Monday, August 31, 2009

So-called healthy cereal

If you watch any amount of regular television you've probably seen at least one Kashi ad. Usually a vigorous-looking smiling young woman is engaging in some kind of sport, like wakeboarding or mountain-climbing. She talks about how she is passionate about health and being active, and that's why she works for Kashi (this is how I remember them, anyway -- I always try not to give 100% of my attention during these displays of intentional deception).

Here in the U.S. (as in many parts of the world) we have been hoodwinked into believing that breakfast cereal is part of a complete diet. This goes along with many other myths (like solidified soybean oil is healthier than butter, or we should all put a toxic compound into our mouths at least twice daily to prevent cavities). At the heart of the breakfast cereal propaganda is, of course, the desire to make money. In other words: GREED. There is absolutely no need for humans to consume puffed, extruded, denatured, and over-sweetened grains from a box to grow properly or have energy for the day or lower their cholesterol or lose weight. [Wow, until I wrote that line I didn't even realize just how many things TV had taught me about cereal!]

At this point most of us know that fruit loops, frosted flakes, and cocoa puffs aren't doing our bodies (or those of our kids) any favors. But what about the so-called "healthy" cereals? We have now been successfully brainwashed to think anything with the words "whole grain" or "organic" are good for us -- which is why people are shelling out $6.99 at my local Brooklyn grocery store for 10.4 oz. of Kashi Strawberry Fields. This breaks down to about 78 cents for a tiny serving (the nutrition facts are based on 9 servings per box, but most people would finish this box after about 4-5 bowls of cereal -- or so claim the eager eaters who are posting their comments on the Kashi site).

Not only does this cereal contain TWO sweeteners offering the equivalent of 2.25 tsp. of sugar per tiny serving (you could be getting 4.5 tsp. of sugars if you pour a more generous helping), but the two "whole grains" it contains are nothing special: rice and wheat. What's wrong with eating rice in its whole form? This would be what we know as BROWN RICE. It tastes great by itself, in savory dishes, or sweet ones (you can even have it for breakfast with butter, raw honey, milk, and a little cinnamon). And what about wheat? Wheat is high in phytic acid which needs to be neutralized, as well as enzyme inhibitors (rice contains both as well, but in smaller amounts). The processing that must occur to transform grains of wheat and rice into puffs and flakes is NOT A NATURAL PROCESS. Not only does it leave in all the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, but it also actually destroys the nutritional value of the grains. Sally Fallon writes in Nourishing Traditions, "Cruelty to grains in the making of breakfast cereals is intense. Slurries of grain are forced through tiny holes at high temperatures and pressures in giant extruders, a process that destroys nutrients and turns the proteins in grains into veritable poisons."

The organic label is no reason to buy this cereal. The whole grain label is no reason to buy this cereal. And the fact that Kellogg's owns Kashi is a great reason NOT to buy this cereal! Save your $6.99: buy yourself a bag of delicious organic locally-milled & grown oatmeal from your farmers' market along with some seasonal summer fruit, and enjoy many mornings of delicious wholesome breakfasts!

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