October Unprocessed – The First Weekend

My first weekend avoiding both processed food and genetically modified ingredients turned out to be a little more difficult than I anticipated. Avoiding one or the other wouldn’t have been so hard, but both at once proved challenging.

I bought some food for the weekend and thought that I could eat some of the food I already have at home. After all, my hypothesis with this challenge is that it can be done with minimal changes to the average middle-class American suburban lifestyle.

I hope to find out that it won’t cost more than my regular budget. Also, I’d prefer to shop at regular grocery stores.

The First Obstacle – Family

It sounds terrible calling my family an obstacle, but I’m pretty much doing this on my own. They eat what I cook, but they also want to eat out and they have their favorite brands for home.

I suspect this is something that affects a lot of families. If only one spouse wants to eat healthier or more local or non-GMO or whatever, then it’s difficult. After all, we made a vow and we’re a pair. Anything that one does affects the other.

So, when they wanted fast food on Saturday, I was outvoted. I was going to pick up a salad for myself and skip the salad dressing, but it turned out the particular fast food place we stopped by didn’t offer salads or anything that looked less-processed.

Dinners at Home

I skipped the fast food, but brought it home for my family. Fast food is so filling that we didn’t really have a dinner, just a bowl of pasta with spaghetti sauce.

Because I skipped cooking a meal, I needed to cook all the meat on Sunday so that it wouldn’t go bad. I fried up all the chicken and put the leftovers in the fridge for Monday. I served broccoli and cheese as a side and made mushroom gravy from the fond in the pan. Dinner on Monday will be a snap.

The Second Obstacle – Snacks

Sunday was a game day and what’s better than chips and salsa in front of the TV? Well, I didn’t plan well enough. The salsa is made by a local company and the ingredients are ordinary vegetables, but the chips I usually serve are Tostitos.

Frito-Lay is making a big push towards “natural”. They’ve reduced the number of ingredients in their chips as a result of this marketing effort. The tortilla chips contain corn, vegetable oil, and salt. They meet the kitchen test for October Unprocessed.

However, keeping it non-GMO threw a wrench in the works. The corn isn’t organic, so it’s probably genetically engineered – 93% of the corn grown in the U.S. is. The vegetable oil is “corn, soybean, canola and/or sunflower oil”. Three of those are likely GM.

What about microwave popcorn? There is no genetically engineered popcorn on the market. I picked up the box and it contains TBHQ as one of the ingredients. Do I even need to look that up to see if it’s processed?

I looked it up. It’s tertiary butylhydroquinone, an anti-oxidant that keeps vegetable oils from turning rancid, among other uses. It’s not the sort of thing the average person might have around the kitchen.

I skipped the snacks this time, but next weekend I’ll be better prepared.

Image by ebruli, used with Creative Commons license.

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