May 9, 2013

Kudos to Kashi? Not! ~ Chellie Gardiner

I saw a notice in the grocery store the other day posted by Kashi with an apology and an explanation to their customers.

The notice explained their discovery that some of their suppliers were using GMOs. Therefore, they were pulling the affected products from the shelves until they could solve this horrible problem. I thought, “Kudos to Kashi! What a responsible thing to do!”

Instead of being called out like some wretchedly self-interested, dirty, money grubbing politician, they said, “There is a problem here. We are accepting full responsibility for it, informing you of it, and pulling the product from the shelves to protect you from this sneaky supplier.” All of this was an affirmation that I was buying products from one of the few “good guy” companies left.

I had been persuaded by their commercials that they really did go to the ends of the earth to find delicious and healthy ingredients to make into food for me and my family. I, like a huge number of other people, willingly paid a good deal more for Kashi products, based on the idea that their products were an organic, better tasting choice than those offered by other companies.

I believed that I could have a serving of convenience with my organic food.

They had dozens of tasty looking products that were no trouble to make and a great healthy choice. After seeing this communique, I went out of my way to pick up a few other Kashi products, both to reward them for their good behavior and to help sustain them through, what I thought, would be tough times–because they took the high road.

Since then, without any changes, they have put the same product back on the shelves. They posted a video on social media “starring” some lady who was obviously and poorly reading from cue cards. The boiled down version of the video was that they have some foods that are organic and GMO free, and the rest are not. The consumer comments in response to the video showed very clearly that those who viewed it were less than placated.

Kashi then had their general manager, David DeSouza do a video. His performance seemed to be just that, a performance. While wearing a giant, phony smile, he sniveled about there not being enough organic foods available for them to buy. He said they had to resort to non-organic and GMO ingredients and that things would be better by 2014.

There was some sanctimonious protesting that every product was well within USDA guidelines. USDA guidelines?! Oh, well I feel much safer now. We all totally trust our government these days, right?

Kashi has become the Tiger Woods of the organic market.

Millions of us switched to organic foods because we didn’t trust the food supply regulated by the USDA in the first place. It had become corrupted by too many ingredients we couldn’t pronounce. Too many things sounded like a laboratory experiment rather than a farm harvest. Some sounded like they didn’t even come from this planet.

The companies that made these products had become an invisible “they”, not someone we knew and trusted, so we started buying from the little upstarts that had a new idea. The new idea was to go back to the old ideas–back to the basics of our great grandparents. Kashi was one of these companies.

It seems, however that they have fallen away from the original mission. When Kashi published these videos, they accomplished exactly the opposite of their intended goal. They shone a spotlight on a company that seemed far more interested in ass-covering than anything else. They became, through their own actions, a corporation to whom we were dollar signs rather than people.

Because they portrayed themselves as the “good guys” that we could all look up to and trust, when they failed us, the backlash was instant and is becoming monumental. It seems they have fallen far and hard. It will be interesting to see what happens next. I, for one, will be buying someone else’s Seven Whole Grains because I no longer believe Kashi is true to their mission.

Bonus video below of Kashi’s statement:


Chellie Gardiner: Slightly crazy, usually happy, type A, funny, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, friend, lover, animal advocate, Mary Kay consultant, foodie, bookworm, writer, artist, beginning blogger, kicking cancer’s ass.



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Assistant ed: Catherine Monkman

Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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