6 Wholesome Facts About Kashi

Kashi GOLEAN waffles
Kashi GOLEAN waffles
Mr.TinDC, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0 (cropped)

Since 1984, Kashi has sold plant-based foods made primarily from whole grains and seeds. The company is best known for its cereal products (such as the various GOLEAN flavors), but Kashi also makes crackers, snack bars and bites, cookies, waffles, and frozen entrees.

  1. Kashi was founded by Philip and Gayle Tauber.

In the early 1980s, Philip and Gayle Tauber were living in Southern California. They had worked together in business ventures devoted to bodybuilding, and indoor foliage, but wanted to start a company to help people eat more healthfully. They thought about naming their company “Gold'n Grains” and “Graino” before settling on Kashi. Bankers didn't exactly love their natural foods business concept, though, so the couple invested their life savings of $25,000 to get the business off the ground.

  1. The name Kashi is actually a portmanteau ...

Kashi is named after a fusion of the words Kashruth and Kushi. Kashruth refers to Jewish religious dietary laws, or the state of being kosher. Kushi refers to the last name of Michio Kushi, a Japanese teacher who shared his knowledge about the macrobiotic diet with Americans starting back in the 1960s.

  1. Kashi owes a little of its success to the Olympics.

In October 1983, the company launched its first product, Kashi Pilaf, a breakfast blend of seven whole grains and sesame seeds. But the pilaf had to be cooked for more than 25 minutes before eating—longer than most consumers had the patience for—and initial sales were disappointing. However, Kashi helped turned their fortunes around when they became one of the first companies to offer product samples at sporting events during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The samples helped the company develop a small, but loyal, following among athletes and other health-conscious types.

  1. In 2000, the Kellogg company bought Kashi, surprising some food purists.

The cereal behemoth Kellogg’s purchased Kashi in 2000 for $32 million, an acquisition that some people criticized because Kellogg’s food products sometimes contain artificial ingredients and refined grains (Pop-Tarts, anyone?). With the acquisition came a move to Kellogg's headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, although Kashi later moved back to California, a spot seemingly more in keeping with its brand ethos.

  1. Kashi's use of the term natural has attracted controversy …

Because the FDA does not regulate use of the term natural, food companies can use the term without actually defining what that means. In 2012, a grocery store owner in Rhode Island decided to stop selling Kashi products after he learned that Kashi used genetically modified soybeans and non-organic ingredients. He posted a note in his store explaining his decision, and photos of the note went viral on social media. According to USAToday, some consumers believed that the word natural on Kashi packaging implied the cereal was organic and GMO-free. The company later agreed to pay several million dollars in class action lawsuits to consumers who felt their use of the term natural was misleading, and agreed to remove the phrases "all natural" and "nothing artificial" from their products. (Today, all Kashi products are Non-GMO Project Verified.)

  1. Kashi has created a new protocol to support organic farmers.

In 2016, Kashi announced a collaborative effort to support farmers who are in the (time-consuming and expensive) process of transitioning their fields from conventional to organic agriculture. Working with the organic certifier Quality Assurance International (QAI), Kashi developed a new protocol called Certified Transitional, and then purchased the first crop of Certified Transitional ingredients—a hard red winter wheat. The result was their Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits cereal [PDF]. After a successful launch, the company's portfolio now includes eight other Certified Transitional products, and farmers have received more than $1 million to support transitioning their fields as of February 2018 [PDF].

10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine

iStock/MarkSwallow
iStock/MarkSwallow

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of wine. Here, Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma, spills some of the best. Here are a few things you might not know about wine.

1. Digital eyes are everywhere in today's vineyards.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like army bases—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. 

2. Modern vineyards also bury a lot of cow skulls. 

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. Ferocious foliage is a vintner's secret weapon.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. Roses in a vineyard are the wine country equivalent to the canary in the coal mine. 

Vintners plant roses among their vines because the flowers get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. Birds of prey help protect the grapes.

Glasses of red wine and charcuterie
iStock/Natalia Van Doninck

Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. Small bugs become big problems in wine tasting rooms.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bug-eating predators are fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. Wine needs to be filtered. 

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. (Unwanted compounds in the wine bind with the fining agents so they can be filtered and removed.) Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. Wine is ever so slightly radioactive (that's a good thing).

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. MRIs can determine the fine from the funk.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. Wines can be aged instantly.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

Taco Bell is Opening a Taco-Themed Hotel in Palm Springs This Summer

Taco Bell Corp.
Taco Bell Corp.

For some, having a Taco Bell and its cheese-filled menu within driving distance is enough. For others, only a Taco Bell destination vacation will do. This August, the popular fast food chain is going to convert an existing Palm Springs, California, hotel into a burrito-filled Taco Bell getaway for a limited time.

The Bell Hotel will have all the usual amenities—rooms, food, gifts, and a salon—operating with a taco-themed cosmetic facelift. The nail salon, for example, will feature Taco Bell-inspired nail art. (Though we're not entirely sure what that consists of—possibly nails that resemble hot sauce packets.) The gift shop will feature Taco Bell apparel. Guests can also enjoy the standard variety of Taco Bell menu items. According to Thrillist, some new additions to their line-up are expected to be unveiled.

The as-yet-undisclosed hotel in Palm Springs will be operating as a Taco Bell partner for five nights total. As with pop-up stores and other publicity campaigns, the expectation is that guests will share their bizarre Taco Bell resort experience on social media and create some buzz around the brand. Taco Bell is no stranger to audacious marketing, as in the case of their Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, which books weddings. Recently, the company also began making home deliveries via GrubHub.

The Bell Hotel website is now accepting sign-ups so fans can be notified when reservations open. The facility is expected to open August 9.

[h/t CNBC]

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