Welcome to October Unprocessed 2017!

October Unprocessed 2016

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 — by now, more than 30,000 people have 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, 2014, 2015, and 2016.)

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

Bob's Red Mill LogoBob’s Red Mill makes wholesome and delicious real food, with an emphasis on whole grains. They’re a longtime sponsor of October Unprocessed, and I’m proud to be working with them again.
Primo WaterPrimo Water makes high-quality home and office water dispensers and 5-gallon bottled water. This is their first year sponsoring the challenge, and I’m thrilled to welcome them — because what you drink is as important as what you eat.

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.


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 NameLast NameLocation (City/State)Comment
Sheridan Colbourn Danville/ CA
Jay King Florida
Michele Pitts Spring Valley
rachel campbell acworth, ga
Mayra Garcia Chula vista/CA
Karen Forbes Ontario, Canada
Letta Laux Twin Falls, Idaho
Natasha Udy Washington
Allison DelGallo Pa
Jaymie C Los Angeles, CA
Laura Bergstrom Annapolis, MD
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
shanah backman newport RI
Renee Simmons Hillsboro, OR
DaY Roberson Buffalo, Wyoming
Alicia Daniels Washington WV
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!
Kim Myers Columbia, SC
Ashley Russell Chicago, IL 4th year participant, ready to roll!
Vicente Mackellar Great Britain, Sundon Park Super share it is really. My friend has been awaiting for this information.

View and search the list of all 2485 awesome people!


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.

Leave a Reply

35 Comments on "Welcome to October Unprocessed 2017!"

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Monika Robinski

Kind of makes me feel proud. Apparently people find it hard to do , what I do every day. Cooking with simple ingredients. Good luck!


Thanks the average person myself included eats so many processed foods without a second thought. And to walk away from them are hard especially with children processed foods are easy to grab and appeal a great deal to tiny people.

JC Richtofen

Fat is not bad for you in moderation. In fact, fats are needed as part of a healthy diet. We need to educate people better about fats and what they are and how they are needed.

Kenani Y. Gertner

I have had a great deal of physical problems, and a doctor actually caused me diabetes, so I try harder to eat healthier, but I’ve always started with wholesome, unprossed goods, which I cook from scratch, no boxed refuse for my family.

hanna beck

Looking forward to creating delicious whole-grain meals with fresh in season produce! I love Bob’s Red Mill, and I love knowing what is in all the food I eat!

Darlene Latshaw

Can’t wait to meet some of you in person at the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore the end of September!


I think the $5 bento box is the most exciting for me

Jacqueline Davis

October 2016, just need to stay focused on yes and no foods! I’d make a muffin in a mug and my waffles. Yum!!


Looking forward to joining the challenge


What is the best protein powder I can use on the unprocessed challenge?


I’m looking forward to this challenge and learning more about how to use Bob’s Ree Mill products!

Brandy Bowers

Can’t wait for this one

Erin Kriz

I already eat this way every day. Fresh, whole, unprocessed foods are a must in my home. Congratulations to all of you who are pledging to eat healthier! The more you do it, the more your body will crave the good stuff. Listen to your body and stay focused on your health!


Can’t find the link!


Can’t get the pledge link to operate for me. Want to take the pledge though.

Hayley Metzger

Let’s do this!!