Last week social media picked up on the fact that a grocery store manager in Rhode Island stopped stocking Kashi cereals because he felt like their claims of being natural were false and misleading.
He found out that Kashi cereals, which is owned by the huge conglomerate Kellogg, was using genetically modified soybeans in their “natural” cereals. People started posting about it on Facebook and as you say, the rest is media history.
I did not know much about genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s, until I started working with Attune Foods. I had heard about GMO’s but had not paid a lot of attention to them. Here in a nutshell is the issue as defined by the non-GMO project:
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
The whole GMO issue is very complex and I am certainly not a scientist. My philosophy is to try and eat as natural as possible and I do make use of the lists on the Non-GMO Project website to see what foods likely have GMO’s and which do not. Do I only eat Non-GMO food? No, because in my world that would be incredibly expensive and really hard. But I do the best I can right now.
Kashi has two problems as I see it. I, like many other people, assumed that it was organic and as such did not have GMO’s. I was wrong on both counts. Kashi bills itself as “natural” but does not say “organic.” That’s really my fault in assuming that because the cereal was in the “healthy foods” section of my grocery store that it was an organic product. The USDA does requires that foods labeled as organic be GMO free but the use of the term “natural” on food labels is not regulated. That means that a company can use the term in whatever way they choose.
I feel that Kashi was not upfront and transparent in their labeling, but do understand that the onus really is on the consumer to research which foods they eat and what is in those foods. The thing that makes it disappointing to me is that if I pick up a box of orange cheese crackers or brightly colored Fruit Loops I know they have ingredients in them that I do not need. However, when I looked at the Kashi boxes in my pantry, I assumed something different.
What do you think about this? Should Kashi be criticized like it is being or is it totally the responsibility of the consumer to research what the labels on the packages really mean? Diane
Here is a response from Kashi on the Natural Grocers website that I came across right before I published the article.