What piqued our interest in the September selection, Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food*+ by Megan Kimble, was the challenge posed by the author of determining “what ‘unprocessed’ really means”. We know there continues to be a segment of the population who seeks to improve their diets by eliminating processed foods, and we found it intriguing that the author was able to do so while living within city limits (we hear that it’s difficult to do without a garden). We hope to learn from this selection how individuals pursuing these diets defined “processed” and what motivates them to pursue these diets.
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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Here’s what you need to do this month:
Get the book. Buy it, borrow it, download and listen to it, read it over your neighbor’s shoulder — we don’t care. But don’t steal the book.
Read the book.
- Week 1: Intro and chapters 1-3 [pages 1-89] (Twitter chat on 9/7)
- Week 2: Chapters 4-7 [pages 90-178] (Twitter chat on 9/14)
- Week 3: Chapters 8-10 [pages 179-260] (Twitter chat on 9/21)
- Week 4: Chapters 11-12 and epilogue [pages 261-326] (Twitter chat on 9/28)
Join the chat (#AgBookClub) on Wednesdays at 8:00pm Central on Twitter. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat here. While we hope you can participate in our discussion every week, we know that everyone has busy schedules. We always include general questions following the topic(s) of the book that can be answered by anyone, so please don’t hesitate to jump in the Twitter chat if you didn’t have a chance to read the section we’re discussing. We welcome any and all to join the discussion!