"We fret about what to select from overabundant produce sections. Busy, broke, and overtaxed by decisions, we want a label to tell us."
For the past few years, I’ve found myself very interested in food and fitness. I wanted to pick up Megan Kimble’s book Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food for a couple of reasons. I wanted to see what Kimble would uncover about how our food is made and what it takes to get it to us. You know. Beyond the labels. I really thought I would learn some easy ways to eat “cleaner”, healthier meals while traveling for work and play. While there are some things I picked up that could help me there, what I found were lessons that we can apply to our food, our work, and our lives.
Kimble tackles different categories of food, alcohol, and eating out. At the end of each chapter she gives a neat summary of a few ways that you can consider unprocessing your life. Some chapters give short recipes for things like bread, chocolate, pesto, mead, and how to can tomatoes. Read on for my thoughts on how Kimble’s ideas apply to business. Read the book to find out what Kimble learned about food.
The Big Idea
"Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good."
My LEAST favorite business phrase is “done is better than perfect.” I think the phrase allows us to give less than our best effort in order to just be finished. However, Kimble tweaks the idea in a way that makes it far more productive, whether you’re considering making your own bread or creating a new marketing program.
This idea can be applied to food, to work, to exercise, journaling, and really just about any aspect of your life. In Kimble’s unprocessed adventure, she starts with wheat. She’s a little frustrated to learn that buying whole wheat doesn’t mean that you are getting wheat that hasn’t been taken apart and “put back together”. She decides to grind her own wheat and make her own bread, but finds that may not be the best use of her time every time she wants bread. Later in the book she talks about processes that we readily pay for because we don’t have the time it takes to make all the food that we consume. So, early in her endeavor, she realizes that her year unprocessed will be a journey. If she tries to be perfect in every moment, she’ll miss out on the learning process and possibly give up altogether.
I think that this is an important lesson for all of us, and not just in changing our food consumption. Forward motion is good. Perfect can be the enemy of that forward motion. Drink one more glass of water today and one less Coke. Exercise twice this week instead of zero times. Get the side salad instead of the fries. Test the marketing campaign to see how viewers respond. Get your intern to research a social media platform to see if it’s viable. You don’t have to be perfect every time. But if you make the best decision you can most of the time, you’re on the right track.
"Although I eventually succeeded with bread and chocolate, it is fun to make salt on my first try. This fun reminds me that, although I am still overwhelmed by unprocessed, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming always."
When Kimble started her year of unprocessed eating, she didn’t yet know what she could and could not eat. It was a year of unraveling what it really meant to eat unprocessed. She started out with wheat and sugar and found that there was a lot more to creating the things that we eat than she could have imagined. Although it was much easier to make (or extract) salt from ocean water, she found the process very time consuming. Even so, she took it one step at a time.
When we have big endeavors, we should break them down and take them step-by-step. Some steps will be hard, and some will be easy. The easy steps and celebrating the small victories helps to alleviate feelings of stress and overwhelm. To go back for a moment to the The Big Idea, it’s easy to let the quest for perfection get in the way of progress. Breaking down an overwhelming project into manageable chunks makes it easier and more enjoyable.
Fail, learn and try again
"If I didn’t try to engage in the messiness, of eating out and eating with another, then even if I ate perfectly unprocessed, I wouldn’t really have lived unprocessed…today’s world is one of moderation. Of trying and failing, and then trying and half-succeeding."
Eating alone in her kitchen made eating unprocessed easy, relatively speaking. Kimble found that sharing meals with others, either at home or in restaurants, made eating unprocessed more challenging. But we all live in a world that includes other people. There is always someone to share the messiness with!
It’s so important to try our best, fail, learn, and try again. The world has become so fast paced that we often think that we should be good at something as soon as we give it a try. I think we forget the beauty of failing and learning from our failures.
I have an intern who is a part of two different projects. One is very fast paced, many short deadlines, and a more specific final product than the other. We had a great conversation where we talked about the difference between the pace of the projects. One is a test that may fail entirely and never go public while the other one will absolutely have a final published product. But failure of the one wouldn’t really be failure in my eyes. We have to research, consider our options, and decide our best course of action.
I learned a lot more from Kimble about life and business than I thought I would. There are food and business lessons in Unprocessed than I could include. It was a great read and I would love to hear what lessons you can apply to your life and what you learn about food by reading about Kimble’s journey. Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments below!