October is unprocessed month. A group of bloggers, headed up by Andrew Wilder at Eating Rules, are eating only unprocessed foods for the month of October. I’m late to the party… well, really, I’m not attending this party, but I wanted to share it because I think it’s a very cool idea. I particularly like his definition of “unprocessed”:
Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients.
You don’t necessarily have to make them yourself, at home – but you should only eat things that you could theoretically have made. Beer is okay: plenty of people brew beer at home, even if you don’t. Same with cheese, some varieties of which you can make at home without any special equipment. But chocolate is only okay if it doesn’t have additives, and cookies could be okay, if you used whole grain flour (which could be milled at home) and a natural sweetener (unlike sugar, which requires too much processing). Anything with corn syrup is right out.
Isn’t that cool? The rules are somewhat arbitrary (and certainly open to bending), but the whole project is an exercise in consciousness, a new awareness about what goes into the foods we eat, even things we cook ourselves. There’s an incredible amount of processed foods, chemicals and preservatives in almost everything you buy at the store. If you’re buying something with an ingredient list, odds are that list contains at least one processed ingredient, something that could only be made in a lab or a factory. Reading labels is a scary, dangerous business!
While I won’t be going unprocessed for the whole month, I’d love to participate in a small way, by making some things from scratch that I wouldn’t normally. Perhaps I’ll make cheese, which I haven’t done in a long time. I will almost certainly make homemade peanut butter cups for Halloween, and will share the recipe. I’ve never made peanut butter by hand, but this would be a good excuse to try. And I’d love to experiment with different sweeteners – at the link above, there’s a great discussion of how sugar, agave, honey, and other sweeteners are processed.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to try making from scratch? Consider this a good excuse to try it.
Or, is there something you’d like to see me make from scratch, and tell you about?