Monday, October 1, 2012

October Unprocessed

I'm back! I took a few weeks off from blogging in order to finish my dissertation chapter. I'm not sure it helped significantly - I still went right down to the wire before meeting the deadline - but it did give me one less thing to think and worry about. Yes, I worry about blogging. I'm a worrier by nature, even about things I think are fun. Now that chapter five is hot off the presses (yes, chapter five, although it's only the second one I've written - it's complicated), I wanted to let you all know about a little pledge I signed last week.

This year, Jeff and I signed the October Unprocessed pledge, hosted by Andrew at Eating Rules. The concept is simple - go one month without eating any processed food. The reality is harder, as processed food of all sorts has insinuated itself into our kitchens and pantries. This is not just about Lean Cuisines and Hot Pockets - think refined white sugar, baking powder . . . even homogenized milk! Going unprocessed means that a great deal of thought needs to go into every food purchase. Labels need to be read, processes need to be researched, and knowledge needs to be gained. The basic metric for this is the Kitchen Test - if a food product could be made by a person of reasonable skill in a home kitchen using whole food ingredients, it passes. Since even this can be tricky to determine in some cases, Eating Rules has some lovely resources (like this guide) to help with the challenge. The idea is that, by the end of the month (or week or day, if you choose), participants will come away with a greater awareness of all the chemicals they are putting into their bodies (and perhaps realize that they feel happier and healthier without them!).

I struggled for a while with the idea of this challenge. After all, we essentially eat this way already. Our meals are prepared using fresh, whole, largely organic ingredients. We can and preserve and make lots of kitchen staples for ourselves. We rarely eat out. The processed ingredients that still reside in our pantry would be too difficult to get rid of (like white sugar or baking soda). It wouldn't be worth it. Yet another part of me said that this is exactly why we should take this challenge - to identify where the chemicals and engineered foods we still eat are hiding and to see if we can do without them.

I hope that we are able to rise to this challenge, evaluating our meals more critically. I hope that, by the end of this month, I am even more aware of what is going into my body and how it makes me feel. Finally, I hope that I can inspire some of you to join in - if not for a whole month, than a week or even a day. 

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