Sunday, September 19, 2010

October: Unprocessed with Eating Rules

"The New Fred Meyer on Interstate on Lomb...Image via Wikipedia
I have been invited to write a guest blog for Eating Rules, as part of the October: Unprocessed challenge.  I am very excited to take the challenge, and honored that my old colleague (from a past life) Andrew Wilder asked me to write a post about food and sustainability for his blog.

The system of industrial food production in our society is unique in human history in both scale and methods, and there are many health and safety concerns to be addressed.  Eating Rules is a website about how to maintain a healthy diet while navigating this system by following a few simple, easy to apply rules.  The October: Unprocessed challenge is something that Andrew came up with to try and spur people into thinking more deeply about what they consume, where it came from, how it came to be on their table, and ultimately why all of that is important to us.  So, for the month of October, the wife and I will be attempting to eat only food that is "unprocessed."

fancy chocolate bar, crackedImage via Wikipedia
As you may have guessed, exactly what is meant by unprocessed is not totally clear, but the current working definition for the project is any food which has been (or contains ingredients which have been) prepared, altered, or processed in a way that could not be accomplished in an ordinary home kitchen.  So, for example,a product which is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup would be out, because you need a laboratory and some very precise instruments to turn corn into HFCS, but chocolate could be acceptable, because with a little practice you could make chocolate at home from whole ingredients ('making chocolate' is easy, forming it into bars and such can be difficult).  If that chocolate bar were sweetened with HFCS, on the other hand, it would be back on the black list.

Of course that definition itself contains some ambiguity, but I think the project embraces that ambiguity.  It seems to me the desired outcome is to have a dialogue, if you will, with what we eat, to ask of everything we consume: where did you come from and how were you made, to engage in a daily process of thinking about our food in a new way.

I would encourage everyone to take a look at the project, and seriously consider taking the pledge yourself.  If nothing else, it is an interesting way to look at the relationship between food and health.
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