Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food
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In the tradition of Michael Pollan’s bestselling In Defense of Food comes this remarkable chronicle, from a founding editor of Edible Baja Arizona, of a young woman’s year-long journey of eating only whole, unprocessed foods—intertwined with a journalistic exploration of what “unprocessed” really means, why it matters, and how to afford it.
In January of 2012, 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.
with the exception of organic cattle, sick cattle get treated with drugs. According to the USDA, 80 percent of all the antibiotics sold in the United States are consumed by chickens, pigs, cows, and other food-producing animals. Because meat and poultry producers aren’t required to disclose what they do with the drugs once they purchase them, it’s tricky to prove that routine antibiotic use in animals causes antibiotic-resistant infections in the people who eat those animals. There is enough
“Who Will Control the Green Economy?” (November 2011). 46 The decline of small mills—USDA Economic Research Service, “Economic Analysis of the Changing Structure of the U.S. Flour Milling Industry” (2001). 50 Price documented teeth—Weston Price, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (New York: Paul B. Hoeber, 1939). “All grains contain phytic acid”—Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (Washington, D.C.:
193 I found an article online—Gary Miller, “A Cheap and Easy Homemade Wine Recipe,” Mother Earth News (September/October, 1970). A few weeks before, we’d both—Sandor Ellix Katz, Fermentation Workshop, October 23, 2012. 194 Sulfites are any sulfur-based—McGee, On Food and Cooking. more than seventy other additives—Code of Federal Regulations, Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms, “Materials Authorized for the Treatment of Wine and Juice.” These additives might include
the cement highway. “I loved seeing the White Sonora wheat growing at Native Seeds/SEARCH.” It had been why I signed up for this excursion in the first place—to learn more about this heritage breed of wheat growing in the desert for the first time in half a century. The Native Seeds/SEARCH farm is the heart of a seed-saving nonprofit based in Tucson. The farm cultivates native crops of the desert Southwest and northern parts of Mexico and saves these desert-adapted seeds to sell and distribute
coordinator for the University of Arizona’s Office of Sustainability, but have yet to receive my first paycheck. With January’s rent out the door, my unprocessed grocery tab had been accumulating on my credit card. I knew I’d have enough money soon, but knowing is more stressful than having, and so I am grateful for the help. Twenty minutes later, when I hang up the phone, water continues to cling in the berries’ crevices. I remember farmer Kyle telling me that one of the biggest costs of