I don’t trust genetically modified food to be safe for our health or environment. About five years ago, I realized that several of our favorite breakfast cereals contained corn, and I’d been reading that most corn grown in the United States that isn’t organically grown is now GMO. We gave up buying those cereals routinely…but it was hard to resist the best sales! We love eating cereal, and the mainstream brands are inexpensive, especially on sale, whereas the organic brands are priced so much higher that we’re rarely willing to pay for them (except for this delicious, low-sugar granola from Costco). We wound up getting most of our cereals from Trader Joe’s, where all house-brand products are GMO-free and the prices aren’t too bad.
Did you know that Cheerios contain corn? You probably think that’s an oat cereal. But if you compare Cheerios to most of the store-brand imitators, the flavor is a bit different: The generic ones taste more plain, while Cheerios have a particular roasty-toastiness. The difference in ingredients is that Cheerios contain a small amount of corn. Therefore, no more Cheerios for my family.
We were still buying Post Grape Nuts, though. No corn in those! But one day I noticed that the box said, “Now with more protein!” and read the ingredients for the first time in years: They now contained soy protein. Most non-organic soybeans grown in the United States are now GMO, too. Sigh. No more Grape Nuts.
Then, one wonderful day last year, I noticed a sign above the enormous pile of yellow boxes that were on special at Costco: GMO-free Cheerios. Really?! I examined the box excitedly but saw nothing there about GMOs one way or another. Warily, I bought one of the big double packs at the bargain price, and when I got home I searched for information online. I learned that General Mills decided to put in a little effort to use non-GMO corn and sugar in original flavor Cheerios because the recipe is so simple (compared to flavored Cheerios) that this was easy to do. Hooray!
Not long afterward, I was craving Grape Nuts, saw them on sale, and noticed the Non-GMO Project logo on the box! Right next to it was a circle saying Soy Free, and sure enough, isolated soy protein is no longer in the ingredient list. Post took the soy out of Grape Nuts to make them GMO-free to appeal to certain target markets–like me!
I’m so glad that my family can have convenient snacks of affordable Cheerios and Grape Nuts again! Our nine-month-old daughter can practice her pincer grip on crunchy little circles without being exposed to weird untested ingredients, and when she accidentally scatters some of them on the floor I don’t freak out about wasting expensive food. (I do eat Cheerios that have been on the floor, sometimes….)
I know that some of the most serious healthy eaters these days won’t eat any ready-made packaged cereals or won’t eat any grain foods at all. I’ve heard the arguments against them–but I feel that my family is thriving on grains as a part of our diet, and some of the simpler and less sweetened cereals are some of the grain foods we eat. It’s great that some of the major brands are responding to consumer pressure to sell foods free of GMOs.
These two nutritious cereals that I’ve been enjoying since childhood work for me now that they are GMO-free! Visit Real Food Friday for more articles on healthy eating! Visit the Hearth & Soul Hop for more great food ideas!