Three Meals With General Mills

June 14, 2013

Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Minneapolis to tour the General Mills headquarters. I didn’t think twice when I accepted the trip – I am passionate about learning about all things related to the food industry – from farms like Polyface and Twin Oaks to large and historic brands like Quaker and now General Mills. I wanted to see what the company had to offer, from both a food and corporate perspective.

Thus, I joined Emilie from Baby Loving Mama, Jenn of Fit Bottomed Girls and my BFF Caitlin (and Henry and Kristien!) for a 24-hour speed visit of General Mills.

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Not long after Mazen started eating Cheerios I got an email from Erin at General Mills: “Would you like to come up to Minneapolis for a visit?” I responded that I was breastfeeding so traveling alone wasn’t really an option right now, and she asked if I wanted to bring Mazen and Matt along too. This was the first sign that General Mills would be one of the most hospitable companies I’ve worked with. They made absolutely everything about traveling and working with a baby in tow as easy as possible – from the entire room they stocked with diapers, toys, cribs and baby food to the complete flexibility I had to nurse at any time during our visit.

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It was so nice to finally meet Henry and get to hang with Caitlin in person. We do far too much digital talking to go this long without spending time together in person! Henry is the cutest! He waves

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This post doesn’t go into detail about all the company is doing for public health, its efforts to increase whole grains and decrease sugar in all of its kids cereals or the work put into making the entire Chex line gluten-free. You can read more about those here. Having talked to many of the team members in charge, General Mills is very modest about all of the improvements it has made with the main goal to “do the right thing.” As with any company, large or small, I’m sure some of you could find issues with General Mills. Whether or not you want to eat General Mills’ cereal is up to you. We in our family eat the cereals with the lowest sugar and simplest ingredient lists. Not all of the General Mills brands are ones I would choose to buy, but I love Cascadian Farm, Food Should Taste Good chips, Larabar and several other of the “crunchy” ones.

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So instead of sharing facts, I’m going to go back to KERF’s old style and share the three delicious meals we enjoyed during our stay – cereal included!

Dinner

After a long morning of traveling, we headed to the Mill Museum to learn about the cereal making process and grain industry, taste-testing included. Mazen loved that part : )

For dinner, we headed to Spoonriver, a farm-to-table restaurant next door, and were greeted by the owner herself – award winning chef and restaurateur Brenda Langton. Brenda greeted us warmly and left us to taste away.

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Mazen and Henry were good sports entertained by the menu and Cheerios

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I sipped on a malbec with my meal – juicy!

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We were served an incredible loaf of warm bread. I think Matt and I were must enthusiastic.

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Our group shared one of each of the appetizers…

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…everything from an Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon salad to a Savory Wild Mushroom and Pistachio Terrine {like a mushroom loaf} to a Soba Noodle Salad. Everything was great – surprise garnishes included.

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Matt chose a Minnesota grass-fed flank steak for dinner, and the presentation and flavor combination was outstanding. I loved all the little complements to the steak – micro greens, roasted roots, asparagus, broccoli, parmesan.

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But my Arctic Char stole the show. It was perrrrfectly cooked and served with a peach and blackberry salsa {on the side}, micro greens, asparagus and lentil pilaf. I loved every single bite! The portion was perfect too.

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Sadly we had to miss the dessert course because the babies were tired, but I hear it was wonderful. Our stay in Minneapolis was way too short – I would have loved to taste around more!

Breakfast

After a surprisingly good night’s rest in our cozy downtown hotel, we traveled outside of the city to the General Mills headquarters where breakfast was waiting in the famous Betty Crocker room. Cereal anyone!?

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In addition, we were served a foodie’s dream of yogurt, berries, toppings, muffins, chia seed pudding (!) and more.

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I had Cheerios and Kix with a few Lucky Charms for old time’s sake. Plus berries, pudding, a muffin made with Fiber One and lots of coffee!

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Mazen loved the baby pouches ready for him, with a big serving of Cheerios, of course, and fresh fruit

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Our daytime was spent touring the facilities and chatting about blogging, food, trends and more with the head honchos.

Caitlin wrote a great post on women’s issues and talked about the on-site daycare, nursing rooms, and maternity/paternity leave. We both agreed that should we ever want to go back to working full time, this company would be the place to do it. The campus was gorgeous – it included a salon, bank, doctor’s office and more – and I imagine the quality of work-life is high. I’m not sure how well I’d do in Minneapolis winters though…

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The gorgeous Betty Crocker test kitchens. There was a huge retractable shade that came down for beautiful diffused natural light. I would love to spend a day cooking in there!

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My favorite part of our tour was the food photography studio and prop room. General Mills takes all of their photos in house, and the studios and test kitchens were incredibly impressive!

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Pick a color!

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Lunch

General Mills got word that we loved vegetables and put together a delectable lunch for our final meal.

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Kales and greens, roasted vegetables, Brussels sprouts with lemon, gingered-shitake quinoa, roasted Yukon potatoes, chicken salad cups with Chex for crunch and cereal-crusted organic chicken. I loved the Chex-coated chicken! What a clever idea for breading.

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Desserts incorporated cereal too – Triple-Berry Cheesecakes with a Cinnamon Chex crust and Cereal + Milk Panna Cotta with Cocoa Puffs and Peanut Butter Cheerios on top.

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Mazen had a great time playing with everyone and chowing down

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The baby room was equipped with everything we could possibly need. Unfortunately Mazen and Henry napped way too much so they didn’t get as much playing in. They had prepared crafts for the babies – play dough and necklace making and the only person who got to participate was Matt during a naptime.

