October’s Unprocessed Food Challenge

Tomorrow is October 1st and so begins unprocessed October.   I have signed up to participate this year on the spur of the moment.   We don’t eat a lot of processed food anyway but I am sure there is room for improvement.  If nothing else, it will remind me to read labels and think about each and every food decision.   

So what is unprocessed?   To quote Andrew Wilder, the founder of this movement,

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable
skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.
We call it “The Kitchen Test.” If you pick up something with a label (and if it doesn’t have a label, it’s probably unprocessed), and find an ingredient you’d never use in your kitchen and couldn’t possibly make yourself from the whole form, it’s processed.
It doesn’t mean you actually have to make it yourself, it just means that for it to be considered “unprocessed” that you could, in theory, do so.’

Considering I cook mostly from scratch and try to avoid GMO’s and preservatives I thought, “Piece of Cake!”

That was until I started reading some of the facebook posts and the “rules” on Food Rules.  All of a sudden, my cake was in danger!   Of course everyone has their own approach and define their own ‘rules’ but I think this might be more a challenge than I anticipated.

My goal is mainly to continue to eliminate additives and preservatives from our diet.

These are my main challenges:

  • Sugar:  I use cane sugar in my baking and  although pure cane sugar is non GMO it is refined and processed.  (Not sure how I am going to handle this)
  • Flour:  I use unbleached bread flour, white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour – I think these are going to be considered OK – I will have to do a little more reading on this.
  • Asian condiments:  Soy sauce is OK – but the black bean garlic sauce I have on hand does not nor does our beloved Sriracha hot chili sauce.  (Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Bisulfite are both preservatives found in Sriracha & many other asian condiments)

So why am I embarking on this adventure?  Mostly to bring awareness to my kids, grandkids and the community.

According to Forbes the typical American family spends 90% of their food budget on processed foods,  Given those numbers, the amount of additives and preservatives that they are ingesting is staggering.

Azodicarbonamide, BHA/BHT, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulfite, Sodium Nitrate / Nitrite, TBHQ.  The list goes on and on.  Notice the real names are so long that they have to be abbreviated!

foodchoicesjpgTo be honest, although I am seeing a growing awareness of the problem I am not seeing real change.  In fact the grocery stores around me are redesigning their aisles to feature more processed food.  I recently went into one of our local markets and was shocked when I walked in.  In the past, if you entered the door on the right and turned to the right, you would be entering the bread and tortillas section with the cheese etc just around the corner.

 After a quick redesign you now enter into this. 


Needless to say I was speechless.  So much for shopping the perimeter of the store!

Rather than just sit here and bellyache about the sad state of our food system, I thought I would join the crusade for a healthier future.  Until we prove to the retailers that we want and are prepared to pay for REAL food this trend will continue.

If you would like to join in, it isn’t too late.   Go to October Unprocessed and sign the pledge!

One thing is for sure, I am really glad I already know how to bake our own bread!

Bread #2 018


About Baking Nana

Each morning my granddaughter Sarah calls to ask, "Watcha doing, Nana? Are you baking Nana?" Hence my "name" Baking Nana. I am a mother to three wonderful children and a grandmother to 12 very hungry grandkids. I don't bake fancy cakes but I do make wonderful yeast bread and home cooked meals made with love.


October’s Unprocessed Food Challenge — 18 Comments

  1. Great job B’Nana! I am going o have to try this another month since I will be out of towns and eating in restaurants too much. Good thing is that Maui has alot more “pure” foods to draw from. See you on Maui!

  2. Hi, BN! Thanks for passing along such good information. I just signed up for The Challenge after seeing about it in your blog. I also signed up to follow you on line. I’ve been trying to do “from scratch” and “unprocessed” since I retired & have the time now, and am excited to see what new tips & recipes will come my way! Thanks again!

  3. I will definately be doing this. Unfair advantage. . .I HAVE been doing this for quite some time. I knew about the Siracha and have not found an alternative and do not have a Trader Joes in the neighborhood. Sad too because I loved using it in crackers. When I cook for myself (because my kids think I’m a radical kook) I think how easy it is, really. It doesn’t take long to fix my meals. I cook a pot of beans twice a week. Clean greens daily, sometimes I cook them, sometimes I eat them raw, sometimes I throw them in the beans. Good job, Baking Nana!

