It’s the last full week of October Unprocessed and I thought I’d pause a moment to review the month: what I’ve learned, what I’ve realized, and, inevitably, where I failed.
I started strong; I was psyched. I made my pledge at eating Rules and got to work. I even went shopping, “unprocessed” in mind, before October began. I quickly realized that my mindset had to change. Instead of thinking about “how much food I can get for my dollar” by using coupons and shopping store ads, I needed to think about, “how much nutritional value and subsequent meals I can get for my dollar.” In my neck of the woods, unprocessed foods aren’t the ones that are on sale. I used exactly one coupon this month–for some Driscoll’s berries. Despite my learning curve, Week One included a meal plan and tons of alacrity. I addressed the American decline in food preparation interest and skills, I found quicker ways to make an old favorite, and I even got fired up about a children’s eating contest held in my town. Unprocessed meant unstoppable!
Reality struck in Week Two. I was still eating unprocessed but finding that I wanted shortcuts. Tending a toddler was draining the unprocessed energy out of me, so I resorted to boxed snack crackers at times. I wasn’t baking the crackers I said I would, I didn’t have unprocessed foods ready for The Hubs to pack for work, and I felt overwhelmed by the challenge. But I buckled down.
Week Three had its failures (Uh, how do you get out of a fall festival without some street food going down the gullet?) but, for the most part, I was back on the baking train, no processed foods were purchased for home consumption, and the issue of GMO-laden (unprocessed!) foods were at the forefront of my mind. I was committed to continuing this fight for an unprocessed life past October 31st.
So, before I begin Week Four, and before I continue eating unprocessed, here are some things I have to admit to myself:
1)I ain’t Betty Crocker. I ain’t my grandmother (though I have thought of her often during this challenge!). And, shit, I ain’t even someone who likes baking. But if I do a bunch at once, it’s done for awhile and then I’m happy and not guilty of buying processed goods.
2)With a toddler, at least my toddler, all bets are off. Had plans to bake bread during naptime? Homeboy will surely sleep all of 30 minutes. Counted on getting up early to bake? He’ll beat ya to it. Thinking you’ll get a little cooking done while Baby Bear watches his beloved Trucks! video? Dude will adorably pull your hand until you follow him into the room and snuggle and watch the program together. Ultimately, I resigned from my job to stay at home with this little boy, so he gets #1 billing to the dough that’s rising on the countertop.
3)I don’t live in California. Or Oregon. Or Washington. I don’t have access to farmer’s markets outside of May-August. I don’t have soil that grows anything but more sand. My “local” CSA is an hour and one state-border-crossing away. And I need to accept that unprocessed might require a bit more work than I have energy to give. (I will note that this makes me very angry and is not an easy part of the realization to accept.)
4)Unprocessed all-the-time works only with like-minded folk. I can educate all I want, but if I show up to a get-together with my own unprocessed meal, for fear of eating something processed from my host, I’m just going to look like an ass. The body is resilient. If I treat it well MOST of the time, I will be okay eating the not-so-great stuff some of the time.
5)Shoot for unprocessed eating all of the time with room for “mistakes,” versus shooting for they type of eating you’re used to and hoping unprocessed happens along the way.
I hope to re-cap my month next week, when October has really ended. I’ll be listening to that high-school coach that may or may not still live inside of me: “FINISH STRONG!” I’m strappin’ on my cleats and diggin’ in for the last leg of this race. Bring it!
Have you been participating in October Unprocessed? How is it going?
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