'October Unprocessed' challenges daily diet


"I wonder if I could actually go for a whole month without eating processed food?" said Andrew Wilder, who writes the food blog Eating Rules.

That's the question Wilder posed to himself four years ago, which led to the creation of October Unprocessed, a challenge he wants all of us to take.

"It's right before the holiday crunch and it's a really good time to sort of recalibrate everything," said Wilder.

He and a few friends began poring over food labels, discovering which products offer minimal extras and which are misleading: Like bread boasting 100 percent whole wheat. It's got that. But it's also got monocalcium phosphate, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide -- I can't even pronounce it," said Wilder.

Dietitian Ashley Koff says buying products without artificial colors and ingredients can be challenging.

Packaged foods do require processing. However, becoming more informed means making smarter choices.

"You can still eat things that if something has been done to them, if it's the same as what your body could do to them or you could do cooking," said Koff.

Koff started her own unprocessed quest a decade ago. She researched ingredients and where they come from. Her non-profit Ashley Koff Approved website features thousands of products that go through scrutiny.

"Don't put a chemistry lab project into your body. Put into your body food that the body recognizes," said Koff.

Wilder says going unprocessed has given him energy, so much so that he now goes without having to have a late-afternoon boost of caffeine.

Want to try it for yourself? So far 14,000 people have taken the "unprocessed" pledge.

If you're confused about October Unprocessed, Wilder shows you how you can take your products to see if they pass the "kitchen test."

"If a person of reasonable skill in a home kitchen could make it with whole-food ingredients, then it's unprocessed," said Wilder.

Scrutinize the ingredient list of your favorite foods. If the product contains unrecognizable items, most likely it won't pass muster.

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