  4. Oh wow! I initially thought that sounded like a piece of cake because I make just about everything from scratch- until I kept reading and realized that would mean I’d have to go without sriracha…lol I don’t know that I could give that one up!

    • Nora – Trader Joes sells sriracha without the preservatives – I am sure that it is available elsewhere too. I think an email to the company might be in order.

  5. Good morning, hot nana. I think Trader Joe’s Sriracha will get your stamp of approval. I emailed info to you. Happy Unprocessed Month to all. Next step: Unprocessed Year!

  6. Hi Baking Nana,

    You are raising awareness of a very important topic. I like the idea of it. However, I’m afraid it is going to be very difficult to do because so many of the foods we buy at the store are processed, and the limited supply of organic foods are expensive (at least where I live.) I wish we had more Trader Joes around here. You surprised (and depressed) me with the Asian sauces. It makes it even harder.

    However, while on vacation in the Colorado rockies, the grocery store there had 2 aisles full of every type of yogurt imaginable. However, back home in Texas, there is one little sliver of shelf space for yogurt and lots of shelf space for sour cream. What can we learn from that? CONSUMERS BUYING HABITS drive what is on the shelves. It will take consumers to demand the change. The reality is most consumers demand convenient, cheap, tasty food and the processed foods provide that.

    It takes awareness, education and time to change. We may not be able to change the buying habits today, but with continuing awareness of the issue maybe in the future some dramatic changes can be made.

  7. Baking Nana, all we can do is to try. Big Food is relentless in achieving its goal of separating us from our money, nutrition and good sense! Though my grocery list is far healthier than it once was, there are a few things I will continue to purchase. After all, 95% is still an “A”, lol!

  8. This is not a good month for me to try this. I agree with your venture, however! I think it will be interesting when you go to eat out. It’s interesting when I log on to “Just 4 U” on Vons’ new computerized coupon site. There are very few things of 8 pages of products that I can add to my “list” of things to buy! Most of them are already-prepared foods or juices or whatevers. Even the health/personal products are things I would never buy. Good luck! I’ll be following your progress throughout the month.

    • I have been think a LOT about eating out Marianne. I hate to be a “PITA” asking too many questions and that makes others at the table uncomfortable. We will see how it goes. As for those “coupons” I wholeheartedly agree – Ralphs sends me coupons in the mail for the stuff I actually purchase but those online ones are all geared to processed food. Same for the Sunday paper coupons. I hope I can “sell” this to the rest of the family!

  9. I’m so glad this challenge is going on! I have really made a concentrated effort to break down the ‘processed’ food war in my household. I don’t mind the occasional sweet, like a good dark chocolate. It’s the PROCESSED stuff I have a problem with: granola bars, soda, fruit snacks, luncheon meat, white bread, cream of yuck soups, etc. If you have any tips or tricks in cutting those out completely, out side of locking up my husbands credit cards so he can’t buy that stuff I’m all ears!!!!

    • Hi Jen – I don’t let No Baking Papa shop! He is like a kid in a candy store – WAIT – he is the kid in the candy store. Change his pin # and don’t tell him!

  10. This is such an awesome adventure you have joined. This is something I would be very interested in doing also. I am certain I could run into a few obstacles along the way which will become a great learning experiment. I am certain this month is out since we will finally be able to enjoy a vacation this month and it will be nearly impossible to avoid processed foods in our travels but I am already planning the best way to eat as healthy as possible while away. I will definitely be looking into this further in the near future and be studying my labels a little more in depth. Thanks for another great blog Nana!

    • Thanks for stopping in Kelly – I too am going on vacation for a week in October – I figured that I will do the best I can while eating out, I need to learn better strategies for that anyway – there is no time like the present! We will be doing a lot of our own cooking and buying local where we can, I will be blogging about that adventure when the time comes.

  11. This is such an important topic BN. Many of my clients have no idea how much processed food they eat, even when they cook at home. It’s important to raise awareness of the chemicals in our food. I, like you, don’t eat a lot of processed or packaged foods, but those “processes” can sneak up on you even if you think you’re eating well.

    • Thanks for stopping in Jan. I find it so disturbing, I can’t believe that all those preservatives and chemicals don’t add to a time bomb, slowly eroding our health and that of our children.
      Good news though! I found Kikkoman Black Bean Garlic Sauce with no preservatives! Hot and Sour Soup can still be on the menu!