As a kid, I was a huge cereal lover. I ate it every morning before school and on most weekends. To make matters worse, while I was munching on my sugar nuggets, I would watch all those cute little cartoon commericals on TV advertising new varieties of these marshmallow-filled boxes of joy. Of course, I proceeded to do what any child high on ridiculous amounts of sugar would do - I ran around the house asking for the newest cereal concoction. My wish was always granted. The only catch was that I had to finish off the old box first. I never did though; the new box got opened up the morning after it was purchased. I was sneaky like that.
Thinking about all those different "kids'" cereals now, I don't know what I was so excited about. They're all pretty much the same: Sugar, wheat/corn/rice, sugar, sugar, food colouring, BHT (we'll get to what this BHT stuff is in a bit!). I don't know about you, but looking at that picture above makes my teeth ache and pancreas cry. Did I really eat all those boxes of cereal as a kid? Do parents still feed their kids this stuff? Do kids still ask for it?
Although it's not very often that I go into a conventional grocery store, I recently found myself in one with my father and was shocked to see how much of the "cereal isle" is devoted to these colourful sugary cereals. The ones marketed towards children are cleverly found on the lower shelves so that they are eye-level with youngsters. How diabolical...
This is the ingredient list of an ever-popular kids' cereal Lucky Charms:
Whole Grain Oats, Marshmallows (sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellows 5&6, blue 1, red 40, artificial flavour), Sugar, Oat flour, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Colour Added, Natural and Artificial Flavour. BHT added to preserve freshness.
The Ugly Breakdown:
- Sugar is listed 5 times.
- There are 4 types of food colourings.
- "Flavouring" appears 3 times (there is nothing natural about "natural flavour". Real food has flavour on its own).
- Genetically modified corn ingredients are abundant (modified corn starch, corn syrup listed twice, and corn starch).
- BHT has been added. Although it does not specify whether it has been added to the actual cereal or to the packaging material, this is not something we want in or near ourselves/our kids. As a food additive, BHT increases a food product's shelf life but it has been linked to numerous health concerns such as cancer, thyroid and kidney disorders, allergic reactions on the skin, and reproductive issues. Health Canada has categorized BHT as a "moderate human health priority".
We've all heard the age-old but true nutritional advice that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is espeically true for kids who are still devleoping and will really have trouble maintaining focus and energy during a long school day without stable blood sugar levels. Why feed kids this product? Is there anything good about it? Maybe the whole grain oats, but it really takes only a few minutes to cook up some oatmeal on the stove. From scratch! Nothing fake and mashmallowy about that!
If you still need a cereal fix, Meghan's got you covered tomorrow. A perfect breakfast idea for the warmer weather is coming your way!
Question Of The Day: What was your favourite childhood food? Have you found any ways to remake it?