Your Guide to Reading Between the Tines

Why Communists Hate Cheerios (and Other Tales)

It turns out that communists and their grand poo-bah (read: Barack Obama) hate Cheerios.  So says Ed Anger of the Weekly World News.  Now, I’m not familiar with Anger, and I have no idea if he shoots from the hip as a columnist or if his schtick is parody.  The pseudonym and the whole Weekly Word News medium suggest parody, but the intertubes tell me he has a devout following that embrace his rants as gospel, so what do I know?  That said, you may have noticed that Cheerios cereal has been getting some press lately due to a warning letter the FDA issued to General Mills. Certainly, some people certainly are taking the defense of their breakfast very seriously.

Seeing as she’s a red-blooded, all-American, all-capitalist sort of columnist, the (fortunately) inimitable Michelle Malkin has stepped up to decry the attack on Cheerios.  In the sparse lines of a non-article, Malkin manages to equate the Cheerio dust-up with both Nazi fascism (see the title of her post, an echo of the first line of Martin Niemöller’s famous poem) and socialism (complaining of proposed public funding of health care), an interesting paradox that defies my best attempts at logic.  To wit: based on Niemoller’s poem and Malkin’s clumsy invocation of its first line, somehow the Cheerios actually became the communists in this scenario. I honestly didn’t see that one coming.  (I doubt Malkin did, either.)

So, what’s the problem here, anyway?

According to the FDA, the problem is the liberal sprinkling of overambitious qualified health claims stamped all over every box of Cheerios, particularly this one: “[It can] lower your cholesterol 4 percent in 6 weeks.”

The FDA, being the killjoy that it is, had the gall to point out that a few of these claims are not backed up by  actual science.  Simply, unless GM were to add in some info about fat levels, fruits and veggies, and some other odds and ends in making a truly heart-healthy diet, these claims are misleading.  Naturally, the FDA wants these claims taken off or General Mills to consider reclassifying Cheerios as a drug, seeing as how they are trying to use a claim that “according to federal law, should apply only to drugs designed to cure disease.”  Imagine.  Those little cardboard-flavored oaty-O’s that give thousands of American children weird-tasting burps each day…soon available by prescription only?

Because I like bottom lines, I’m going to give you one.

Ain’t nobody trying to take your Cheerios away.

All the FDA is asking is that companies try not to convince consumers that good health comes in the shape of highly-processed oaty-O’s, wrapped in plastic and sitting in a pretty box.  They don’t have to stop selling them.  They just have to stop bending the truth into funny shapes while trying to sell them.

What’s the problem again?


8 Comments so far

  1. Aaron May 19th, 2009 6:05 am

    You are the bomb. I’m going to use your post in my Environmental Science class this morning.

    I have an “In The News” segment each day and this will work well.

    Thank you!

  2. Mangochild May 20th, 2009 2:04 am

    I agree with you, no one is stopping anyone from eating anything. Even if Cheerios were loaded with “bad stuff” (however a person wants to define it), people can still eat them – just as people can eat other unhealthy things if that’s the choice they made. The important part is *knowing* what one is putting in the mouth – the choice must be a knowing one.. As you said, they have to just stop twisting (or giving partial information) about what the product is and what it does/doesn’t do.

  3. Kimmus May 20th, 2009 12:32 pm

    Thank you for being a voice of reason, dear Laurel. What Aaron said, You da bomb!

  4. Michelle @ Find Your Balance May 21st, 2009 11:12 am

    Laurel, do you know anything about extrusion and its effect on food? I’ve been reading/hearing about it and from what I gather the Cheerios conversation has a lot more to it. Thoughts?

  5. Laurel May 21st, 2009 7:36 pm

    I heard about extrusion several years ago when I read a book by Paul Stitt. (Similar story cited there, but with rats and puffed rice, if I recall.) There’s a lot of info out there for and against extrusion, and nothing is coming from a scientist I know well enough for me personally to accept without question…though there’s plenty for me to question. When there are questions, I prefer to err on the side of caution. (Which is usually the more delicious side, anyway.) I’m not too worried about extrusion in my life because I follow the policy that I should not be buying food that comes in cardboard boxes with ingredient lists. Personally, I get the raw materials and whip up a new batch of granola every week. Extrusion-free breakfasts! (And preservative/corn syrup/stabilizer/GMO/chemical-free. Also cheaper for my nutritional dollar.) I also really like peanut butter and banana sandwiches on cinnamon raisin bread for breakfast when I’m in a hurry. (Which is all the time now that I’ve started my new job.)

    I’m all about the simple. Thanks for the link, though. You’ve got some good ideas for my readers!

  6. Lotus August 7th, 2009 9:34 am

    Yeah you are right. Actually for many years I wished for Cheerios, but they are so darned expensive and rarely go on sale. So I ate them rarely. Now that I have started buying them more often, I realize it makes no sense. Back to oatmeal for me. Cheap and best – leaves plenty of $$ for almonds or something actually worth the cash.

    Have you seen the FDA bend over backwards to “clarify” what it said about Cheerios?

  7. Laurel August 16th, 2009 8:46 pm

    I have been largely lost in the crazy pile of “stuff” that needs a-doin’ ’round these parts lately. I’d love a link if you have one, Lotus! Thanks for the tip! :)

  8. Randy February 10th, 2010 10:18 pm

    Genetically Modified cheerios – GM cheerios!
    Why is there CORN in an oat cereal? It wasn’t there a year ago. It’s difficult to find any packaged food these days that doesn’t contain GMO corn, soy or canola. I don’t buy any product that contains any of these and a number of other poisons, including artificial sweeteners and Tartrazine – actually, anything that lists colour or flavour. I bet you didn’t know that Monsanto is now manufacturing sugar from GMO sugar beets! It won’t be long now, before there’s no real food left, except for the millions of seeds that Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bill Gates and the Rockefeller foundation have hidden inside a mountain in the Arctic (Doomsday Vault).

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