Just one more week until I start the October Unprocessed Challenge and I am getting ready. Turns out, there’s a reason why they don’t call this “Walk in the Park October” or “Super Happy Fun Shopping Trip October.”
It’s a Challenge with a capital “C.”
I don’t know if you guys ever noticed this, but in America, we are pretty spoiled when it comes to food. We can find (and usually/ hopefully afford) most any type of food, yet the cheapest, most plentiful and most available type of food is processed and, in most cases, grossly unhealthy. We have now reached the point where The Challenge (and I am going to continue to capitalize that) is to find something NOT processed. It’s madness. And it’s seriously a challenge. It’s a challenge for me and I live in an urban area in southern California, where I can access a dozen weekly farmer’s markets, organic food co-ops, community gardens, and more. Yet even in a place that is the opposite of a food desert, still, food that is not as good for you is easier to obtain in every way.
This also requires a serious review of what it means for something to be considered “processed.” Technically, if I pick an apple from a tree and then take it into my kitchen and slice it up, I have just processed that apple. Right? However, this challenge isn’t quite so strict — it goes by “the kitchen test,” which means that any food that a competent person could make in their own home kitchen, with whole food ingredients, is considered unprocessed. Hey, I know people who make beer and cheese and tofu from scratch in THEIR kitchens, so that actually means I can eat a lot more stuff than I thought.
I really only have two teeny exceptions to The Challenge going into this. I have an addiction to caffeine and a job that requires me to be alert and working coherently on both computers and phones, so eliminating my daily Diet Coke would not be an option. Eventually I’d snap from caffeine withdrawal and lose my job. So, although the sweet elixir is processed, the first rule is I get to drink it anyway.
The second is for a couple of special occasions … a baby shower and a wedding are on my calendar for next month, and it’s no fun to sit back and watch everyone else munching on diaper-shaped cakes and sipping cocktails while you drink water and try to find something unprocessed. Those days will have to be exceptions, too.
The goal here — and I think Andrew at Eating Rules for saying this — is not perfection. Thank goodness. But eventually, you become more aware of what you eat on a daily basis.