Dr. Kellogg's corn flakes, patented in 1896, were probably the original, very simple, health food (even if no one would eat them until they were transformed into complex junk).
More recently, 'corn' has become associated with stuff that's definitely not in the healthy-choice section. For example: the number one staple junk food is corn syrup, then there's GM corn chock-full of its very own insecticide and specially accumulated weed-killer; and meat from intensively-reared livestock fast-fattened with GM corn to get them to market before their health buckles, washed down with milk from intensively reared dairy herds producing more milk than their bodies can handle (assisted by GM growth-hormone injections for good measure).
Milking (pardon the pun) the rising consumer concern about the cruelty involved in this routine extreme exploitation of cows to give them their daily pinta, scientists have invented Muufri (a worse pun).
Muufri is white stuff which tastes something like the cows' version and has six of its key proteins, no lactose and no bacteria. Its' made from (you guessed it) lots of little fermenting GMOs such as yeast, no doubt fed on sugar from GM maize and sugar-beet.
Besides adding Muufri to their corn-flakes later on this year, Americans will be able to use it to wash down their SunChips, a "better snack rich in whole grains and low in saturated fat and cholesterol that may help reduced the risk of heart disease". Healthy SunChips are made with 100% GM corn containing 'Bt' insecticidal proteins and a good helping of glyphosate herbicide.
PepsiCo, the company which owns SunChips' manufacturer, has contributed over $8 million to defeat GMO labelling initiatives in four US States plus over $5 million on associated lobbying during 2013 and the first half of 2014 alone. With such a spectacular GM content in one of its leading brand 'healthy' products, no wonder PepsiCo doesn't want to give its health-conscious customers any insider information.
Another healthy snack which has just gone out the window is apples: the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved GM non-browning apples in all the main varieties consumers like, including Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Fuji and Gala. Orchardists are, understandably, upset. They realise consumer acceptance will be a challenge, so unless the GM versions are labelled and the non-GM ones are verified, all apples will lose their market.
For American health-food fanatics who don't want to drink milk from a GM-fed cow reared in sordid conditions nor 'milk' from a GM fermentation vat, and who don't want to eat 'healthy' GM snacks with who-knows-what secret additives, let them eat chocolate.
Hershey's have responded to tens of thousands of Facebook and e-mails requests to drop GM ingredients. The Company has pledged to remove GM sugar beet, GM soya lecithin, and milk from GM-hormone-treated cows from its bestselling Milk Chocolate and Kisses by the end of the year.
And there's a whole lot more to come. Or, rather, go.
Hershey plans a transition to "simple snacking products" with "simple ingredients" because, quite simply "We all want and deserve to know what's in our food" (Hershey president and CEO). Out will go vanillin (a cheap chemical vanilla substitute), polyglycrol polyricinoleate (a castor-oil derived emulsifier to reduce the amount of expensive cocoa butter needed), artificial flavours and colours, corn syrup, and gluten. In will come fresh milk from local farms, and a full ingredient glossary plus suppliers' profiles on Hershey's website.
The project will take a few years to complete and ingredients will cost more in the short term, but Hershey is confident its product prices can be maintained.
While Americans' food becomes increasingly alien to their bodies (except for organic produce and Hershey's Chocolate Bars and Kisses), there's an interesting sign that the US Government has realised the great GM cover-up isn't sustainable. It needs, however, to pander to the pro-GM anti-labelling lobbying of Big Food and Big Biotech.
One answer proposed by the US Agricultural Secretary is invisible labels: information on GM content could be included in the bar-code.
Hershey's solution to the complexity we have imposed on our food is to make it simple.
There are simpler ways to produce milk than to immobilise the cows in a minimal space, feed them unnatural formulated feed, inject them with hormones, and add antibiotics to everything to keep disease at bay, and there are simpler ways to produce milk than to extract it from vats of fermenting GMOs.
There are simpler ways to control pests and produce non-browning apples than disrupting their genome with manufactured DNA (crop rotation is as old as the hills, and Washington State University has already conventionally bred apples which don't brown). And, it must be simpler to produce quality food, which you're not embarrassed to sell, than to spend so much cash on PR and lobbying to avoid labelling . And GM labelling in the bar-code is so simple it's stupid.
Take a lesson: anyone can post a 'no GM please' comment on Facebook or send an e-mail to a food company: VOICE YOUR DEMANDS.
PS. Dr. Kellogg's original healthy cornflakes were, reportedly, inedible, but Hershey isn't likely to make that mistake again.
- Kerstin Lindgren, 'Cow-Free Milk': a False Solution to Industry Agriculture, Organic Consumer Association, 4.03.15
- Frito-Lay SunChips test positive for weedkiller and GMOs, GMO Free USA, 14.02.15
- Oliver Nieburg, Hershey's Milk Chocolate and Kisses to go non-GM, Food Navigator, 23.02.15
- Lydia Warren, Hershey's pulls GMO ingredients from best-selling chocolate bars amid backlash against 'Frankenfoods', Daily Mail, 24.02.15
- GMO Labels, Please. No Barcodes! Organic Consumers Association, Organic Bytes, 8.03.15
- Washington State University develops non-GMO, non-browning apple alternative, www.non-gmoreport.com, 31.01.14
- Wenonoah Hauter, USDA approves GMO Arctic apples despite opposition, EcoWatch, 13.02.15
- USDA approves genetically engineered apple despite health concerns, Centre for Food Safety, 13.02.15
- Okanagan orchardists upset of genetically modified apples, The Morning Star, 13.02.15
- Carey Gillam, U.S. approves biotech apple that resists browning, Reuters, 13.02.15