Granola Wars

(Published in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)


Clip of humor column--Granola Wars

The sixties were a harrowing time for those of us who were just coming of age. There was war, social upheaval, moral confusion — and all that other stuff you’ve heard about ad nauseum.

We emerged from the experience grim and sober, with a few rock-hard convictions that would shape the rest of our lives:

1.War is yucky.

2. Blue jeans are OK for all social occasions.

3. Processed foods are bad.

This last one I thought would be easy to transmit to our kids. After all, hadn’t we lived through the horrors of the TV-Dinner era, when veal cutlets and creamed peas were the order of the day? Hadn’t we found enlightenment in the form of natural foods, free of preservatives, stabilizers and additives?

There is scarcely a food product on the market today that doesn’t bear the words “natural,” “whole grain,” or “no preservatives.” Chalk that up to our gritty determination back in the trenches of the culture wars—and to some marketing directors who knew what 50 million baby boomers could do for their business.

Now, decades away from that crucible which defined a generation, these values are lost on my children. They scorn my taste for granola and whole wheat bread. In fact, they have an attraction for junk food that is downright perverse.

Kids have a supernatural ability to sense nutritional value in food, and they reject it immediately. Rather, they are pulled inexorably toward the weird, the schlocky, the over-processed. Meanwhile, the corporate food giants that gave us Spaghetti-O’s and Cocoa Puffs are still at it, churning out new products for their new victims. And the kids, like their parents before them, gobble it up.

I try to subvert the whole process by stealth: “Don’t you want to try some of this new Vita-Grano-Crunchola cereal I got? It’s just like your Choco-Whistles, which we happen to be out of.”

They look at me as if I’m covered with running sores.

I have finally accepted reality and learned to swim with the current. “Look,” I tell them, as I place some new food in front of them, “This has NO nutritional value! In fact, it will actually SUCK vitamins and minerals from your body!”

They pause to consider this intriguing new thought.

It seems to be working so far. But I know I’ll have to come up with something better soon.

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