I’ve seen some criticism of organic cereals because many of them are not fortified with multiple vitamins and minerals, as are many conventionally-produced cereals, and children need the vitamins. Given the dietary habits of many American children, is this a serious issue? Consider this: Cereals are fortified to supply what refined grains have stripped away in the first place. You can solve that problem by serving whole-grain organic cereals (see my article on whole grain cereals).
Second, a bowl of organic cereal will probably not be the only food your child eats all day. Because of that, it shouldn’t be a tragedy if your child’s organic cereal doesn’t contain a significant percentage of his or her daily requirement of a particular vitamin or mineral, especially because there are ways to remedy this situation at the same meal—for example, with fruit and milk (dairy or soy), orange juice, etc. Some parents actually prefer that the cereals not be fortified. In choosing products notable for what they don’t contain (artificial preservatives, artificial colors, etc.), these parents prefer that synthesized nutrients also be omitted from their children’s food.
Maybe we’re putting the cart before the horse here. In an environment of power marketing to children, will you even be able to get your kids to eat organic cereal? While not everything can compete against cultural icons converted into children’s breakfast cereals, some organic cereals are definitely geared toward children. For instance, Health Valley Xtreme Fun Chocolate Blast’ems and Xtreme Fun Cherry Lemon Orange Blast’ems are deliberate organic competition for conventionally-produced kids’ cereals. As it happens, both are nutritionally fortified—but both are also whole grain cereals and contain 30% less sugar than their conventional counterparts, according to the Health Valley website. Similarly, there’s the Earth’s Best Sesame Street cereal line, which has an instant oatmeal in two varieties, as well as two flavors of “On-The-Go O’s,” a cold cereal. Again, these are vitamin-and-mineral-fortified, and an emphasis is placed on the fact that they’re an excellent source of whole grains.
Organic brands like Cascadian Farm have licensed characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog (below), to compete against regular kids’ brands like SpongeBob Squarepants Cereal, from Kellogg’s.
Erewhon produces Maple Spice and Apple Cinnamon organic instant oatmeals, both flavors beloved by kids, but each with only 4 grams of sugar per serving. Clifford Crunch (as in, Clifford the Big Red Dog) is an offering from Cascadian Farm (owned by General Mills), along with Honey Nut O’s and Purely O’s. According to the company, Clifford Crunch is “the first organic cereal made specifically for kid nutrition.”
These are just some of the “competitive” kids’ cereals. So, mom and dad, you have [organic] choices.
Cereal: The All-Day Meal & Snack
In 2003, some young entrepreneurs founded the Cereality Cereal Bar & Café, a new concept in the quick service restaurant (fast food) space, that has created a unique and entertaining experience around the American ritual of eating cereal. No longer a breakfast food, patrons can have their cereal morning, noon and night, customizing their bowl (or actually, paper carton) from more than 30 cereal varieties and 40 toppings and mix-in combinations, plus assorted milks. The decor is “home kitchen” and the cereals are prepared by pajama-clad Cereologists. At least three similar concepts have launched, in different parts of the country. The tiny chain (seven units) was acquired in 2007 by Kahala Cold Stone, owner of Blimpie, Cold Stone Creamery and other concepts, and promptly received 7,000 inquires about franchises. As many cereal lovers know, cereal should not be thought of as simply breakfast food...and perhaps in a few years, cereal cafes will be a ubiquitous as...(O.K., we’re not going to say it just in case thoughts come true).
The comforting bowl of cereal is now a comforting Chinese-food carton of cereal. If the number of franchise inquiries is any indication, there could be a cereal café on every corner one of these days.
Yes, cereal can be a satisfying snack any time of the day. A heartier cereal can even be the basis for your lunch or dinner; a whole grain, higher-fiber cereal, especially a hot one, can really fill you up.