We’d all like to consume less processed food: Fewer chips, more kale; less sugar, more honey.
But could you take on the challenge that Megan Kimble did in her book, Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food ($16)?
In it, she chronicles her efforts to go a year without eating processed foods. Challenges arise from the very first page, when she debates whether the peanut butter she is about to eat is considered verboten.
The year becomes an experiment in what she can make in her own kitchen. For instance, grinding up wheat berries for flour is in, but taking that flour and sifting out its endosperm and bleaching it into fluffy whiteness is out. She satisfied her peanut butter cravings first by trying to grind peanuts with a mortar and pestle, then more successfully with a food processor.
Follow Kimble’s journey as she mills wheat, extracts salt from the sea, tempers chocolate and slaughters a sheep. The book is made more compelling by the fact that the graduate student attempts to balance her project with a normal social life (think dating), all while earning about $18,000, an income that falls well below the federal poverty line.
She comes to the conclusion that, “I should figure out precisely what made a food processed….it would take me a year to figure out where to draw the line, to understand where our food system succeeds and fails in processing food from land.”
Below, three definitions from Kimble that will make you rethink your food and where you spend your food dollars.
Food additives: More than 10,000 chemicals are added to our foods today—most of which have not been approved by the FDA.
Ingredient labels: The seedy underbelly of food. Read it. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, it’s probably processed.
Multiplier effect: How spending locally creates local wealth. Independent, locally owned businesses recirculate a greater proportion of their revenue locally compared to national, corporate chains.