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Lucky Maze, his dad made him a Cheerios necklace while he was sleeping.

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Thank you to General Mills for the opportunity to learn!

Disclosure: My trip was paid for by General Mills but I received no monetary compensation for writing this post. Thanks to Paul Market for all of the great photos!

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{ 122 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laurie June 14, 2013 at 8:13 am

What an awesome trip! The way they accomodated the babies looked unbelievable…Everything looked delicious. What is your take on the Chia pudding? Any recipe suggestions :)

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2 Silvia @ skinny jeans food June 14, 2013 at 8:29 am

Cheerios necklace? How practical. I need a donut necklace, though. :-)

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3 Shel@PeachyPalate June 14, 2013 at 8:37 am

Wow!!! What gorgeous food! I’m totally jealous of that range of dishes!!! Love that the three of you got to go and enjoy the experience!

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4 Madison @ Espresso an Creamm June 14, 2013 at 8:39 am

So glad you enjoyed your trip to General Mills, Kath! It was wonderful to finally meet you, Matt and Mazen in person. And Matt provided some great feedback at my taste panel. :)

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5 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats June 14, 2013 at 8:40 am

I loved Caitlin’s post about GM as well. They seem like a really great company and I LOVE that they make Chex (gluten free) although this post definitely made me miss Lucky Charms!

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6 Salinya June 14, 2013 at 8:44 am

I just found your blog through 100 Days of Real Food. I’ve really enjoyed looking through your posts.

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7 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 8:46 am

Welcome!

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8 Lynn @ the actor's diet June 14, 2013 at 9:03 am

Amazing – I love seeing where my favorite foods from childhood are made. Cheerios forever!

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9 Lizzi Stremke June 14, 2013 at 9:04 am

Long time reader, but not a frequent comment-er! I LOVED this post. I am going back to school for my second bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and have been thinking about what area I’d like to work in after graduation. I was curious if you ever worked in the food industry (outside of the bakery) before or did you do more clinical work? I have shadowed a few RDs and enjoy the clinical aspect of nutrition but I keep loving the public health and food side. I would love to hear your preferences on if you prefer clinical or food industry work!

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10 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 9:08 am

I didn’t work in the food industry. I think it would be awesome to work for a company – but only if you really believed in the products. I don’t think I’d want to tamper with preservatives and things trying to get the texture right in a new food, but doing something classic – like Cheerios – or working for a company like Stonyfield Yogurt would be my dream food industry job. I really liked clinical too though – it was so rewarding. And of course my goal was to go into private practices, but that has its own pros and cons. So many options!

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11 Sars June 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Interesting! What would you be doing, like with Cheerios, or at Stoneyfield Farms, in your dream job? Creating new flavors or perfecting the nutrition, or what?

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12 Sydney @ Trust the Skinny Cook June 14, 2013 at 9:18 am

Wow! This post has really changed my conception of General Mills. I used to automatically think “sugar-laden cereals” when I heard the name, but now I know that they are so much more! I actually had no idea they owned Larabar, Cascadian Farm, etc. And the way they value families is just fantastic. Thanks for opening up our eyes and reminding us that there are some positive things going on in the food industry,

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13 Susan H @ The Food Allergy Chronicles June 14, 2013 at 9:20 am

It makes me so happy to see companies like General Mills creating products to meet the needs of their consumers…lower sugar content and gluten-free. If only gluten-free cereals were more available 17 years ago for my little guy who never grew up chomping on cereals like all his friends. Oh how I would love to have been able to check out all those great props…and to cook in that kitchen! :)

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14 kyla June 14, 2013 at 9:21 am

I bet you were in heaven with all of those dishes! and that test kitchen! swoon.

Minneapolis would be really cold, but it was ranked America’s healthiest city. The winter would be made up for the fact that there are a ton of outdoor activities to do!

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15 Claire June 14, 2013 at 9:22 am

First time commenter, but I just HAD to – you were in my neck of the woods! Happy to hear you went to Spoonriver and enjoyed it. I’ve been there a few times and its just great – have a copy of Brenda’s cookbook and I just love it. Hopefully you are able to get back to Mpls/St Paul again, there are tons of great places to eat and lots of things to do…even in the cold winters :)

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16 Alan June 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

That sounds like a great trip. That cereal bar reminds me of some restaurants that have popped up in college towns and looks awesome.

I am happy to see GM making such an effort for public health as well as providing a work environment for EVERYONE. I don’t know if you know, Kath, but they are also very supportive of schools by the “boxtops for education” program. Granted–they profit from all products sold and contribute back a small amount, but they really don’t have to. As the BT4E coordinator in my school, I think they should get some kudos for that too. (Target does something similar–maybe it’s the Minnesota air?)

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17 Denise June 14, 2013 at 9:49 am

Can’t support General Mills unfortunately. They use GMO’s in their products (including Cheerios) and their CEO is opposed to labeling GMO products. They donated a lot of money to oppose the labeling initiative in California. It’s too bad because they have some great products otherwise.

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18 Amy June 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

Same here. It’s really disappointing to see a large, influential company like GM be opposed to something that’s so crucial to our health, especially since so many of their products are aimed at kids. Reducing sugar is a good step, sure, but if it’s sugar derived from genetically modified sugar beets — and that information’s not available to consumers — then there’s still a long, long way to go.

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19 Ella P June 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Europe has had Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods regulation since 1993.

