Published on November 1st, 2012 | by Heather Carr4
October Unprocessed – Some Final Thoughts
October Unprocessed came to a close yesterday on what is probably the day when the most processed food gets passed around – Halloween. While I managed not to succumb to the temptation of all that candy, it wasn’t easy. But what about the rest of the month?
I made it through the month without intentionally eating processed foods (more on that in a minute). It took some searching for some things, but what really helped is that I participated in October Unprocessed last year, so some of the groundwork had already been laid.
Since October Unprocessed last year, I had gone back to eating many of my favorite processed foods. However, I had also switched out many brands that I had previously eaten for other brands without processed ingredients, or quit eating them all together.
The main appeal of processed foods for me is that they can sit in my pantry of fridge for a while without spoiling. I can plan a week’s worth of meals and go shopping once a week and the food will still be good when I’m ready to use it. Once I started really looking at the ingredients in processed foods, it turns out that most of those chemicals and processes are not increasing the shelf life. They smooth the final product, or color it, or keep it emulsified.
- Milk homogenization is all about looks. Milk that has not been homogenized tastes the same.
- Natural flavors are there to add flavor back into the product, but there are brands that don’t use natural flavors that taste just as good.
- Some things, like nitrites, are added to increase shelf life. Still, there are even some brands of processed meats that don’t contain them and the meat didn’t go bad in my fridge.
Reading the labels and knowing what the ingredients are takes a little time at first, but by the end of the month, I could go shopping and quickly find what I needed. Most importantly, my grocery bill did not increase and I did not have to change my eating habits.
Just a Few Processed Ingredients
I said up above that I didn’t intentionally eat any processed ingredients. I was concentrating on meals and snacks and I feel I did a good job there.
I give partial credit for my willpower to my husband. He’s a bit of a joker, you see. When he found out I was doing October Unprocessed again, he ran to the store and bought two giant bags of candy. Not just big, but giant – like two gallons apiece. The bags had a mix of candy, most of them my favorites. They sat on my kitchen counter all month.
This just increased my resolve. He teased me about it frequently. No way was I going to let that candy beat me.
Only two foods tripped me up. One was yeast. I made all my family’s bread this month. Biscuits, cornbread, and tortillas don’t need yeast, but white bread is so tasty fresh from the oven, so I baked quite a bit of it. I didn’t even read the ingredients on the yeast jar. I just assumed it was a single ingredient.
It wasn’t until last week that I noticed yeast has sorbitan monostearate as an ingredient. Sorbitan monostearate is a synthetic wax – definitely not something that can pass the Kitchen Test. It’s probably in there to keep the yeast from growing in the jar. Once this jar of yeast is used up, I’ll need to search for another brand with only yeast as an ingredient.
My other slip-up were breath mints. I mindlessly eat Altoids when I’m on my way out somewhere. They contain artificial flavor, natural flavor, and red 40. I’m not sure I’m ready to give up Altoids. I love their coolness in my mouth and I love that little tin they come in. The tin is useful for storing small things, like stray washers or buttons. I’ll keep my eyes open for something unprocessed to replace them.
Overall, I think I did okay with October Unprocessed. I learned a lot, just like last year. I think I still have a lot to learn.
How do you feel you did in October Unprocessed? Were there any big stumbling blocks for you?
Rainbow of cut vegetables photo via Shutterstock
Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!