My apologies for inadvertently publishing an incomplete post this morning. And my thanks to my many readers who notified me of same.
I was asked a question on my Facebook page: “Do I take requests? And would I write about whether eating breakfast was important?”
I do take requests but I already wrote about breakfast in 2013 in a post entitled “Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day: Feel Free to skip it.”
This request reminded me of a chapter from Melanie Warner’s excellent analysis of the food industry, “Pandora’s Lunchbox.” I had pulled a quote from my iBook version of that book and pondered writing a blog post on breakfast cereal as an update to my previous breakfast post.
The quote was:
“Walk down a cereal aisle today or go onto a brand’s Web site, and you will quickly learn that breakfast cereal is one of the healthiest ways to start the day, chock full of nutrients and containing minimal fat. “Made with wholesome grains,” says Kellogg’s on its Web site. “Kellogg’s cereals help your family start the morning with energy by delivering a number of vital, take-on-the-day nutrients—nutrients that many of us, especially children, otherwise might miss.” It sounds fantastic. But what you don’t often hear is that most of these “take-on-the-day” nutrients are synthetic versions added to the product, often sprayed on after processing. It’s nearly impossible to find a box of cereal in the supermarket that doesn’t have an alphabet soup of manufactured vitamins and minerals, unless you’re in the natural section, where about half the boxes are fortified.”
The Kellogg’s and General Mills of the world strongly promoted the concept that you shouldn’t skip breakfast because they had developed products that stayed fresh on shelves for incredibly long periods of time. They could be mixed with easily accessible (low-fat, no doubt) milk to create inexpensive, very quickly and easily made, ostensibly healthy breakfasts.
Unfortunately, the processing required to make these cereals last forever involved removing the healthy components.
As Warner writes about W.K. Kellogg:
“In 1905, he changed the Corn Flakes recipe in a critical way, eliminating the problematic corn germ, as well as the bran. He used only the starchy center, what he referred to as “the sweetheart of the corn,” personified on boxes by a farm girl clutching a freshly picked sheaf. This served to lengthen significantly the amount of time Corn Flakes could sit in warehouses or on grocers’ shelves but compromised the vitamins housed in the germ and the fiber residing in the bran”
This is a very familiar story in the world of food processing; Warner covers, nicely, the same processes occurring with cheese and with milk, among other things.
I ended my 2013 post with these words:
Skip breakfast if you want.
If you want to eat breakfast, feel free to eat eggs or full-fat dairy (including butter).
These foods are nutrient-dense and do not increase your risk of heart disease, even if you have high cholesterol.
You will be less hungry and can eat less throughout the day than if you were eating sugar-laden, highly processed food-like substances.
At the time, this seemed like horribly contrarian advice, but in the last year and a half, more and more authorities are agreeing with these concepts.