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20 Christine Hazad June 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Same here! My family and I won’t eat their products. I am hoping with new laws all food will soon be GMO free.

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21 Rachael June 14, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Ditto on General Mills and their stance on GMO labeling.. sad because I am a Minneapolis native and have grown up with their products. Now I no longer support them if I can help it! I actually almost worked for them right out of college too!

Kath, you totally have to come back up here and try more of the amazing restaurants that Minneapolis is known for!

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22 Betty June 15, 2013 at 12:11 am

Many major food companies are against GMO labeling because it would drive up food costs. Especially if labeling legislation is decided on a state by state basis. Think about this for a second, if California would have passed GMO labeling, any company selling food in CA would have to specially label GMO foods in that state. Additionally, there is a major cost for the state to implement and monitor a program to insure compliance of companies to this law. We’re talking major increase in food prices, which can cripple the lower and middle classes. It’s a business decision more than a “moral” one.

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23 Maree June 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I don’t see now a prevalence of GMO-laden food is a good long-term business decision. Have you priced health care lately?

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24 S.P. Gass June 16, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I’m not an expert on GMO foods but I wouldn’t think labeling would be too expensive. I don’t remember price increases when they started listing trans fats a few years ago. And it seems like if they require putting “contains sulfites” on wine (which most people don’t care about) why not put Gmo labelling on food when lots of people do want to know?

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25 Kara June 19, 2013 at 6:30 am

Food companies have no problems with labeling costs when it’s a marketing ploy (gluten free! Low fat! Reduced sugar!) you must live in California where Big Ag has been pushing this type of fear mongering in the media. It isn’t true, food costs won’t go up. The food companies just don’t want us to know how many GMO ingredients they are using. It’s interesting (and scary) how well the Big Ag lobby’s advertising works. People really believe it. Amazing.

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26 Katie August 23, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Just so everyone is clear, GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. We have been “genetically modifying” since prehistoric man discovered farming. Any time you replant seeds from your more desirable plants, you are naturally selecting for the more desirable plants i.e. genetically modifying your food. There are plenty of things to be worried about when it comes to nutrition, but genetically modified organisms is not one of them. It is a scary term for a practice that is almost as old as we humans are. And by the way, in case anyone is worried about my credentials, I graduated medical school last year so I would say that I have a pretty strong background in health sciences.

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27 Katie August 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm

And by the way, by picking a spouse with desirable traits and hoping that your biologically children will receive some of those desirable traits, you are purposefully genetically modifying your children. That is definitely a practice as old as human life.

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28 Grace June 14, 2013 at 9:51 am

This post is so interesting. I’m really glad to hear that General Mills is reaching out (in a big way! royal treatment) to slow food and health bloggers. I’m thrilled to hear their teams are working on making lower sugar products. And, it certainly can’t hurt for big companies to show it’s possible to be profitable and family friendly. Loved this post, thanks.

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29 hyedi June 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

Spoonriver is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Mpls — Brenda used to have another restaurant that was excellent also (Cafe Brenda). You should do brunch at Spoonriver next time you’re in town!

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30 Kristi June 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

Hey Kath,
I have a question about the business aspect of blogging. If you don’t get compensated for writing a post like this then what’s your incentive for taking the trip? Your trip to Africa with Lipton was obviously a trip of a lifetime but traveling this time around with a baby is pretty tough including the adjustment back to daily routine, time zone changes, etc. Also, did Matt have to take off work to attend? Just curious how these types of PR trips benefit bloggers (I see how it benefits GM). I do buy GM products from time to time and the facility looks really nice but seems like a big production on your end for a factory tour. Sorry if this is nosey I’m just curious. Thanks!

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31 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 11:43 am

You are absolutely right – I should have asked for some compensation for my time. Matt did take off work, and the trip and post took a lot of time. I just wasn’t on my game at the time, and also felt that by flying Matt and things they were investing a lot, so I didn’t ask. Blogging is turning away from being a public relations thing and more towards advertising and marketing departments as bloggers realize their time’s worth and their influence.

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32 MC June 15, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Would it be typical to ask for compensation when being comped something, be it a race entrance, plane ticket, etc.? I’ve always figured that the trip itself was considered compensation, with the post/review being the blogger’s side of the arrangement. Otherwise it could be read as paying off a blogger, right? I’m guessing there can be a lot of gray areas with this stuff sometimes.

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33 KathEats June 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Because the way brands interact is changing it is becoming more common for these sponsorships to be paid.

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34 Lauren @ The Highlands Life June 14, 2013 at 10:44 am

What a fantastic trip and way to find out about these big companies that our children will be eating some of their food from. Thanks for letting us perk into your trip.

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35 Julia June 14, 2013 at 10:48 am

I think it is wonderful that General Mills is doing positive things for HRs policies on maternity leave etc, and adding new foods such a gluten free items. HOWEVER GM is one of the main reasons the USA does require GMO labeling on foods. And almost all of their non-organic foods include GMOs. I know you are such a great advocate for other envirnomental food issues and for inspiring others to eat well, etc, I think it would behoove you to show your readers the dangerous of GMO foods on your body, the environment and food industry. http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/04/30/general-mills-ceo-gmos

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36 Charlie June 16, 2013 at 8:08 pm

She may be hard pressed to find actual science that supports your concerns. Hundreds of independent studies spanning over multiple decades have led the experts on the subject to conclude that GMOs are perfectly safe.

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37 Angela June 17, 2013 at 3:04 am

Do you have links to any of these hundreds of studies? I highly doubt there have been some done spanning multiple decades since commercial sale of genetically modified foods didn’t even begin until 1994.

