Monday, April 30, 2012

Cereal and the nature of reality: "natural" does not equal "organic."

The USA Today, a paper Homer Simpson described as "the only paper in America that's not afraid to tell the truth, that everything is just fine,"  has a story about how some folks are distressed to learn that Kashi cereals are "natural" but not "organic." 

Apparently someone at the Green Grocer, a Portsmouth, Rhode Island, natural and organic food store, decided to stop selling Kashi brand cereals because Kashi uses soybeans that are genetically modified.  Specifically, the soybeans are resistant to Roundup herbicide.  Growing this type of soybean allows the farmer to kill weeds with Roundup without killing the soybeans.  Farmers using roundup no longer have to employee their children, or others, to walk the beans.

Kashi labels its cereals as "natural."  In any event, it turns out that "natural" is a term that is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This allows Kashi, which is owned by Kellogg, to define natural as "food that's minimally processed, made with no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners."  That definition was provided by David DeSouza, Kashi's general manager.  Kashi's definition differs somewhat from Webster's definition of Natural as an adjective meaning "in accordance with or determined by nature"

Some folks feel that Kashi is misleading people but the article quotes Barbara Haumann of the Organic Trade Association in Brattleboro, Vermont. to defend Kashi.  Ms. Haumann thinks that customers "don't understand that the only way to get organic food is to buy organic."  The FDA defines organic foods as foods grown by methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity.  Specifically, the crops must be grown without using synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.  A useful explanation of this difference is here

I guess people should set their umbrage levels based on whether they think Kashi was trying to trick them into thinking "natural" meant "organic."  Cereal boxes are a form of advertising and I assume that using the word "natural" was meant to appeal to the type of people who might shop at the Green Grocer.  So I doubt the controversy is helping to sell Kashi cereal.  On the other hand, what do I know?  My favorite breakfast foods are donuts and/or Pop-Tarts.

1 comment:

  1. Natural: wood, dirt, sunlight,
    Organic: DDT, PCBs, TNT, polyester ...


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