Archive | October, 2012

Hawthorne Valley Farm Granola

9 Oct


Hawthorne Valley Farm Granola

A food review by Daniel B.

Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean that it’s good for you.

There has been a lot of brouhaha recently around the relative importance of organic food. Some true believers in the movement will absolutely insist that organic food is more nutritious. I’ve even heard someone claim recently that organic produce lasts longer than its conventional counterparts. I have no reason to believe either of these are true.

Sometimes the organic version of a food item may be the best of all available choices. But there is also a lot of organic junk food on the market, and I’ll confess to buying a lot more of it than I should. And not just for my kids.

Sugar is generally the culprit of taking good, wholesome, nutritious food and turning it into junk. Fortunately the good folks at Hawthorne Valley Farm are still making an organic granola filled with goodness and just a touch of maple syrup.

Why breakfast cereals for adults have to be loaded with sugar is a mystery to me. Smart Start by Kellog’s has sugar as its third ingredient, its fourth ingredient “oat clusters” contains sugar, molasses, honey, and corn syrup, its fifth ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, and its seventh ingredient is honey. It’s amazing the manufacturer can get away with calling this “lightly sweetened” even though a one cup serving has 14g of sugar.

By the way, a one cup serving of Smart Start is about 50g, which makes this healthy breakfast 28% sugar by weight.

Which isn’t to say that Cascadian Farm organic oats and honey granola is any better. It contains sugar, molasses and honey as ingredients two, five and seven respectively. Also with 14g of sugar per serving this organic breakfast cereal weighs in at 25% sugar by weight.


All of this makes the ingredients list of Hawthorne Valley Farm’s organic maple walnut raisin granola such a blessed relief. It’s made from organic oats, organic canola oil, organic sunflower & sesame seeds, organic maple syrup, biodynamic raisins and organic walnuts.

This is truly a lightly sweetened breakfast cereal.

The only problem is that without preservatives or fancy airtight packaging the granola inside the bag can get a little bit soft. Some people may like it that way. But with the nip of fall in the air, toasting this cereal in a 350 oven for four to five minutes makes for a very special breakfast, especially when it’s served on top of some good yogurt.

Fall doesn’t call for the deep warming power of a hot steaming bowl of oatmeal. But still the chill of morning makes cold milk on cereal seem stark and joyless. This small act requiring just a few minutes of effort will bring a toasty smell into the kitchen to welcome the morning and start the day.

Yogurt however is important because the toasted granola will heat the milk in the bowl and you will miss out on the delightful contrast of temperatures.

Yes, a one pound bag of their granola isn’t cheap. At $7.50 it’s about twice the price of Cascadian Farm’s sugar bomb. But if you think about the cereal as a hot toasted yogurt topping, it’s only about fifty cents per quarter-cup serving. Or to look at it another way, ounce by ounce it’s about the same price as those new fangled frozen yogurt joints.

No, it’s not as sweet. But it still makes a great treat.

About Daniel B.

A west coast transplant now living in Albany, Daniel Berman is applying his communication strategy background to food writing with the ultimate goal of improving the culinary landscape in the Capital Region. He writes the FUSSYlittleBLOG and contributes regularly to All Over Albany.