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38 Angelica June 14, 2013 at 10:50 am

I love that Cheerios necklace–now it’s on my kiddie crafts list. BUT you had me at “on-site daycare”! I would be back at work in a second if this was a more common practice. I hope the idea spreads!

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39 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) June 14, 2013 at 10:52 am

Sounds like an amazing trip! Thank you for sharing your experience! Seriously though, that kitchen is a dream! I would love to work there!

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40 Carly @ Snack Therapy June 14, 2013 at 11:27 am

That cereal buffet is calling my name. I’ve heard some great things about GM and the things they’re doing to create healthy yet affordable products!

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41 Mom June 14, 2013 at 11:41 am

LOVE the Betty Crocker room with the portraits!! I remember being around eight when my mother told me that Betty Crocker wasn’t a real person. Still makes me kind of sad.

Looks like a great trip, and I’m especially pleased the babies had such a good time.

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42 Lexi June 14, 2013 at 11:48 am

I started following your blog last summer because our babies are about the same age :) My son was born the last week of August, so I have loved following your family during Mazen’s first year! I’ve gotten so many tips from you. We are in the throes of sleep training right now, and it’s been very motivating to hear about all of the great nights of sleep you’ve been getting lately ;)

Anyway, I had to comment today because I live in Minneapolis and was so excited to hear you came for a visit! I haven’t been to Spoonriver, I will have to check it out. Another great farm to table restaurant is Heartland Restaurant in St. Paul…YUM!

We get a bad rap in MN because of our winters (which really can be brutal!) but we have SO many good things going on up here! XC skiing in the winter, Farmer’s Markets, great restaurants, paths for walking/running/biking ALL over the city, and beautiful lakes galore!

I’m so happy you enjoyed your visit! Come again soon!

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43 Emily June 14, 2013 at 11:56 am

We love plain and cinnamon chex in our gluten free house. We also make cereal crusted chicken all the time–chex or crushed up Rice Krispies. Either nuggets, cutlets, or on the bone. Thanks for sharing this.

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44 Amy June 14, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I gotta say … I think “three meals with General Mills” is an odd juxtaposition underneath the banner above proclaiming that Kath eats REAL FOOD (emphasis yours). I know we all make different food choices and make exceptions once in a while, but no one keeps jars of preservatives or bags of GMOs in their kitchens, you know? What exactly IS real food, then, if Lucky Charms apparently counts? Anything we can put in our mouths and swallow? I thought the whole premise of your blog used to be that you DIDN’T eat processed stuff like this. (Take your recent guest post for 100 days of real food — I don’t see Cheerios on their blog at all, and for good reason.) Has your food philosophy changed in recent years?

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45 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm

My blog has NEVER been about eating only real food. I think that would be too restricting. I focus on buying, cooking and growing real food and tasting other things as part of the human experience. I haven’t had Lucky Charms in 20 years – so I think that’s a pretty good track record for the 80/20 or 90/10 lifestyle. Also, it’s not like I ate exclusively cereal while I was there. There was plenty of real food on my plates, and I also made a point not to eat some of the food that was offered that was perhaps less natural than others.

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46 Allison June 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

As someone who has been reading your blog since 2008–what?! What is your blog about if not about eating real food? It’s the name of your website. Even your bylaws page says, “Products should always fit within my ‘eat real food’ (or pretty darn close to it) theme.” Glad you had a good time in Minneapolis, but I am super confused by this statement.

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47 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm

KERF has always aimed to answer the question “How do you eat real food?” through photography in a real life setting. I think I did a good job answering that question in this post.

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48 Brenda June 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm

All due respect, Kath, but I think people are just trying to express confusion on HOW gmo foods are “real food”. Perhaps they aren’t as “real” to you as most of the food you eat. I’m assuming that’s what you mean by the 80/20 or 90/10 lifestyle? But there’s a difference between eating a “real” great, like homemade pie and ice cream, and eating a non-real “healthy” food like GMO, refined GM cereal. One of those things fits in your Real Food lifestyle as you portray it, and one does not. Unfortunately simply saying “this fits my outlook” does not make it so, and your readers (myself included) are confused.

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49 Sara June 14, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Geez, she has a few bites of Lucky Charms and everyone jumps down her throat?! Lighten up people. Do all of you only eat 100% “real” food 100% of the time?

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50 Stephanie June 14, 2013 at 4:13 pm

There are plenty of blogs that feature real food without being restrictive, for example those that are focused on “traditional” type eating as described in the book Nourishing Traditions. I understand the idea of balance, but it seems like your definition of “real” food is a moving target, more so now that your blog style has changed and you are focused on developing brand relations and sponsorships.

Since your family owns a small business and strives to support other local small businesses, I’m surprised you would partner with (if partner is too strong a word, then accept a gifted trip from) a megacorporation like GM. It seems so counter to what you’ve espoused in the past. I mean no harm from my comments; I’m just trying to figure out if I’m misunderstanding your posts or if your philosophy is evolving and I’m just not getting it. :)

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51 Sars June 16, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I think the part that is most incongruous is that we would expect Kath to buy say, Trader Joe’s O’s cereal, or something from Whole Foods, but this strong support and frequent brand mentioning of Cheerios seems out of place on KERF. It leaves me to wonder, at least, if GM hadn’t offered to to fly you and the family out and compensate your meals and such, would you be advertising Cheerios so much in your posts? It’s a chicken or the egg concept- which came first, you naturally preferring Cheerios over Joe’s O’s or a Whole Foods brand of O cereal for your baby, and coincidently getting an offer for compensation from GM, or the offer from GM and so that lead you to advertise this particular brand of cereal? It’s sort of like the Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry juice. You very, very rarely drink that and yet you dedicated an entire post on it because they compensated you for it. It’s not like it was already a big part of your diet and you just wanted to share this great find with your readers. This is what is causes the discomfort for some of your very loyal audience. <3

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52 KathEats June 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Yes, this. I understand your sentiments completely. It’s challenging to balance decisions with a blog as a business, a platform, and an extension of oneself. Sometimes you just have to take a risk, and not everyone will support every post.

