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Hey Kids! More on Fractional Foods

07 October 2010


low tech writer

These essays are now also available in book form, printed on real paper


In my last post, I wrote about the weird world of “half products”, processed food pellets that are not edible until expansion by microwaving, or some other process. After reflecting on what makes a product natural, or whole, I had another chance to analyze the claims of a “multi-grain” product. Today, to my great surprise, I opened our cereal cabinet to find a box of Froot Loops. The cabinet had never behaved in this way before. The cabinet usually contains boxes with names like “Soy and Flax Clusters”, a product more appropriate to a house where 40-somethings will eat, without question, whatever they find in the cabinet.


Where the Froot Loops came from, I did not know. But I knew that I had to have some. What a thrill to open a cereal box again and find that heavy foil-laminated inner wrapper that only the sweetest cereals merit (Soy and Flax Clusters only have a wax-paper liner). What a thrill to gaze upon the bright rainbow of colors made possible by science! Look at it! Did I mention that Froot Loops are multi-grain?


Printer-Ink Registration Marks on Packaging … Rainbow of Frooty Goodness … Separated at birth?

My initial thought as I chomped down on my first spoonful since 1986, was that the cereal wasn’t as sweet as I remember. But when I looked at the box and reassured myself that sugar was indeed the first and main ingredient, I knew it must be pilot error. Then I saw it: I’m using unsweetened soy milk! Silly me. I am out of practice. So what else is in Froot Loops? Of the three grains listed, only the last of them is whole: the oats. Add to these–in increasing amounts–white flour and refined corn (think: sugar), but don’t overdo it because real sugar has to be the number one ingredient, then add some partially hydrogenated oils, and you have a concoction that only a mad scientist would feed to children.

So why is this stuff in our cabinet? Turns out my wife, a children’s pastor, found them in our church resource room where she stages the chaos of her Sunday morning kid’s church supplies, and decided that the risk of children actually eating the stuff outweighed the benefit of making pretty necklaces and decided to dispose of it in a OSHA- and EPA- approved manner, i.e. put it where I would find it. She forgot to mention that the sell by date was almost a year ago. I swear I wouldn’t have known that by eating it.