I do my best to limit processed food in our diet, but we still have cereal and a selection of crackers and chips (among other things). When I started buying only organic cereal, I had a hard time finding one that my daughter liked. Cereal can be expensive, so doing trial and error is not exactly budget friendly. I will mention that Whole Foods guarantees all of their products, so if you buy something and don’t like it, they will gladly take it back with or without a receipt. We tried their organic version of “fruity O’s” and it was not good. I did however have success with Gorilla Munch. It’s very similar to Kix (in my opinion), but it’s a bit crunchier and doesn’t get soggy in the milk. Here are the ingredients in Gorilla Munch: Organic Corn Meal, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Sea Salt. That’s it. PLUS, none of these ingredients are GMO, and they haven’t been sprayed with any synthetic pesticides. So, I would say it’s WAY more “natural” than the other leading brand. DON’T buy it at Publix though! They charge $4-5 a box. YIKES! At Whole Foods and Trader Joes you can find Gorilla Munch for $2.99 all the time. Whenever I’m there, I usually stock up.
Just one more “soap box” comment. The fact that General Mills can put “made with ALL NATURAL CORN” on this box of cereal infuriates me. There are no regulations that require them to label the GMO corn they use in their products (which is also sprayed with pesticides OR genetically modified to have the pesticide INSIDE the corn), and there are no regulations to back up the word “natural”, which is VERY misleading. Whew, okay, done.
Okay, if you’re still reading, here is some more information. Last year I read this VERY informative cereal report from the Cornucopia Institute. I know that everyone doesn’t have the time (or desire) to read a report like this, and if you are still here and reading my blog, then you must want to know my thoughts. So, here are a few of my “take-aways” from reading this report.
- When you see “natural” on a product, it means almost nothing.
- Cereals and grains are very highly processed, including the use of HEXANE gas and other synthetic ingredients. This is STANDARD practice, and nothing you would ever read on a label. Besides being sprayed with pesticides while growing the crops (corn, wheat, oats), the grains are routinely sprayed with highly toxic chemicals (such as Chlorpyrifos Methyl and Sulfuryl Flouride) to eliminate pests during storage. These chemicals can be found on the final product (your breakfast cereal), and doesn’t get washed off. From Wikipedia: Chlorpyrifos is moderately toxic to humans and chronic exposure has been linked to neurological effects, developmental disorders, and autoimmune disorders. Exposure during pregnancy retards the mental development of children, and most use in homes has been banned since 2001 in the U.S. In agriculture, it remains “one of the most widely used organophosphate insecticides”, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Most of these “natural” products are owned by bigger companies (like Kelloggs, GM, etc) and they are charging a premium price, and taking advantage of consumers that do not understand the difference between organic and natural (and there is a BIG difference). This also hurts the Organic companies that follow USDA Organic guidelines and PAY big premiums to be certified organic. Often, the organic products are even cheaper than those listed as “natural.”
The next time you go to the grocery store, take a look at the “natural” section of the cereal aisle. You’ll find a wide variety of products ranging from GREAT companies like Ezekiel, to not-so-natural companies like Kashi (owned by Kelloggs). How is the average consumer supposed to decipher all of the ridiculous claims on the boxes?
One of the tips from Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, is don’t eat anything that makes a health claim. Seems so simple! If it’s making a health claim it’s probably in a box, right? The poor apples, bananas, kale, and broccoli have no labels to make health claims (bummer, right?). Can you just imagine all the wonderful vegetables with labels, what would they say? “EAT ME!!! I have tons of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, cancer-fighting, immune-boosting, energy-packing goodness inside!!!”