In October 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. Years later, more than 30,000 people have joined in.
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.
Set Yourself up for Unprocessed Success!
The October Unprocessed Challenge is totally free — but if you want a complete plan for unprocessed success for the next four weeks (and beyond), check out my Real Food Rescue program!
Filled with guidance, strategies, printable checklists & worksheets, dozens of recipes, and meal plans — this is the easiest way to have all the best resources and guidance at your disposal, helping you take control of what you eat, feel great, and transform your life.
Get $10 off the Real Food Rescue when you take the October Unprocessed pledge and purchase during September or October! (Once you take the pledge below, I’ll email you the discount code.)
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.
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.
You can leave a comment below, but if you want to take the pledge, please fill out the form above!
I guess because of pandemic I don’t see as many comments as usual. I enjoy reading others because get inspiration. I am doing it again this year because it reminds me to stay healthy and cook from scratch is always a better option. I rediscovered beans. So, cooking more dishes with them lately. Due to pandemic and crazy schedules, I decided to keep recipes simple. I love this! I usually go all the way out in October but I don’t have time. Simplicity has made me discover good food I forgot about. One thing I am committed to try this October is homemade cream cheese!
I tried to post your URL in a Facebook group and FB told me it was against community standards! I love your site and want to recommend it to my diabetes group.
That’s weird! I can’t think of any reason why this would violate any “community standards,” but unfortunately Facebook does what Facebook wants to do… Thanks for joining in and sharing, though!
There is something wrong with the sign up form. Wheel just keeps spinning.