A friend asked me how I decided what was considered processed vs. unprocessed since it’s not always obvious.
Good question! Thanks for asking.
I happen to like how they define it over at eatingrules.com. The following is taken straight from their site:
The “Kitchen Test” Definition
The first question I’m always asked is, “How do you define processed?”
Obviously there’s a wide range of implications in that word, and we will probably each define it slightly differently for ourselves. My definition is this:
Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.
I call it “The Kitchen Test.” If you pick up something with a label (if it doesn’t have a label, it’s probably unprocessed), and find an ingredient you’d never use in your kitchen and couldn’t possibly make yourself from the whole form, it’s processed.
It doesn’t mean you actually have to make it yourself, it just means that for it to be considered “unprocessed” that you could, in theory, do so.
These are the guidelines that I am using while deciding what is processed vs. not. I can use flour, for instance, without having to grind it myself as long as it’s unbleached and un-enriched (which is what I use anyway). For my purposes I will also consider raw cane sugar as un-processed as well. (You can find that in the ethnic section with the Mexican foods, not with the other sugar, usually).
I hope this helps! I’m always open to questions if you’re curious.