Are You Ready to Give Up Processed Foods?

October-Unprocessed-logoI bet I can guess one of your top goals: To eat more whole foods and fewer processed foods. I know this because when we asked our NOURISH Evolution community to take our State of the Kitchen survey, 72% of you said that’s what being nourished means to you. (We’ll reveal all our findings in a future post!)

If you agree, join the October Unprocessed 2013 campaign going on now at Eating Rules. You can also check out my “secret” must-have ingredient for healthy whole-grain baking.

Now in its fourth year, October Unprocessed was created by blogger Andrew Wilder to help people make the transition from processed foods to real food. “This is an exercise in awareness,” Andrew says. In other words, just by taking the pledge you start paying more attention to the food you eat. You decide what “unprocessed” means to you — though Andrew has some really helpful guidelines — and you can try it for a day, a week, the rest of the month or the rest of your life. And when you sign the pledge you can score some great coupons from October Unprocessed’s sponsor, Bob’s Red Mill.

Process Your Food Personally

In a day when so much of our food is delivered to us pre-cut, pre-made, pre-cooked, I would argue that we’re neglecting ourselves. A meal can be a full-on amusement park of an experience if we let it be, especially when you process your food by hand.

process-food-personallyThink of a finished dish as a dot. Now picture each interaction we have with the ingredients as concentric circles surrounding that dot. Pounding a curry paste in a mortar and pestle, for instance, is a complex undertaking that would add several rings around the dot of “vegetable curry.” Lose the mortar and pestle and blam the ingredients in a food processor and you erase a few rings, like the satisfying soreness that sets in as you pound and pound and pound wondering “is this ever going to work?” and that epiphany moment when individual ingredients yield and it really does. Buying prepared curry paste deletes even more rings—like the conversation with the person at the market about chiles and where to find lemongrass stalks—until all you’re left with is a shell of “eating” around “vegetable curry.”

I’m not saying don’t ever buy another jar of curry paste—I know I’ll continue to do so in the future. I’m simply suggesting that how involved we get with preparing our food really does make a difference. It’s a wonderfully satisfying mindful eating practice.

So here’s my challenge: Pick a night (or day) when you’ve got some time, choose something you wouldn’t normally make from scratch – salsa, curry paste, vinaigrette, you name it – and make a homemade version. Then notice the difference–not just in how it tastes, but in how you feel throughout it the whole process.