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Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,276 ratings  ·  138 reviews
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
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 23rd 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Joyce G. Guenther I can't find it either, but has a 'which food additives are safe?' article. This is from the journal she cites with the Chemical Cuisine a…moreI can't find it either, but has a 'which food additives are safe?' article. This is from the journal she cites with the Chemical Cuisine app . The magazine is Nutrition Action from Center for Science in the Public Interest (cspi)(less)

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Jul 18, 2015 marked it as abandoned
Earnest 20-something author seeks to transform self, world. Jaded 30-something reader encounters phrase "prideful peas," lurches on for a few more pages, can't. ...more
Feisty Harriet
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-industry
I literally could not put this book down and finished it in under 24 hours. The whole premise is that Megan decides to spend a year not eating processed foods, or, mostly not eating processed foods, and/or eating mostly not processed foods.* Her rules are a little loosey-goosey at first, although as she learns more about food processing--from vegetables to milk to meat--she firms them up quite nicely. I love that she lives in the arid Southwest--Tucson, just south of me--because I felt like I co ...more
Somewhat interesting read if you can get past her attitude. She was a white, privileged, grad student of 26 when she wrote this, and it shows. The book professes to be about her learning experience, and there are spots where I feel she was being honest and fair in her assessments of how the food world works, but there were an awful lot of "how can people think this way?" moments where her extreme liberal bias is glaringly obvious. Her date with a "climate denier" is the most obvious example. (Sh ...more
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to reading this book and gleaming tons of great information about unprocessed foods. For a while now, I have been wanting to move away from processed foods, even though they are quick for meals. I have slowly been making the move. However not to really take anything away from the author but I found this book to be really wordy. I got to chapter 4 and put the book down. I realized when I got ready to pick it up again that I could not process what I had read in the first 4 ch ...more
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I currently have my first loaf of homemade bread in the oven, made with locally grown and milled flour. That is probably the biggest indicator of how much I took from this book.
Madeleine (Top Shelf Text)
This book took me almost three full months to read (something about reading on my Kindle slows me down!) but it prompted a lot of thought and reflection. The book chronicles Kimble's yearlong experiment in eating wholly unprocessed foods. For each chapter, Kimble explains the impact of eating unprocessed for one food group (for example, meat, dairy, etc.). I found reading Kimble's personal take to be pretty entertaining and enjoyable -- for example, when Kimble found giving up chocolate unthinka ...more
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-loan
Premise sounded interesting. Execution was disappointing. I recommend reading one of Michael Pollan's books instead. ...more
Dec 05, 2018 added it
This book will make your life better.

I should mention that I am the last person to be caught dead carrying around a book with a title like Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food. I have some deep snobberies and this is one of them--whenever people talk about science-supported supplements and what we should or should not be eating because of this or that cancer-causing additive, I get REALLY SUPER IRRATIONALLY annoyed. Because purity in food has never existed, and we're all im
Thomasin Propson
What I learned: whole wheat flour is Humpty Dumpty flour! The mills usually break part the different parts and then, for the 'whole' order, they add this much of this back in and that much of that back in to make "whole wheat". It's kinda like hamburger!! ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was better than I thought it might be and worth the wait. I love requesting new materials at my library and then seeing a waitlist growing. I hope the next readers will get as much out of this one as I did.

Who is this book good for? Definitely fans of the "I did this thing for a year" genre. Yes, I'm a fan. 😊 But also, I think this would be a good introduction for someone new to unprocessing their food. While a lot of the info Megan shares wasn't new to me and likely wouldn't be a surprise
Elizabeth  Leonard
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about Unprocessed by Megan Kimble. This book had been on my to-read list for a long time and I was so excited to finally receive a copy.

Part memoir, part business psychology, part sociology, part food history, part food revolution, this book is like having pieces of a bunch of college classes taught to you by a really fun, really young professor.

I love the premise of her experiment and I loved reading about her experience, however, I walked away feeling like she really wa
Olivia Ragheb
Apr 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
this book reads like a news report mixed with a coming of age story - a funny mix but it worked! I loved the writing, something about the tone just made me feel like if the author and I ever met in person we’d be good friends. I learned a TON and felt like i was on this journey with the author. I certainly feel like i will take the information i learned about our food system with me moving forward.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite kind of book. Love the 'my year of doing xyz' genre. Kimble explores what it means to eat unprocessed while unpacking the policy and politics behind our food. ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wanted to really like this book, and while I did enjoy reading it, it just missed so much.