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53 Meg June 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

The food looked great! Lots of fruits and vegetables in addition to GM product. I think this says a lot about GM, to be honest. Part of a balanced lifestyle and all that jazz :) Being a healthy “real” eater encompasses being “real” in your approach. I think it was clear in this post that some foods are closer to clean than others (e.g., discussions about the length of ingredient lists). I really appreciated this post, and think it provides insights into a big company making steps to get closer to real. Props!

Question: Were Lucky Charms as good as you remembered? :)

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54 Karen June 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Yes…GM is well known for it’s work-life balance policies and for that they deserve much praise. But, I too was wondering re. whether you probed re. their policy on GMO labeling, as I am sure you were aware of this controversy or at least conducted some background research prior to accepting the invite.

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55 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

It came up in our conversations and they are more than aware of the need for change. I think it’s just a lot easier said than done and would be a big undertaking. Not saying they can’t do it!

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56 Karen June 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Fair enough…sounds as though they are at least reconsidering their position to-date and so I guess that’s a start.

Happy weekend, Kath! :)

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57 Farah June 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Hi Kath – I’m curious to know what you thought of the Chia pudding too. I can’t quite get past the look & texture to try it – tho I’ve heard it’s great.

ALso – will GM be making any other cereals gluten -free (I’m GF so really curious)? Is Kix GF and will they bring out a GF version of Cheerios?
Thanks!

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58 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

It was on the bland side, but since I love the texture of chia, I loved it. I’m not sure of the future of those cereals being GF. I doubt Cheerios, but again, not sure.

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59 Farah June 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Thanks!

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60 Erin June 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Kath – here’s the recipe: In a medium bowl, stir together 2 1/2 cups almond milk and 1/2 cup chia seeds. Let stand at least 15 minutes or up to 12 hours until chia seeds have expanded and absorbed most of the milk. Top each serving with toasted almonds, agave nectar, raw coconut flakes, cocoa nibs or fresh berries.

Enjoy!

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61 s June 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Since you are in good with GM folks… Perhaps an open conversation to why they need to GMO ingrediants in everything? Please. It would be great to see a HUGE co. like them be the first. Thanks for reading.

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62 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm

We actually did talk about this on our trip and they are definitely HOPING to move in this direction, but for a company of their size in an industry that big, you can imagine that it’s not a snap your fingers solution. They stressed that they want to “do the right thing” but it’s not something that can happen overnight. From what I gathered, it’s definitely on their to-do list.

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63 Sars June 14, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Can you explain the GMO issue a bit more? I seem to remember your husband had written about GMOs a few months ago, that they weren’t really problematic, or that everything we eat is technically a GMO and most people don’t realize that, so why pick on this ingredient, or that ingredient. Why is GM hoping to move in this direction, of GMO free ingredients? For health reasons? Environmental? Economic? I think it is so great you were given this opportunity to really have your finger on the pulse of such a huge organization, so please, share! :)

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64 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Here’s a link to that comment from Matt (#112). (He is describing the difference between gene spicing in a lab, which is new, verses the natural selective breeding of plants by farmers, which has been going on since agriculture came about.) I don’t feel qualified enough to speak on GMOs in detail, but the concerns are the unknown impacts on all of the above – environment, health, etc.

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65 Ray June 14, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Kath, I am sorry to say that I think they told you what they thought you would want to hear. General Mills just spent a million dollars to defeat the GMO labelling legislation proposed in California. On April 30 of this year, the CEO specifically stated that General Mill’s future is in GMO foods.

“Powell made his case for GMOs at the Fortune Brainstorm Green event in Laguna Niguel, CA. He told the audience that genetically modified ingredients are safe, that they provide environmental benefits, and that they’re part of the broad solution the company will look to as the global population increases to an expected nine billion people by 2050.”

Officially, General Mills does not NOT consider GMOs a problem. CONTINUING to use GMOs is specifically on their to-do list. And to those who have a problem with that, they are happy to sell you a Lara Bar at Whole Foods and get your money that way.

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66 C June 15, 2013 at 9:53 am

Ray (and others)- thanks for sharing more information on here; it has made for an interesting discussion for sure! Kath, it would be great if you would continue fostering discussions such as this. Pictures of food are great, of course, but I would love it if you would share your knowledge on RD-related issues more and in turn continue to be open to learning from others’ knowledge. But if this kind of discussion is not of interest or a priority for you, I understand as well. It’s just my two cents that I much rather read thoughtful posts and discussions in comments then see a dozen artsy food pictures (but I know that other people likely disagree!!) or read about products I should buy.

