What I’m reading: Unprocessed
It’s so nice to get back into the swing of reading. I just finished reading Unprocessed by Megan Kimble and found it utterly inspiring. The book is half-memoir, half fact-finding mission, which made it a very compelling read.
The book is divided into twelve chapters, each covering a specific type of food or food process – meat, dairy, wheat, refrigeration, eating out and so on. Each chapter is chock full of eye opening insights and information, that surprised even a food and nutrition junkie like me. What I loved most about this book were the insights that Megan peppered throughout the book about how eating in an unprocessed way was making her feel, physically and emotionally. She acknowledges the emotional ties we have to food and how difficult it can be to dramatically change eating habits. Her honesty is refreshing.
In that regard, Unprocessed is a big departure from the food and nutrition books I usually read, that are science based and a full of short case studies. A breath of fresh air actually, to look at nutrition and food in a different way.
As I began reading this book, I happened upon an article on ‘processed food’ by Jay Rayner, that ended up being a bit of a straw man. I had this cynicism about ‘processed food’ in my mind when I started Unprocessed. Happily, Megan sets out what she means by ‘processed’ on page 2, stating, “today, the work ‘processed’ refers to the adulterated foods – foods that have been shifted and shaped into packages that are not better, not for us or for the earth. All foods are processed, but if we understand the difference between an apple and a bag of Chex Mix – and we do – and if the space between the two matters for the health of our bodies and the environment – and it does – then the question of what makes a food too processed also matters.” An open, honest and optimistic definition.
It’s interesting where Megan lands, at the end of her year long unprocessed journey. It’s a similar place that many people who do food challenges or strict eating patterns, such as vegan or paleo, get to after a while. She starts from a strict unprocessed ‘dogma’, where she had been trying to unprocess everything, including making her own sea salt (!) and butchering her own meat. At the end of her year, she ends up in a more moderate place, concluding after her many food experiments, including grinding her own flour (!), that the best approach is that one that is tailored to you and your lifestyle, “the messy middle”, as she puts it. This balanced approach acknowledges eating as much whole, unprocessed food as possible, with the reality of eating out, social relationships and the fact that life happens and unless you have life threatening allergies, you need to just make the most of whatever situation you happen to be.
Such a great read and I can’t wait see what she does next!