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.
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About the Author
Megan Kimble is a food writer living in Tucson, Arizona, where she works as the managing editor of Edible Baja Arizona, a local-foods magazine serving Tucson and the borderlands. She is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and serves on the leadership council of the Pima County Food Alliance. She earned her MFA from the University of Arizona and works with the university's Southwest Center to promote food access and justice.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Change is a process 1
1 Supermarket: Processed sells 15
2 Wheat: Grain is unprocessed if it is whole 29
3 Sweet: Sugar is processed if it is made 62
4 Produce: A million melons are processed 90
5 Salt: Manipulated food is processed 122
6 Stuff: Obsolescence is processed 136
7 Out: Try your best 160
8 Drink: Unprocessed alcohol takes time 179
9 Refrigeration: Good work is unprocessed 204
10 Dairy: Milk is a process of scale 229
11 Meat: Meal is processed. Some meat is processed 261
12 Hunger: People unprocess 294
Epilogue: Receipts accumulate 316
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I don't think I have ever read a memoir quite like Megan Kimble's. In fact the only time I will really read a memoir is if the author is someone I really want to know more about. However, her year long challenge to see if she could go without eating anything that is processed, was something I was truly interested in, especially after watching, Super Size Me, and watching how processed fast food impacts the body. I was more than pleasantly surprised after sitting down and reading this from cover to cover in one sitting and asking myself if I could do the same thing Megan did. My outcome, probably not, but I loved living vicariously through her while she did so on a very meager budget I might add. When you think about it, most of the food we eat outside of fruits and vegetables are mostly processed in order to preserve shelf life and to last longer than it would without all those additives we seriously never considered what they do and if they are good for our bodies. I mean, they wouldn't be able to sell the stuff on the supermarket shelves if they did right? You might be just as surprised as I was after reading this. As Megan experiences things such as learning how to make bread, the old fashioned way, and what is the right grains to use, yes, she becomes a younger version of Martha Stewart and buys a grinder. She learns what it means by "rule of thumb" and how through trial and error manages to pull of home made bread that calls to her after she finishes baking it in the over. She shares with us all that even those tried and true places we believe may in fact be healthy like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, might in fact not be as innocent and healthy as we thought. She takes you on a journey not only how things are made, but at the conclusion of each chapter, she shares her secrets on how to make things like sea salt, bread, chocolate, how to can tomatoes, how to make your own almond milk, and so much more. For someone like me, this book is chalk full of great facts like knowing for example that 90% of our sodium intake is from processed food and only 10% is added by us in our daily diet. What the difference is between all those brands of sugars, raw and natural as well as artificial sweeteners, along with the differences between all those milk products we find, which is truly the best for our body and why we are often lactose intolerant. You might be more than surprised. I applaud her efforts to pulling this off and I learned quite a bit about reading my labels more accurately and supporting local farmer's markets to sell strictly organic, pesticide and antibiotic free produce and meat. We may not be able to change how supermarkets sell produce but we can decide how to spend the money we earn in a better way to support small co-ops and organic farmers and dairies. I received Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review aside from a free copy of the book, and the opinions expressed are strictly my own personal. For this reader, I may decide to take up canning if done properly to ensure I have some great produce available when it is out of season, and now found some new uses for my food processor. Overall, well written, informative, and engaging to keep me interested in finishing this in one sitting, thus a 5 out of 5 star rating in this reader's