Corn Flakes




I was wrestling with a new box of the breakfast cereal I eat every day, somehow I had the idea it was a healthy kind.  Not wrestling with the box, actually, but the plastic envelope inside, made out of some kind of moonshot material, near indestructible, have to wonder why they don’t make cars out of it.  After much tugging and swearing, and a thumbnail ripped almost off, I had to go find a scissors to open it.  Manufacturers of household items should be required to have them tested by an old person first, the last words I would use to describe this envelope would be ‘senior-friendly’.

Anyway, that got me cranky enough to actually read what it says on the box.  “4 authentic grains” it says, which makes one ask what exactly would be an inauthentic grain?  So I turned to the ingredients list, and it shows number one, corn, number two whole wheat, and number 3, sugar.  Sugar?? This is health food, and there is more sugar than authentic grain numbers 3 and 4 (oats and rice)?  Reading on, we find it also contains barley, canola, and sunflowers, so presumably those are the inauthentic grains, see how a little research answers questions!

Then it says “Crispy Flakes, Crunchy Oats”.  Crunchy oats?  So I looked in the package, nope, not an oat to be seen, neither crispy nor crunchy.  So the “Whole Grain Rolled Oats” must be ground up and mixed into the flakes, where, according to the above, they would be crispy, not crunchy.

Reading on, we find that the product is “honey roasted”.  The word roasted brings to mind the thanksgiving turkey, or a prime rib of beef, nicely browned and swimming in gravy, somehow incongruous when talking about corn flakes.  Honey is number 14 on the ingredient list, after stuff like sugar, salt, glucose-fructose, and molasses, but before such stuff as diglycerides and artificial flavour.  Thinking about this, ‘honey roasted’ seems like a tad over the top in promoting this stuff as health food.  Nevertheless, it apparently ‘meets the criteria’ of HealthCheck.  However, a fee is paid for that so I wonder how much that really means.

Now I am getting into the really fine print, and find that the package is treated to “help maintain product freshness”.  Treated  with “BHT”, which sounds like a really healthy, natural thing, right up there with DDT and MSG and PCB.  Come to think of it, when is the last time you saw say a mouse, or a bug, in a cereal package.  Or any kind of deterioration or spoilage, for that matter.  So, if BHT is strong enough to keep a mouse out of that yummy, healthy cereal, maybe it is strong enough to do something to me.  Maybe that is why I don’t seem as graceful as I fancy I once was.  Or I get more distressing internal rumbles and emissions.  Or body parts seem much more enthusiastic about heading south, that is, toward the bottom of the map.  Hmm.

Then, the clincher, ‘imported by’.  Imported?  Don’t we grow oats and corn and wheat and rice and barley and sunflowers and honey in this country?  Imported from where?  Irrigated by sewage instead of our good clean Canadian rain? 

I am stewing about this, and not enjoying my breakfast at all, when in walks my neighbour Joe, the best educated high-school dropout  I know.  After I get some coffee in front of him, I tell him about my breakfast dilemma, saying I wish I had never read the package.

Joe thinks a minute, then says “Well, science is telling us now that they are ‘sorry, folks, we made a mistake, actually eggs are good for you, we were just experimenting when we scared you off them’.  So all you have to do is add a few laying hens to that scrawny backyard flock of yours, and get off the expensive cereal and onto your own eggs”.

So I guess breakfast will involve a lot more frying than sloshing on milk in future.  But then how will I get my daily ration of milk?  Life is complicated.

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