Could You Go 100% Unprocessed?

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.

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Perla Serrano Matesanz
Laszlo Kovacs5 years ago

I have no problem being without processed food... I avoid it consciously.

Jeni G.
Jennifer G5 years ago

I'll be giving it a try for 2013, but I have to admit, I'm already not having a good feeling about it. The picture of the doughnuts at the beginning of this article practically made me drool :)

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you :)

Winn Adams
Winn Adams5 years ago

Probably not.

Heather M
Heather Marvin5 years ago

A lot more to it than I realised.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago


Helen Krummenacker

Thanks to a garlic allergy, I eat a lot less processed foods.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Lynn D.
Lynn D5 years ago

We'd be a lot healthier without all the crap that's put into almost everything we eat! Thanks for article and will have to take more care in our choices of food!