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67 Irina June 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm

It is a very nice gesture for GM to invite you guys over and show you around the headquaters. All in all it must have been a fun and educational trip. I just want to point out that you only saw the headquarters with all the amenities, however, the majority of GM workforce is at the plant level (and making a lot less than salaried staff at HQ), and do not get to enjoy the same on-site perks (baby rooms, salons, etc). So, in your praise for GM “workplace”, please keep it in perspective. I am also no sure how the account of your meals is getting us a better perspective on GM products… it was super nice of them to feed you, but I am not seeing how it enhances your or owr understanding of what they are actually doing to make their food products safer, more natural, etc. I do not think that all big food manufacturers are evil by any means, but clearly your trip was to show their more “human” side, and I am not sure this really comes across in the post. I read for content and there was frankly little “meat” in this post… I am sure why it too so long to “put together”….

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68 Nancy June 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Respectfully, I have to agree. I think a post addressing the “facts” from a RD’s perspective – such as GM’s public health initiatives or its foods’ nutritional profiles – would have been valuable to your readers. I love to read about the delicious foods you were served but I feel like this post was sort of a missed opportunity.

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69 Mary Beth June 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Had she gone the “reporting” route you all would have shot the messenger and complained and ripped apart whatever she posted.

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70 C June 15, 2013 at 10:00 am

I feel that Nancy’s post was very respectful and that this is the kind of discussion that is useful not just for Kath but for ALL of us. Sure, this is Kath’s blog, but readers are allowed to comment respectfully, and if Kath didn’t want that, she would block all comments. In fact, constructive criticism shows that readers value the blog and want to continue reading it, so hopefully we all can recognize that constructive criticism is not attacking but can actually be beneficial to Kath (and Kath, I hope you can see it that way too.)

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71 Irina June 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm

sorry, bad grammer, I meant to say …”I am not sure why it took so long to put together…”

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72 Irene June 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Another Minneapolis resident here. Glad you visited and enjoyed it. In addition to all the other great things about General Mills noted in your post and in the comments, your readers should know that their CEO stood up for equal rights by publicly opposing the hateful marriage amendment that was on Minnesota’s ballot last November. The amendment failed, and last month our state’s government voted to (finally!) extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. That’s a great step forward for equality. So Minnesota has cold winters, yes. But we have Cheerios, Target, and marriage equality which more than makes up for those low temperatures.

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73 Vidya June 14, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Kath you know what you are doing. I don’t understand why you even reply to some people who jump in at every possible opportunity to criticize. One should understand that it is YOUR life and you are free to write and eat whatever you want and just because of the name of your blog you are not bound in a contract to write about only a certain category of food forever. Infact, I appreciate your honesty and your ability of being a normal, real human who understands the meaning of balance in your food.

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74 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Thanks Vidya : )

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75 Jane @ Not Plain So Jane June 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I grew up on wheat chex as a kid! My mom taught us young to pick cereals with low sugar. GM looks like a wonderful company, I bet they hire RDs! Work-life quality is an aspect younger people are really seeking in a career!

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76 Randy June 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Great pics Kath, so nice all of you got to go on the trip together. General Mills certainly is hospitable and knows how to entertain!

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77 Katherine June 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm

what a great opportunity!

http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com

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78 Annie June 14, 2013 at 3:28 pm

How did the photographer take the photos of you all looking at the computer monitor and strolling the aisle of beautiful dishes? He appears to be way higher than you- was he elevated somehow?

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79 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I think you just raises arms up. He was tall. Or at least way taller than me!

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80 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Sorry was using voice type on my phone! HE just raised his arms up!

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81 Emilie June 20, 2013 at 11:45 pm

For the prop room pictures with the beautiful dishes I saw him step up onto a ladder/step stool that was in the room specifically for reaching items that were high up on the shelves. He did it so quickly and effortlessly it is no wonder that Kath didn’t catch it. :)

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82 Jen June 14, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I’m sorry Kath, but as a longtime reader this post leaves me feeling confused and frustrated. It seems the blog world in general these days has become so watered down by corporate sponsorships. Say what you will, but you used to endorse a local, real-food ethic that is become more and more absent from your posts, which are littered with amazon-affiliate links, sponsorships and industrialized foods like general mills, sugar-free drinks and more.

This subject is very near and dear to my heart, as a small, grass-based farmer who is following the methods of Joel Salatin & Polyface Farm. You brag about visiting them and being oh so local and supportive of your farmers. What is GM doing in the way of supporting the sustainable / non-industrialized farming movement that you so embrace (when it serves you that is)? And if you truly think that they are genuinely trying to move towards GMO-free and GMO-labeling, I have to say that I think you are quite naive.

I wish that you would take a step back and decide who you are and what you believe in. You have a great platform here to spread positive messages of eating wholesome, real food, supporting local businesses and farmers and it is just so sad to see you buckling under the pressure/temptations of the corporate food industry just to have a free trip.

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83 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I had local grass fed beef for dinner last night! My beliefs and support remain the same.

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84 Lisa Marie June 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm

You are awfully passive aggressive in your comment Jen. I don’t think Kath is any less enthusiastic about local food – just read one of the Lately posts. Just because she went on this trip doesn’t mean she doesn’t still support local food wholeheartedly. I buy grass-fed beef from my brother’s family and Cheerios for my daughter too.

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85 heidi June 14, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Kath, I think your A-mazen :) A true inspiration for real eating(realistic) in a very imperfect world! Thank you for all you do to help keep me focused and excited to keep up on my healthy lifestyle. Really and truly you inspire me.
Side? I noticed No Bull advertised on your site, I know you love them, was wondering what flavor is your favorite?

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86 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Thanks :-) I am a total original girl although I do love the spinach and mushroom every now and then.