First impressions was that it could have benefited from better editing, not in a grammatical sense but in where to put different elements of the story. Like many similar type books it goes back and forth between current event storytelling and informative statistics and history. The problem I had was that these transitions were not always smooth - we're talking about cooking right now, now we're talking ab
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

This is one of the purest books of our modern age, advocating a lifestyle based not only on physical health and individual economic strength, but also on growing and healing community and culture on micro, and subsequently macro, levels. Megan is so articulate and so moving in her recollection of her experience and really demonstrates how you don't have to be super-rich or super-bored to eat on your own terms. I've learned so much and have made so many changes!!
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
As I've confessed before, I'm a sucker for those memoirs in which an author decides to do (or not do) something for an entire year and write about their experiences. Since I don't study the lives of other people by peeping into their windows (as that is illegal, not to mention creepy), these books satisfy my small, voyeuristic tendencies.
With all of my reading, I have found the two drawbacks to these type of books are that they can be a-) poorly written and/or b-) swimming in self-righteousness.
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Unprocessed was different from what I expected. I thought I would be reading a book that was more like Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and learn about what it takes on a daily basis to move from eating processed to unprocessed food. How exactly did she do that? What did it take? What are the steps? Yet, in the end I learned a tremendous amount about our food supply, what actually makes a food unprocessed and came to respect her research and detail-driven narrative. I also enjoyed ...more
Alison Whiteman
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Author Megan Kimble does a remarkable job of not lecturing the reader about what to eat. The "foodie" movement can make one cringe. Instead, she presents facts which then allow one to examine issues regarding processed or unprocessed foods.

Admittedly I read this book and have been reading books due to a recent diagnosis of a slew of food allergies. My sister-in-law was instrumental in suggesting I might actually be intolerant of the foods rather than allergic. My physician said, "Well, your imm
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
While a good starting point for anyone interested in the food systems in North America it was a little bit dull if this is not the first book you've read on the topic. One thing that bothered me a bit is the approach she took - how little knowledge the author started out with. I'd hardly call the whole year unprocessed when she waits to learn about the basics of milk, wheat, meat and sugar production until 1, 3 or 6 months into the year. Just assuming things are unprocessed because it's convenie ...more
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Megan Kimble’s memoir tells about the year she decided to eat only unprocessed food. “Unprocessed” seemed to be convenient at times, such as when she learned that inexpensive wines can have up to 70 additives in them, but kept drinking them. Her overall conclusion is to think about things and do the best you can. Seemed like a lot of reading to get to that point, but there were interesting stops along the way as she learned to make chocolate candy, almond milk, and mead; and took a sheep-slaught ...more
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up
I did not like this book. Her reasons and thoughts behind eating unprocessed and what is considered unprocessed are illogical. I stopped reading it after realizing I had told 3 people how much I hated it.
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Occasionally preachy, but mostly a comprehensive look at what is entailed in the processing of food and the consequences thereof.
Chris Cohen
Jun 12, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a tedious and unfocused book whose author was too in love with the subject matter to make it interesting and readable. I abandoned the book after only about 60 pages.
Lisa Van Gemert
May 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Meh. I liked it as much as I like any of these faux journalism books (sometimes called narrative journalism or literary journalism) until it crashed and burned.

It jumped the shark for me when she decided that because wine was processed (sugar & up to 70 other additives) but she really liked wine, she would drink it anyway because she needed it.

Please. I mean, the WHOLE BOOK is supposed to be about being unprocessed, and she goes to these ENORMOUS lengths to avoid processed food until she finds
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The best use of this book is to keep it on the counter in your kitchen so it constantly reminds you to try to eat less processed food. But that doesn't mean it's otherwise worthless. I'd probably give it 2-3 chapters before the final chapter, but that one really brings a lot of ideas together. The writing is a bit inefficient but the events are interesting enough, and what's best about the personal story displayed here is how hard it can be to rebel against the heavily subsidized and corporatize ...more
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Non-fiction: Memoir meets food politics. Megan Kimble is in graduate school in Tucson, Arizona. She has given herself the challenge of eating unprocessed food for a year and trying to understand the food systems of the US in the process. Her book is written in a narrative conversational format, though it is packed with a lot of good information (and comprehensive works cited list!) She walks through various kinds of food and situations, with each chapter organized thematically. She starts with t ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
As someone who's read a decent amount of food nonfiction, this one just felt tedious. It claimed to be a journey about a woman who decides to eat only unprocessed foods. I love this! I have gone through phases in my life when I was eating very unprocessed. Currently I'm aware that I definitely eat too much processed food (despite being vegan), and would love a kick in the pants to get me back on the unprocessed, whole foods track.

This book was not intimate enough in the right ways (despite bein
Julie Pahutski
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Somewhat interesting story of a young grad student who attempts to consume no processed food for a year. She struggles to identify what processed food really is--Washed eggs are processed, salad greens in a bag are processed, meat is processed because of how it must be handled in butchering. To her credit, she makes an effort to learn more about food processing, including visiting farms, honey producers, a local brewery and a class on how to butcher a sheep (with practical experience--not for th ...more
Dani S
Oct 10, 2020 rated it liked it
This book has been criticized as a naive white girl trying to eat unprocessed food and not having a clue about a lot of things the rest of us already know (like SNAP and where foods come from). I admit, when she whined about having to sort dry beans (the horror) and was judgy about an organic farmer eating Wendy’s occasionally, I definitely rolled my eyes at her. However, the good stuff about this book is the mass amounts of details about a lot of different kinds of foods in America and how it’s ...more
Jun 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Author Megan Kimble has written an amazing, though perhaps unintentional, follow up to Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. She made a pledge to not eat processed food for one year. Well, as you might imagine, that’s easier said than done. Much of her journey was spent identifying where to draw the line. For example, ordinary table salt must be extracted from the earth. Is this processing? Can you extract it yourself? What is the return on your investment to do that versus the cost of the indust ...more
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