Unprocessed is a motivating, readable, and best of all, well-researched book on eating well and responsibly.
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I had to be talked down from buying a wheat miller for my kitchen after reading chapter 2, Wheat. Don’t be freaked out if that sounds way above your commitment level. While Megan Kimble certainly goes above and beyond by doing things like milling her own wheat for her year of unprocessed foods, she also reflects on what ideas actually stuck after the fact. In her case, she now buys bread from trusted brands.
The biggest change to my own life is making all of my bread by hand using yeast. It’s a) delicious and b) a combination of fun and relaxing. It takes a long time in the same way laundry does; sure you’re technically making bread for several hours, but you don’t have to actively do anything for two hours so you have free time to spend around the house.
Credible & Readable
The book is well researched, with a plethora of sources listed in the back of the book. That doesn’t even include the direct references Kimble makes during the text. The sources in the book made Kimble significantly more credible than similar books and documentaries that try to address the amount of additives in food.
The memoir aspect of the book also made it a pleasure to read. This isn’t a shoddy self help or a dry how-to guide. Kimble’s writing is passionate and curious. Unprocessed is a nonfiction story with very applicable information and research. That said, each chapter ends with a handy Unprocessed Yourself page. The author uses these to give a few direct suggestions to reduce the amount your own food is processed.
“Check savoury foods … to make sure they don’t have added sugars,” Kimble recommends in Unprocessed, “Buy plain or unflavoured foods and add the sweetness in yourself. You will, I promise, add less than what would have been added for you (and skip a bunch of other artificial ingredients),” in Unprocessed Yourself: Sugar (p. 88).
The social responsibility of the book centres upon ecology and human health, but Megan Kimble earns major bonus points for thoroughly considering the affects (un)processing has on women’s rights, the role the government plays in our food, as well as how this all plays into poverty.
“Our nostalgia for the foods we used to eat often fails to take into account the work required to make those foods — and who’s going to do it,” (p. 215).
Kimble acknowledges that despite the fact she is well below the US national poverty level, she benefits from friends and family in ways that many poverty-stricken families are not. The entire last chapter of Unprocessed, appropriately titled Hunger, is dedicated to exploring the relationships between poverty, food, and health.
Five Stars for an engaging, thought provoking book that I would recommend to anyone curious about the impact of their food.
Kudos to Kimble for motivating individuals to make changes in their own lives at their own pace, and for motivating me to seek more knowledge about sustainable and responsible food.
Megan Kimble was a twenty-six-year-old living in a small apartment without even a garden plot to her name. But she cared about where food came from, how it was made, and what it did to her body: so she decided to go an entire year without eating processed foods. Unprocessed is the narrative of Megan’s extraordinary year, in which she milled wheat, extracted salt from the sea, milked a goat, slaughtered a sheep, and more–all while earning an income that fell well below the federal poverty line.
What makes a food processed? As Megan would soon realize, the answer to that question went far beyond cutting out snacks and sodas, and became a fascinating journey through America’s food system, past and present. She learned how wheat became white; how fresh produce was globalized and animals industrialized. But she also discovered that in daily life, as she attempted to balance her project with a normal social life–which included dating–the question of what made a food processed was inextricably tied to gender and economy, politics and money, work and play.
Backed by extensive research and wide-ranging interviews–and including tips on how to ditch processed food and transition to a real-food lifestyle–Unprocessed offers provocative insights not only on the process of food, but also the processes that shape our habits, communities, and day-to-day lives.