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87 heidi June 14, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Nice! Thank you i’m ordering both right now. Super excited to get a taste of Cville!

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88 Annie June 14, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Are GMOs real food? I would love to hear your thoughts Kath, I am an avid reader of your blog and have been for a long time. I admire your perspective on food and am just trying to figure out what the deal is with GMOs.

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89 KathEats June 14, 2013 at 7:21 pm

That’s a really loaded question :) In a nutshell, I’d say no, transgenic GMOs that combine genes from different species are no longer natural, in my opinion. Selective breeding (big corn with small corn to get medium corn) is something farmers have been doing for ages, but putting isolated genes from pigs into corn seems to cross the line of natural selection. Selective breeding might happen in nature, but transgenic GMO would never happen.

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90 Amelia Winslow June 14, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Any company who fully supports working women is a great one in my book. Thanks for sharing your experience so we could get a peek into how this company treats it’s employees!

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91 Jessica June 16, 2013 at 10:57 am

Amelia,
Just remember as someone mentioned above, that what we got a glimpse of is how GM treats its CORPORATE employees. This post shows nothing about how its factory workers are treated, and the amenities they have (or do not have).

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92 Meghan June 14, 2013 at 7:20 pm

What an awesome trip! Thanks for sharing!

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93 Christine June 14, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I was in Minneapolis last month. I stayed just south of the city in a town called Northfield, what a charming place! Their downtown area was quaint, with cute little shops including a cupcake bakery and a shop specializing in olive oils to mention a few! What a great area to visit!

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94 robin June 14, 2013 at 8:24 pm

How nice, I wanna work there too.

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95 Casey June 14, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I am a local cville reader and will be going to work for General Mills in august (just graduated from UVA). So excited to hear about your positive review of the company, especially the work life balance piece :)

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96 KathEats June 15, 2013 at 5:34 am

Exciting!

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97 Ilane @cultiv8health June 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I am a believer that moms and dads need work support and paid maternity leave. The babies will be thankful.

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98 Jessica @ Chocolate Covered Chickpeas   June 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm

What a fantastic trip – thanks for sharing Kath! The Betty Crocker test kitchens look amazing!!

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99 Ray June 15, 2013 at 5:08 am

The picture of you and Maze and the Cheerios necklace is absolutely gorgeous, Kath! You should get that one framed for the nursery. It’s adorable!

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100 Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope June 15, 2013 at 5:37 am

What a great post! Amazing how accommodating they are – I’m impressed! I had no idea they were headquartered in Minneapolis… I’m from Wisconsin and my brother actually lives/works in the city. It’s a really nice place to live, but yes, the winters are brutal!

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101 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner June 15, 2013 at 6:11 am

This was such a great post! I love to see how you balance good taste with good grace. After all, going to visit General Mills to see how they are improving their company and NOT eating any cereal would have been discourteous. I think the way you eat is truly inspiring, and a bowl of cereal certainly does not make your outlook on ‘real food’ any less…real.

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102 Jennie June 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Just curious what your feelings are on cheerios containing GMO’s? I buy the whole foods “cheerios” for my daughter since they are non GMO.did general mills mention anything about that or plans to change it?

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103 Dolly June 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm

I was very surprised to read your post about giving your precious son Cheerios with GMO’s when up until now he had very healthy food. I just recently learned about the GMO’s in Cheerios when while babysitting my grandaughter my son asked me never to give her Cheerios and why!

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104 Sara @ sarasmiles June 15, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Ahh what an amazing trip! When I saw that cereal bar I almost licked my computer screen. Cereal is my favorite food.

Looks like a great company to work for too. however, I used to travel to Minneapolis for work…in the winter…and it was unbearable. Good thing the entire city is connected with indoor walkways so you never have to go outside. Sheesh!

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105 Shelly June 15, 2013 at 11:38 pm

I work at General Mills and got to be part of Kath’s visit :-) I wanted to share my two cents on the GMO discussion. First, it’s not a simple issue. I can tell you that we seek to use simple ingredients, and we work hard to offer a variety of cereals to meet individual needs and preferences. If this is important to you, organic cereals all are free of GMO ingredients.

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106 Karen June 17, 2013 at 10:00 am

So, if it’s all about choice – why is GM opposed to clearly labeling GMO laden products?

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107 Kara June 19, 2013 at 6:46 am

We are going to have to vote with our grocery dollars on this one – just like when consumers stopped buying milk from cows injected with rbgh. Consumers effected that change in the food industry. And every food company right now already knows organic is where the dollars are. If GMO’s were safe, Monsanto lobbyists would not have gone to the trouble of getting legislation passed that protects them from being sued if GMOs turn out to not be safe. Check out the Monsanto Protection Act. Sounds like they already know something!

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108 Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio June 17, 2013 at 8:12 am

Such a cool trip and experience Kath!! Love it!

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109 Hope June 17, 2013 at 9:31 am

I have a lot to say about this but I’ll just keep it short because most people have said what I’m thinking. Working with GM seems like such an odd choice for a real food blog. If you had been paid for this then I might understand it a bit more. Everyone has to pay the bills. But you didn’t even get paid, you got a free trip. I don’t see how that’s worth advertising for a giant company who sells “fake” food on your real food blog.

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110 KathEats June 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

The GM cereals that I like might not be pure real food, but I’d hardly call them fake.

