It isn't an easy move to make. For Megan Kimble
, it took three tries to do it right. So much of what we eat contains chemicals or is refined using a chemical process. How did Kimble define unprocessed? Well, she decided that if she could make it in her own kitchen she could consider it unprocessed. For example, she says, "I could grind wheat berries into flour, but, short of storming a chemistry lab, I couldn’t separate the wheat germ and bran from the endosperm. So no refined flour." That's the how, but why would she do it?
She explains, "by eating unprocessed, I hoped to situate my sustenance just a little closer to home, to keep my food dollars in my own community, where I hoped they might be visible, scalable, and accountable. And, of course, there was my health. Many of us know that we’re not eating as well as we could be—but it’s a confusing world out there, one where every new nutrition study seems to contradict the previous one. But the lesson to take from many of these studies is that whole food is better than fiddled-with food. And eating unprocessed food was an easy way to conceptualize eating healthier—it required only that I eat foods that were integral and intact."
Kimble says that after a while, eating this way became like second nature. She says it became easy because her 'real' food just tasted better. When the year was up, she tried to go back to store bought cookies and diet soda but found they tasted like chemicals and upset her stomach. By eating unprocessed food, Kimble says, "I felt stronger in mind and body. And mostly, I felt full. When I focused on unprocessed food I rarely felt hungry. After a food passed the “is it processed?” test, I let myself eat however much filled me up. I learned how to listen to my stomach. I ate a lot
of delicious food, and I didn’t gain any weight. I thought about food a lot, but also, I thought about it way less—it became so much less fraught, so much more fun." Think of the freedom that can come when you know
your food is clean!
I'm inspired but if you don't know where to start, Kimble has some tips. She says you don't have to start with a full year, do a day or a week. She recommends reading the labels of everything that goes into your shopping cart and trying to buy things that have only one ingredient. You can mix these foods at home to turn them into something else. Buy milk, oats and honey and turn them into oatmeal yourself instead of buying the instant package, she suggests. Look for a community agriculture program. You can often find a buy in that will give you access to local, organic produce. Buy as locally as possible. Cook your own food. You don't have to go big, but you do have to try.
Are you ready to make the switch from processed to homemade?