At Bob’s Red Mill, “unprocessed” foods are our bread and butter. We pride ourselves on keeping true to the ingredients we use. You know the drill by now- one pound in, one pound out. No preservatives, no weird chemicals, just grains, beans or seeds. When Andrew from Eating Rules approached us to write a blog post for October: Unprocessed, we jumped at the opportunity to become a member of this group and take on his challenge in our own lives.
What is October: Unprocessed? Struck by the realization that much of the food we eat in the United States is full of chemicals for flavor, freshness, color, as well as excessive levels of sugar, fat and salt, Andrew challenged himself to take a month off from all of these excessively processed foods. That was in October of 2009. This year, he’s taking it to a new level and challenging everyone to try a month without processed foods.
What is a “processed” food? This is sort of a nebulous territory- ‘processed’ can mean many different things. If you want to be strict about it- even an egg from a chicken has been ‘processed’ if it came from the grocery store. Fortunately, Andrew isn’t asking us to go that far. His definition is as follows: Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients.
That can mean different things to different people. I like to think of it in terms of Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, which basically says- if your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, it isn’t. Even then, it’s a little fuzzy, but I’m taking up his challenge anyway. Yep- even while we’re trekking through Scotland in our quest to win the Golden Spurtle again, I’ll be passing on the convenient convenience foods. I hate to admit that I ever eat them anyway, but I admit it- I, too, occasionally indulge in candy bars, soda pop and other sinful snacks.
One particular challenge in my household (yes, I did talk the hubs into taking the challenge too) is that we’re dairy free and vegetarian. So where do I draw my “processed” line? I think this will apply to a lot of people on the gluten free diet or with other food issues. When you try to eat foods that are out of the ‘norm’, you find yourself eating foods that are a little on the questionable side. You find yourself wondering what IS that weird ingredient in the vegetarian sausage? Soy sour cream? That can’t be ‘unprocessed.’ Regular sour cream passes the test with flying colors and the soy version has less bad fats and cholesterol, but it also has a slew of weird stuff. Where does soy butter come into play? You get my drift. We’re cutting out anything that’s obviously processed- kiss my soy and veggie meats goodbye- unless I make them myself- and out with the fake sour cream and fake cheeses. We shouldn’t be eating them anyway- at least not in any appreciable quantity. I’m keeping the soy margarine and my KIND bars, thank you very much.
I challenge you to join us and take on a month of consciously choosing your food. We have several people taking the challenge here at Bob’s and we’d love your company. Head on over to Eating Rules and sign up for the challenge. Andrew has given a few guidelines to make the challenge functional for all types and is hosting guest posts from bloggers of every type all month long. Good luck! I’ll keep you posted on my progress and keep me posted on yours if you choose to join us.