October Unprocessed Challenge: Prelude: 2 weeks out

Ok, so starting two weeks from tonight, I will embark on the October Unprocessed Challenge. I decided about a week ago that I would take the challenge, and I am glad I gave myself some time to prepare, because the more I think about it, the harder I think it will be. Mostly, I have been analyzing the meals and snacks I eat regularly and trying to figure out how the heck I am going to make them unprocessed. More than likely I will just have to give them up for a month.

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Pizza Rolls, I think I’ll miss you most of all.

Even though the concept of a diet consisting entirely of unprocessed foods is a pretty ancient one — in fact, the idea of it being a challenge is what is fairly new — I am using modern technology to assist me for the month of October.

First, I am joining a local CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture project. The packages and prices vary depending on the farms in your area, but essentially, you purchase a subscription and get a periodic delivery of fresh, organic produce. Mine will be a weekly delivery that I can pick up at a farmer’s market just a few blocks from my apartment. I understand that not everyone is as lucky as I am to have such a sweet CSA setup, but if you are taking the challenge, too, check out CSAs in your area. You might be surprised what you find.

Second, Pinterest is really becoming a great internet resource for easily locating specific kinds of recipes. I have pinned and repinned a number of appropriate recipes for October Unprocessed, and I plan to pin more as the month progresses. Please check back with my October Unprocessed recipes board for all the good stuff.

Third, and this doesn’t have to be a technological advance (although virtual buddies work well for this, too), get yourself a buddy who is also taking the challenge! I managed to convince my pal Sarah, author of the fabulous cook.can.read food blog, to join me in the challenge. I think it will make it easier to have someone to cheer you on and give you inspiration.

Lastly, if you are a smartphone user, there are a number of applications that help you plan a diet or research something. I have been using the Fooducate app, a free application for iPhones that lets you do a variety of tasks. For the purposes of this project, it lets you scan items in the grocery store for GMO labeling and processed food alerts, and it helps you plan meals, recipes, shopping lists and food diaries.

007I set mine to alert me when I scan an item with processed foods (we’ll see how well that works when I get to the store this weekend) — but you can target almost anything using this application or about a dozen similar ones.

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I know it might seem a little silly, to scan a grocery store item to see if it’s processed, when in general, you assume that you would know if it was processed or not. If something like this app will help you to stick to the plan (I think it will for me), then try a free app and see how it works.

Also, if you’ve been reading the news lately, there is a lot of noise about misleading labeling, particularly when it comes to GMO foods. The main goal of this sort of project is to make us more aware of what we eat, what we cook, where it comes from and what happens to it before it gets to us. I like having apps like this and doing projects like October Unprocessed, just because it makes me more aware of what I eat on a daily basis.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I prepare for October (I think a cleanout of my refrigerator and freezer is in order, post-haste) and get started on the challenge.

Wish me luck!

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