By Sara Novak, Planet Green
It seems every other eco-foodie talks about skipping processed foods and replacing them with whole foods. But what does that really mean? How many processed foods do you really eat? Well, often times, we eat more processed junk than we would ever even realize.
I’m working from San Francisco this week so I can attend a Fall Ayurveda cleanse with one of my favorite yoga teachers Scott Blossom. One of the tenets of the cleanse is avoiding all processed foods. Once the cleanse is done, we can cautiously reintroduce them back into our diets. I thought this would be easy. I thought I ate little to no processed foods at all. And while for the most part, I don’t, I did still find some hidden culprits.
What Exactly Does Unprocessed Mean?
I really like Andrew Wilder’s definition over at Civil Eats. He says, “[u]nprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients.”
This is a fair definition. You’re not expected to process your own olive oil and wine, or churn your own butter. But on the other hand, condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise can be made at home quite easily.
Going Out to Eat Counts
Often times we may try and eat unprocessed foods when we’re at home, but when we’re eating out, that all goes out the window. Stick with places where the majority of the ingredients like breads, sauces, tortillas, veggie burgers, and soups are homemade. No mini ketchup packets or frozen chicken fingers allowed. These places are likely a bit pricier, so eat in most of the time and then treat yourself to a worthwhile meal out once in a while.
Donít Start the Day Processed
Many breakfast foods tend to be processed. That granola may be organic but it still took energy to be manufactured and then transported to you. Instead, make your own granola. The same goes for breakfast bars. If you’re going to eat them, make them yourself or choose homemade oatmeal or local eggs and homemade bread.
What About Dessert?
Dessert is another place that processed foods hide. My motto is that if you’re gonna splurge, make it yourself. Enjoy a good dessert once a week instead of snacking on processed cookies and candy each night.