An outpour of angry customers felt deceived from the “All Natural” label listed on Kashi’s packages. Though what most consumers do not understand is that the word “Natural” is not regulated by the FDA, and has no standards that it must live up to, unlike the term “Organic”. Therefore, a Kashi representative spoke that “the cereal maker has done nothing wrong by defining “natural” as minimally-processed with no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or sweeteners”. I am definitely not siding with Kashi, but this is reinforcing the fact why it is so important to NOT trust labels and packaging, and instead educate yourself on what materials are listed on the ingredient list, and most of all, be aware of where your food is coming from! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if that means calling the company! Take the time and do the research.
I remember when Kashi first came out on the market and it was all the rage. It’s earthy packaging and marketing campaigns helped to sell consumers on the fact that they were not only healthy, but sustainable. This may have been true back then. Kashi started as a small locally owned company in La Jolla California, introducing its first cereal back in 1984, though its success and popularity did not take off till many years later (1999). Graduating from San Diego State University (near La Jolla) as a nutrition major, Kashi was a hometown name. Our department loved the brand and being that it came from San Diego, made us proud to support such a pure company. This was my go to cereal before I stopped eating processed grains. It wasn’t till years later that I found out that Kashi was sold to Kellogg’s in 2000. If I were to guess, I would assume that being a small local company made for more integrity and higher quality ingredients (or maybe not, who knows, but I would like to think so). When Kellogg’s got a hold of it, this was when their diet line of products started to emerge. The Go Lean cereals, bars, shakes, frozen meals… More sugar was added to the food, more processing and more technology went into manufacturing their products, compromising even more nutrients (who knows, maybe they even soaked their grains before Kellogg’s! Kidding…I know that’s a stretch).
It makes sense that the word natural would mean just that, but unfortunately now a days our food system is much more complicated than we would like to believe. Pictures of nature, rolling green hills, beautiful gardens, happy animals and smiling farmers come to mind when we hear this word, never to be associated with chemicals, weed killers, and especially a fake engineered food, though unfortunately this is now the case. Maybe not for every food on the market, but sadly this is true for 80% of food in the grocery store (yes, even Whole Foods!). Processed food is the first thing we think of to contain GMO’s, but just because it’s a whole food does not mean it’s necessarily safe. Again, why the importance of buying organic is a must!
Most food manufacturers are well aware that consumers are drawn to food that is “natural”. There is a trend right now where people are becoming more health conscious, but that doesn’t mean they have all the facts. Sadly, they are taken advantage of while being lured into spending more without getting their money’s worth. This is being known as “green- washing”
SOYBEANS- Not as healthy as you may think!
Soybeans are one of the largest sources of genetically modified ingredients in food. This is a sneaky and cheap way for companies to keep the cost of food low while still marketing as a “health food”. The more obvious food choices to contain soy are tofu and edamame, but the sneakier sources include cereals, crackers/ chips, mayo, bread, salad dressings, prepared sauces, condiments, dips and even chocolate (soy lecithin)! Be on the look out for these words on the ingredient list when looking for soy dervitives:
- soy lecithin
- soy oil
- TVP (texturized vegetable protein), or basically anything with the word “vegetable” without telling you which vegetable- it’s almost always soy because of the surplus.
- Vegetable oil can be a mixture of soybean, canola (another GMO product), and peanut oils (Avoid all!)
As of now, GM crops are common in the United States and no labeling is required. Because of this, It’s likely that even the most health conscious may still be getting GMO’s in their diet. The best way to find out whether your food choices contain genetically engineered ingredients is to choose local and organic options. Talk with farmers and producers at your local farmers market, ask a manager or worker at your local health food store, where usually they know where their supply is coming from. Even if they don’t have the answer, you are creating awareness by exposing them to this issue. The demand from a customer is what causes change!
If you can’t buy the groceries you need from your hometown, there are many great online companies that you can buy healthy organic and sustainable food from. These include US Wellness meats, Vital Choice and even local CSA programs in your area (check out my resource page for more information). If a company is resistant or is not able to supply you with answers, they more than likely use GM ingredients. Manufacturers that don’t use GMO’s are proud of this and will use it as a selling point.
If you would like more information about GMO’s and the initiative to support GMO labeling , check out my blog “It’s Our Right To Know”
For the the full story on the Kashi scandal from USA Today, click here: “Kashi cereal’s ‘natural’ claims stir anger”