Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

The Fruit Loop Climate Change Express

Melting polar ice caps, increasingly severe storms and devastating droughts haven’t stirred climate change outrage. Maybe a shortage of Fruit Loops will.

SONY DSCThat appears to be the aim of a report released by Oxfam, the international anti-poverty organization.

Called “Behind the Brands,” the report is leveled at the 10 largest global food and beverage producers. However, its real purpose may be a cunning attempt to touch an everyman nerve. What could be more disconcerting to average Americans than discovering your morning Cheerios could disappear from grocery store shelves or a box of Kix could cost 30 percent more.

As anticipated, the report resulted in stiff pushback from major food suppliers, which Oxfam said account for as much as 25 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency noted the figure is actually closer to 10 percent, but a combined 263.7 million tons is still a lot of bran output, if you know what I mean.

If the 10 food companies were a country, Oxfam said, it would be the 25th worst polluter on the planet.

“They have the economic power to drive the required transformation of the food system and influence the direction of the wider global economy,” Oxfam said. “Their vested interests coincide with the world’s need for a cleaner and more sustainable global food system and a sustainable energy system.”

The key subtext is “coincidental vested interests.” The other interested party is all the people in the world who wake up everyday craving cereal.

Unlike floods, wildfires and suffocating cloud covers that afflict some people, the loss of affordable, available Fruit Loops could affect anybody. Even you.

I don’t eat cold breakfast cereal any more, but I have fond memories of loading up before school on a big bowl of Wheaties with a banana and whole milk. I took the tagline “Breakfast of Champions” as gospel and, hopefully, a prophecy.

For me, Oxfam’s warning touched a sensitive memory node.

The average consumer has no place to vent his or her concern about a rash of tornados or the plight of the polar bear. But consumers could vote with their pocketbook by boycotting General Mills or Pepsi products until they take tougher steps to slow the negative effects of climate change, whoever or whatever is responsible.

Climate change deniers can argue the cause of ocean warming, but they would be speechless in the face of collective consumer concern about their breakfast food. That empty bowl every morning would be like an oracle sounding a silent alarm about earth’s destiny.

captain-crunch-facePeople can look past massive, evolving trends that are too complex to grasp or too overwhelming to contemplate. But when a problem becomes personal and hits you roundly in the cereal bowl, people suddenly can see the big picture without the help of Alpha-Bits.

As much as Oxfam hopes major food producers lead the way, it really hopes average people who eat breakfast cereal will give them a big nudge.

And it would give Cap’n Crunch something useful to do.



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