We launched a 30-day Barcode Free Challenge on the 6th August 2014, and we hope that you’re taking part! We haven’t asked you to do something we’re not, so the ANH Team is all doing it as well — although most of us already steer clear of ultra processed food anyway!

We’re very aware that many people these days feel time-poor and challenged by what needs to be accomplished in their day. Food preparation is one area that suffers because Big Food has made it possible to resort to the convenience of ready-prepared fast food. Removing a wrapper and pushing a few buttons is way quicker than cooking from scratch with real food ingredients. But it’s labour saving at a price. Are the knock-on effects to health and the healthcare systems worth those extra minutes saved in the kitchen?

We’ve a few particularly key recent articles that have really driven the point home that the western diet has to change. Soft drinks contain an enormous amount of damaging artificial ingredients, children are suffering the detrimental effects of huge amounts of sugar in their diet, and Western nations are fast becoming (or already are) obese and disease-ridden.

With all of this in mind — we thought it was time for a reminder, and to appreciate, how truly nourishing, satisfying and fulfilling it is to produce freshly prepared, home-cooked, real food for you and your family! As well as a reminder that it doesn’t have to be as time-consuming or as expensive as you may have been convincing yourself it is. Consider using some of the organic veg and fruit box schemes around (see below) that deliver fresh to your door. Many also do meat, fish and dry larder goods now too — all for very reasonable prices. However, if a supermarket is more convenient for you, then remember that most are like mausoleums — everything in the middle is dead, but the live offerings are round the edges! Stick to the edges and where the live offerings (e.g. fruit, vegetables, meat and fish counters) can be found.

So, side-step those sodas and squashes; move away from the microwave meals; put back the ultra processed food, and instead choose foods that require a little more than simply taking a lid or wrapper off. You’ll more than feel the benefit and reap the rewards of eating a fresh, wholesome diet in 30 days.  

Help us to inspire others by sharing your stories with us, sending us pictures of your culinary creations, or better still, with the recipes of your back-to-basics cooking (which we’ll credit to you). We not only want to spread this challenge around, but we’d also like you to as well — so get your family involved, your friends, work colleagues, everyone. Remember that we, as consumers, hold a full deck in our hands with the power to change the food industry. If we don’t buy it, there’s no point in making it! Let us know how you get on and we’ll do the same. Real food is where it’s at – we have a feeling you won’t go back!

Already taking part in this exercise are the team from Barcode Zero. We've suggested you try going barcode-free for 30 days but these guys have gone fully committed and are doing it for a year! Since 1st January 2014 they've been barcode-free in the food and drink department, and their blog contains a wealth of very well researched information about food and the food industry including a serious look at the shady side of the olive oil industry, and how all brands lead back to the same food conglomerates. Immerse yourself; links and references abound, follow-through literature, helpful sources for veg box schemes, markets, heirloom vegetable seed resources, farm shops, and a recent campaign.

Some helpful box (CSA) scheme links:




United States


New Zealand