allegan/MI I pledge to try for the whole month!
Barb H Clinton Township, Michigan
Caitlin Gharrity Loveland,co
Pat Dallinger UK
Brenna Spainhower OR
Melanie Rasset Minnesota
Raquel Creekmore Leoma/TN
Kimberley Moore Uniontown
Tina Dil Minneapolis, MN this will be a good thing for me.
Jessica Goldman Foung San Francisco LOVE THIS!!
Georgene Small Havre/MT
kathy v eugene, or I just found this site but I'm going to do this for the rest of the month.....if it goes well, I'll try for all of Nov. also!
Kim White Shaker Heights, Ohio I'm doing this in order to transition over to less processed foods.
Jessica Ducharme Phoenix, AZ
Stephanie Gonzalez Illinois I just found this so I'm pledging this last week of October
Tori Davenport Florida Wish all would:)

View and search the list of all 5493 awesome people!


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

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393 Responses to Welcome to the 6th Annual October Unprocessed!

  1. tw October 20, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    any bobs red mill coupons this year?

    • Andrew October 20, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

      Unfortunately not — switching to fully-digital coupons were a bit of a technical hurdle this time..hopefully we’ll have that figured out for next year! :)

  2. Kari October 5, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

    I hope that I can do this! Not going to be easy! :-)

  3. teresa October 2, 2015 at 3:06 am #

    Where is link to update or remove myself from pledge

  4. A October 1, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Curious to know if you consider the following processed –

    ” Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.”

    Canned/Jarred whole tomatoes, flour, cornmeal, canned beans, sausages, bacon, cured or smoked meats, yoghurt, cheese, frozen fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, bread, dried pasta, cous cous??

    Would love to take the pledge but need to know what I am pledging to-

  5. Amy Galiano September 30, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    Can’t wait!

  6. Bill Pederson September 30, 2015 at 8:30 am #


  7. Reese September 29, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    Learning to make real food is better than processed packages.

  8. Kim September 28, 2015 at 1:59 am #

    I’m excited to detox!

  9. Elizabeth September 27, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

    Hello! I’m looking forward to my second October Unprocessed. Hoping to win the Bob’s Red Mill Giveaway. All the grains and beans will go beautifully with my family’s favorite roasted veg.

  10. Kristin September 27, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    Since Bobs is a sponsor and I just bought their whole wheat flour….do you consider whole wheat flour a processed ingredient?

  11. Schiller Schroeder September 27, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    One of the biggest challenges I had last year was mustard. We use a ton & all brands I checked had preservatives or natural favors. i found this website for homemade yellow mustard and wanted to share. Super easy to make and now I know I have a true unprocessed mustard to use in October. May never buy bottled stuff again!

    • Jennifer September 28, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

      Hi Schiller Schroeder,

      I would love your mustard recipe! I’m trying to eliminate processed foods from my kitchen, and I use mustard a lot!

      Thank you,

  12. Lauren September 27, 2015 at 6:41 am #

    Can’t wait to try this again this year! Normally I eat this way so I’m excited to try some new recipes this time around!

  13. Deb September 26, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

    Raleigh, nc

  14. Stacie Tarantino September 26, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    Love’n it! Sharing with friends.


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