Monday, February 27, 2012

Pantry Raid #12: Cereal

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So, I'm sitting on the couch with the hubby last night reading the most phenomenal book to the sounds of "boink, boink, squeek, squeek, boink, boink, squeek, boink..." (the sound of basketball is almost mind numbing to me) when a change in the tv screen catches my attention.  It a commercial (whew...a break from the boinks and squeeks)...the tv screen is filled with beautiful, amber waves..."oh cool, it's grain" I think to myself.   My mind wanders..."Cartoon grain?...oh, the Trix rabbit...the TRIX RABBIT?!?!?!...WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?!?!?".  The last part actually came blurting out of my mouth and drew the hubby's attention to what was causing my loud outburst.  The both of us sat there, dumbfounded, jaws on the floor, starring at this insane commercial. 

The makers of Trix, Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms, to name a few, have decided to market their sugar laden cereals as "whole grain".  I know some of you are probably thinking "where in God's creation have you been?", because as I began to research this new-to-me phenomenon, I realized it's not so new.  I'm just not a tv watcher (cable is just on because I haven't gotten around to turning it off after football season), and I haven't shopped the cereal isle in at least two years, so this "whole grain" thing slipped right by me. 

The maker of these kid-oriented breakfast items tells us on the website that "About 10 percent of the estimated whole grain consumed in America comes from Big G cereals. Today, General Mills delivers almost 35 million whole grain servings per day via Big G cereals alone."

That just plain old scares me! 

Why?  Let's take a look

Credit: General Mills
Whole grain means the grain was milled in it's entiriety--the bran, germ and endosperm.  Kudos to GM for using whole grain corn as the first ingredient (meaning the ingredient whose contents is the highest in this cereal), but the buck stops there with a big screeching halt.  Since it is not labeled non-GMO, you can bet with a 99.9% accuracy, that your kids are eating GMO corn. 

The next ingredient--sugar!  That's beet sugar most likely, because it is not labeled as cane sugar.  95% of beets grown for sugar in the US are GMO.  Not only are they GMO, there is no fat, fiber or protein in white sugar (cane or beet), nor is there any other vitamins or minerals--100% dead food (empty calories).

Corn Meal-because they couldn't make the cereal out of entirely whole grains (that would cut into their shelf-life and profits), so they needed a filler.  Corn meal is corn that is milled and stripped of it's bran and germ to preserve shelf life. Once again, it's not labeled non-GMO, so it most likely is a GMO and more dead food with empty calories.

Corn Syrup-I love that commercial about corn syrup where the sweet couple is sitting on the picnic blanket, and she offers him a popsicle.   He says "I thought you loved me?", and she tells him "it's made from corn, has the same calories as sugar and is fine in moderation".   Run, you poor man, run!!  She's like the modern day Eve, except without the serpent, because she IS the serpent!!!  Yes, it is "made" from corn...if you can still call it that after all the processing they do to it to get the end product.  Yes, it has the same dead calories as sugar.  No, it is almost impossible to moderate corn syrup in the average American diet because it's in everything (unless you are eating mostly whole foods). 

Canola and/or rice bran oil- Extracted properly and grown organically, these two oils could have actually been good for you.  Canola is almost impossible to grow organically or even non-GMO right now because of the infestation from GMO canola crops.  Organic farmers are dealing with cross-pollination and nasty law suits from Monsanto (the creators of the GMO seed and the Round-Up they use to spray the crops).  Then, the oils are extracted using chemicals and high heat.  This kills all the good for you stuff, leaves traces of bad for you chemicals behind and can cause free-radicals (carcinogens).
Trisodium Phosphate- The is a cleaning agent, food additive, degreaser and stain remover.  It is commonly found on the shelves of hardware stores.  Manufacturers use it in food as a thickener, emulsifier, or acidity regulator.  Why this is even used in cereal is beyond me...

Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1 and other colors added- I get why the coloring is in the makes it fun for the kids, so the kids "want" to eat it...another marketing ploy.  It's a frustrating topic, because we want our kids to have fun things to eat, but, really, the dangers outweigh the fun.  There are plenty of truly natural food dyes out there that will make food just as fun for our kids to eat...they don't have to eat poisons.  More info on these additives is available on the Valentine's Candy Pantry Raid.
Natural and artificial flavor- I won't get on my rant about this one today :)  All I have to say is that if they put all that other junk in the cereal already, I am pretty sure they aren't adding pure orange juice to get that orangy flavor.
Citric Acid-This is not your mama's citric acid.  I had myself completely convinced citric acid was just lemon juice.  A little research and science reared its ugly head again.  I talked about it in the All Natural Pantry Raid.

Malic Acid- This is a chemical food additive that enhances the sour flavor in foods.  Hmmm...maybe that's why they felt the need to add the trisodium phosphate to regulate the!

BHT- Is a preservative and stands for Butylated hydroxytoluene...sounds like something I want to eat.  I guess they shorten it to BHT so it doesn't scare label readers as bad...or, maybe, they might just accidentally overlook it :)  According to Wikipedia, it "is a lipophilic (fat-soluble) organic compound that is primarily used as an antioxidant food additive (E number E321) as well as an antioxidant additive in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil, and embalming fluid."  They also mentioned that "In the 1970s, Benjamin Feingold, a San Francisco MD who established the Feingold diet, claimed that BHT could produce hyperactivity in some children".  Sounds like a plan to me...feed the kids a big bowl of BHT and send them off to their teachers, but hey, they got their whole grains for the day.  Crazy!!!!

The book I'm reading references a research project done on rats.  Some were fed cereal similar to the one I've cited here.  The others were fed the cardboard boxes that the cereal was packaged in.  The ones eating the boxes thrived better.  Essentialy the rats fed the boxes were fasting while the ones fed the cereal were eating toxic white flour, sugar and artificial colors. 

I just grabbed the label off of one cereal.  The rest of them aren't much different.  Even Wheaties have corn syrup, BHT and sodium phosphate.  My point...take the time to read the labels or,
save yourself the headache, and just make them a bowl of oatmeal.

Happy Monday!


  1. Love the raids. Have you raided your cookware yet? I'm working toward all cast iron and stainless and trying to get rid of all plastic.

    1. Thanks, girl!! I accidentally had all cast iron and less thing to have to change ;) I love, love, love my cast iron!!! I have your doughnot recipe on the "try" list this week...can't wait!!