Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is Kashi Clean?

It seems to be a running comment on the state of nutrition in America. I've been hearing this phrase a lot recently, and it both makes me happy and terrifies me at the same time...

" I eat healthy. I love Kashi's products and eat them every day!"

     The Kashi company started in 1983 when a California couple mixed some various whole grains together in an attempt to make a whole grain cold cereal for themselves. Their "Breakfast pilaf" wasn't an overnight success, but it started to gain a following. From there, a variety of Clean products were introduced. There is an excellent article about the Kashi company and its founding over at / Kashi. Very interesting how the rise of Kashi goes hand in hand with the rise of Whole Foods Market!

     However, what is important to us is the company, now. Did you know Kellogg's now owns Kashi? That's right, they were bought in 2000 by Kellogg's when Kellogg's recognized it needed to position itself in the organic and natural marketplace. On their website, they contend they operate independently from Kellogg's and just use their distribution net. I honestly don't know the veracity of this; it could be perfectly true. However, I do know how most "kept" companies operate ( companies that appear to operate independently but actually have a larger corporate backer )  and a lot of them are actually what can dismissively be referred to as "Marionette" companies - someone else is in control. Just a reminder, Kellogg's is the fine company that gave the world Pop*Tarts, Eggo, Keebler, and *sniff* Cheez-Its. Kellogg's owns Kashi. They will do what it takes to keep the brand positioned as the "healthy" alternative while maximizing profits.

Is Kashi Clean? 

You need to take each product individually. Their "core" products - those that founded the company? Clean.

7 Grain Pilaf: Clean
7 Whole Grains breakfast cereals ( Flakes, nuggets, puffs ) : Clean

Those products that have been added to the Kashi line since they were acquired by Kellogg's 2000?  
Largely unclean : frozen entrees and breakfasts, snack bars, and dessert-y items like cookies.

A notable exception to the "new products being Unclean" statement: the TLC whole grain crackers. They are Clean.

 Bottom line, you need look at the ingredient list for each item you purchase, and decide whether or not that item is Clean. Most of the products you'll find have a few too many ingredients for most Clean Eater's tastes. However, your version of Clean Eating might be different than mine, and that is ok. But know that Kashi adds sugars to many of their products, often from multiple natural sources. Check out this pic of the ingredient panel for one of their snack bars:

Ingredients #2, 3, 4 are sugar. 2nd ingredient in the "cookie" portion of the bar? Sugar. 3rd ingredient in the cereal portion of the bar? Sugar. Ingredients #12 and #13? Um, wait - let me guess...sugar?

Is Kashi Clean? Overall - a resounding no, with some notable exceptions that are an excellent resource for the Clean Eater.

Is Kashi better than a lot of the "regular" processed food out there? Yes.

Are there cleaner options than Kashi? Yes.

Don't believe the hype. Marketing has led us to believe Kashi = healthy. It's all part of Kellogg's big advertising machine, selling America a bowlful of expensive sugar, wrapped in a healthy looking package.As always : Be careful. Read labels. Question what you are seeing, what you are reading, what you are hearing.