I grew up seeing the cereal aisle as normal. Shelf after shelf of boxes, all colorful, with a nutrition label on the side, some game or distraction on the back, a plastic bag inside a cardboard box, and a few companies making them. Inside them were things I didn’t think to ask where they came from or what they were made of. It just seemed normal to me to see things puffed up into circles, hoops, or alphabet letters; flakes; crunchy nuggets; shredded I-don’t-know-what; and so on.
Looking back, I see them as far removed from nature. But since supermarkets seemed normal and the aisle was in every supermarket, and everyone bought them, they seemed normal.
At some point, maybe graduate school, I switched to plain rolled oats, to which I added fruit for flavor, which ended up more flavorful than the boxed cereal. I still didn’t know what an oat looked like, but at least I knew not to buy the instant ones. I sometimes cooked them, but eventually learned I didn’t have to, so didn’t go through the trouble of cooking them. They tasted fine just soaking milk, later soymilk or some other plant milk, and later just water. I learned to add nuts too.
I’d heard of something called steel-cut oats, but didn’t try them because I heard they took a long time to cook. Then I learned the pressure cooker cooked them faster. I liked the variety, lower cost, and texture but not the extra work.
In the past few years, I learned I could just soak the steel-cut oats in water overnight. Then I learned I could soak overnight wheat berries, farro seeds, buckwheat, kamut, and other grains the coop sells in bulk. They get interesting texture that I prefer to anything boxed. They look like the grain they come from, or rather that they are. In the past few weeks, I noticed the coop sells whole oats, uncut. I understand they are as nutritional as grains get. I tried soaking them overnight and they work too.
For all those years buying into the fiction that boxed cereals are normal or healthy, I feel stupid. I should have known they were just processed junk, also known as doof, but I didn’t question the twisted reality the manufacturers succeeded in pulling me into. Instead, I wondered how ancient people ate grains, figuring they needed a lot of cooking to make.
Buying Wheaties instead of wheat berries or Cheerios instead of oats is just throwing my health and money out the window for a company to profit from lowering my health. On top of stupid, I feel used.
I can’t change the past, but I can relish my discovery that I can eat grains cheaper, healthier, more convenient, and less polluting than the boxes I used to consider normal. Anyone can now that anyone can buy them online, though if you don’t have a coop near you, you’re probably throwing time and money out the window so recommend doing what my family did growing up since we lacked time and money and saving each by helping start a coop.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees