Can a Cereal Maker Support Slow Food?

It can all be pretty confusing. The Kellogg company-- worldwide purveyor of sugary breakfast cereal, among other nutritional frauds-- can be lumped in with the most pernicious of healthy food system adversaries like McDonald's, GoGurt, Hot Pockets, and other fast foods. But the Kellogg Foundation, which has absolutely no relation to the cereal maker behemoth, on the other hand, has a wealth of grantmaking programs supporting wellbeing, nutrition, and food access-- it backs slow food, while the corporation with the strikingly similar name is all about over-processed convenience foods. Baffled? Don't be. While it may seem like a conflict of interest at first, the further you delve into the structure of the foundation, the more you'll see that its wellness priorities are as altruistic as they come.

Most people may not have heard of slow food, but just about everybody has heard of the farm-to-table movement that's been sweeping the nation and gaining momentum with each passing year. The slow food movement is basically the same concept. In 2012, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation made its largest grant year-to-date of $1.2 million to Slow Food USA. Slow Food USA is a grassroots effort encouraging support for local farmers, growing your own food, and biodiversity. Slow Food USA believes that "food is a universal right. Food that is fair should be accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor." (See W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Grants for Public Health).

Slow Food USA has grown to 225 chapters in all 50 states, with hundreds of thousands of supporting members. With the three-year $1.2 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Slow Food USA plans to continue its work with addressing the inequities in the food system and help create and grow "local food cultures."

Access to fresh, locally-grown food is an issue, especially for low-income and inner-city residents. It's a fact that less healthy foods are more often than not, cheaper to buy than fresh fruit and vegetables. This directly affects the health of these residents, who on average have relatively higher rates of obesity and diabetes compared to suburban and higher income residents. Think about it: a small bag of frozen corn is about $1, while five fresh ears of corn in the summer costs a couple of dollars. Low income families or those on public assistance are going to make those dollars stretch by going for the frozen corn — or worse, canned corn — nearly every time. Slow Food USA is helping these communities grow urban gardens so the residents can literally see, taste, and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is going a long way to help them achieve their goals. (Read Kellogg Foundation program director, Linda Jo Doctor's IP profile).