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111 Karen June 17, 2013 at 9:59 am

I wouldn’t understand it even/esp. if she got compensated for it…this spate of “sell out” posts really make me cringe — I can’t even read them. Mostly I’m embarrassed for Kath. A pocketful of money is not worth one’s integrity…trust is fragile and not easily rebuilt. What is the point of this post? Other than the company’s beautiful employee centered environment, one learns nothing re. GM – other than they “bribed” healthy bloggers to detract from their unhealthful food practices. It’s really becoming hard to trust Kath’s proclaimed views lately, as so many seemed to tainted by the lure of green.

I adore you Kath, and know you have a huge heart…I’m rooting that you figure out a way to analyze/select business opportunities that are truly authentic to who we know you to be.

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112 KathEats June 17, 2013 at 10:39 am

The point of the post, as I said in the opening line, was to learn. I learned!!

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113 Sara June 17, 2013 at 11:01 am

If the point of the post is to learn, then why did you use it just to showcase what you ate on your trip? I am honestly confused because I would like to learn more about General Mills but I am confused by what exactly you (and we) learned through your visit/this post. This is a serious question and not an attempt to be nitpicky. I enjoy your blog and just hope to understand better how posts like this serve you or your readers. Thanks for answering.

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114 Hope June 17, 2013 at 10:07 am

Really? Processed foods containing GMOs are real food to you? Your philosophy on food must have changed then. These cereals seem more like a food that you would put in your sometimes but not often category and not in your real food category.

For the record, I have nothing against eating GM cereals. I have a box of Kix in my cabinet right now. It just doesn’t seem like it fits in with KERF.

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115 Katie June 19, 2013 at 10:16 pm

To Hope and all the other commenters criticizing Kath –
This is Kath’s blog. She can go on any trip she wants, visit any company, eat any food, write any blog post that she wants to. Why do you care? If you don’t like what she’s writing about or the trips she’s taking then stop reading her blog. It’s that simple. I’m tired of reading through negative comments from people on someone else’s blog. Hey Hope, if you’re so perfect then why don’t you start your own blog where you only eat 100% real, organic, non-GMO food all of the time and write about it.

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116 diana June 17, 2013 at 11:29 am

thanks for this post!
i live in minneapolis & have been a midwest kid most of my life.
i will agree that general mills does great things for their execs [which is not equal for all of the factory employees!] & they were a very strong voice for marriage equality AND they sponsor ball fields & activities for kids all over the twin cities ; but their use of GMOs & their ‘laissez faire’ attitude of ‘its not that simple’ really bums me out.
they sell larabars & then turn around and spend MILLIONS of dollars to block legislation that will require GMO labeling.

i am not interested in attacking you or judging folks for what they are choosing to eat [or not eat] ; but for me personally, general mills foods [and their 'all natural' lines of cascadian farms & larabars] have no room in my kitchen.

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117 Veronica June 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Kath,

Thank you for your post and for being so “down to earth.” You genuine and have a practical lookout on life and that is why I love your blog. I have been a longtime reader but have never commented until now. I am completely disgusted and turned off by the PETTY behavior on here by “readers.” I am sorry that there are such RUDE and clearly UNEDUCATED people commenting on your site. It actually shocks me that people choose to spend their time hating on others and spreading negative energy. I wish I had that much free time but instead I choose to focus on positive things and my family. You are obviously a person with FREE WILL that is able to make your own decisions. I am so sick of reading negative comments on your blog from people that NEED TO GET A LIFE! If people have an issue with your blog and food choices maybe they just shouldn’t read it! Cheerio’s is actually sold that Whole Foods people! Get Over Yourselves and get a new POSITIVE hobby!

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118 Katy June 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Veronica,

Honestly, I personally couldn’t care less if Kath goes to GM and eats non-GMO labeled processed foods. It’s her blog, her business, her body. But the people who are questioning her stated own purpose for the blog versus GM’s corporate ethics, they’re not UNEDUCATED (all caps, your emphasis). Civil and polite disagreements or questions are not PETTY, RUDE, or NEGATIVE.

I think Kath is smart to leave these comments up and address them head-on because obviously they have crossed the minds of a lot of loyal readers. I actually think it’s you who needs to get POSITIVE hobby, because white knights are not needed around these parts.

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119 Kori June 17, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Kath, as always, I loved this post. You write very well, and I loved what you chose to share. Your eats look very delicious, and I believe you have a great view on healthy eating and an overall healthy lifestyle. Thank you for doing what you do, choosing to share with us readers, and always staying true to yourself, even though there are people who have nothing better to do than to criticize others. I pity them. Looks like Mazen and Matt both enjoyed themselves too! I hope to get to experience these types of things in the future once I’m a fellow R.D. too! :)

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120 Kristen @ Change of Pace June 19, 2013 at 5:31 am

What a great experience Kath! I love that they had your whole family :)

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121 Elizabeth June 21, 2013 at 8:36 am

Many of the comments on this post are totally ridiculous. In my opinion, Kath’s blog has always been about eating “real food” (the definition is open to debate) most of the time for the sake of living a healthy lifestyle.

It has never been about avoiding GMO food at all costs–never. The average American has cereal in their pantry and GM is a very popular brand. Many of their cereals can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. All of you saying that GMO foods are evil and shaming Kath for visiting a company supporting them–do you all buy only 100% organic everything? Do you avoid eating at restaurants? (While many feature organic and local produce…that’s certainly not the norm). Do you skip out on family and friends BBQs because you didn’t know they only bought organic items?

Hope you and your family enjoyed your trip, Kath!

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122 Mahealani Flournoy July 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Oh my gosh, look at that char! I’m in love with that fish.

That prop room makes me so happy!!!

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