The killer in your breakfast

The Good Life Letter 

9th November 2018

  • The horror lurking in your breakfast
  • What weed killer does to your body
  • How to avoid this common poison in your garden
Halloween has been and gone.

But here’s a horror story for you.

It’s about a deadly threat lurking in your breakfast.

Yes – that’s right – a CEREAL KILLER.

Sounds like a punchline to a joke, I know, but this is literally true, as you’re about to discover.

Even if you’re not a cereal person, the killer could be hanging around outside in your garden right now.
Ever heard of glyphosate?

This herbicide has been used by gardeners for killing weeds since 1974. It’s an ingredient in the popular pesticide Roundup, made by a company called Monsanto.

Studies have found that high doses of glyphosate cause cancer in laboratory tests on animals.

The World Health Organisation has ranked it as a group 2a carcinogen. That’s a ‘probably causes cancer in humans’ verdict, rather than a ‘definitely’.

But it’s enough of a worry that in California the law requires Roundup to carry a cancer warning label.

However, Monsanto is holding its ground. The company claims that over 800 studies prove that their product is safe, despite being hit by over 4,000 lawsuits from people claiming they’ve become ill as a result of using it.

Of course, you’d expect weed killers to be toxic, bearing in mind they’re designed to kill living organisms, albeit ones we have decided aren’t picturesque enough for the garden.

But you might be more surprised to find it in your cereal – and in worrying amounts too.

How weed killer gets into your cereal

You see, genetically modified food crops have been designed to be resistant to glyphosate. This means that farmers can spray tonnes of Roundup on them, killing only the weeds.

And as if that’s not enough use of the herbicide, what is not so well known is that farmers also use glyphosate on wheat, oats, beans and other crops just before they are harvested.

They do this so that the crops dry out more quickly.


Seems like yet more overkill in the name of convenient cheap food, and while I understand the motivation for this, we have to take a step back and think about what we’re doing to the planet and our bodies.

The big problem is that with so much glyphosate sloshing over our crops, it’s not so easily washed out when those crops turn into food.

This is particularly true of oat-based cereals.

Recent scientific tests have found that at least three cereals on sale in the UK contain an unhealthy level of glyphosate.

They are…

  • Kellogg's No Added Sugar Granola with Apricot and Pumpkin Seeds

  • Quaker's Oat So Simple Original Microwaveable Oats

  • Weetabix's Oatibix

The situation is a lot worse over in the States. A recent study showed that 26 out of 28 oat-based cereal products had harmful levels of glyphosate.

The problem is serious…

What weed killer does to your body

I wasn’t joking when I said “horror story”, because the health effects can be deadly.

Aside from the carcinogenic effects, a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found glyphosate worsens the effects of other toxins and could lead to the development of diseases such as Parkinson’s, as well as infertility and cancer.

Other studies have shown that glyphosate kills beneficial gut bacteria and damages the DNA in human embryonic cells, linking it to birth defects.

This is before we get onto other problem with cereals, which is the high sugar content, even in apparently ‘healthy’ muesli cereals.

That hasn’t stopped the inexorable rise of the dehydrated brekkie foodstuff, though.

When the first National Food Survey was carried out in 1863 it asked working class families what they ate for breakfast. For most, it was bread soaked in milk and salt, bread and butter, bread and cheese or porridge.

It’s very different now…

According to a book called Eat Your Heart Out by Felicity Lawrence, “The British and the Irish are the largest eaters of puffed, flaked, flavoured, shaped, sugared, salted and extruded cereals in the world. We munch an average of 6.7kg of the dehydrated stuff per person in the UK.”

The average British person eats half a ton of cereal during the course of their lifetime.

So when there are health issues with cereals for instance, the added WEED KILLER, then it is a widespread and serious problem.

If you really love your cereal, I’m not suggesting you banish it from your life.

But I’d encourage you to consider it an occasional treat, and try fruit, eggs, wholemeal toast, kippers, mackerel, and other old-fashioned breakfast alternatives.

They’re not only lower in sugar and lower in carbs, but lower in pesticides and weed killers.

And don’t just think about what you eat… think about what you spray on your garden, too.

How to avoid this poison in your garden

If you want to avoid using glyphosate or cut down drastically on this common weed killer, then try these alternatives:

  • Use corn gluten meal – it can prevent new weed seeds from germinating and it’s non-toxic to animals.

  • On a sunny day, spray weeds with a mixture of 5% vodka and water. This helps dry them out and kill them. You can also do the same with household vinegar instead of vodka, adding some salt. Or try my old favourite, freshly squeezed lemon.

  • Pour boiling water in the cracks of paving slabs to attack weeds growing there.

  • Covering the soil with a layer of organic matter (compost, bark, wood chips, newspaper, cardboard, grass clippings) to help smother weeds and stop seeds from germinating.

  • Try removing weeds manually, digging down to the roots. Consistent weeding will wear down the invaders over time. It takes effort but it’s natural and toxin-free.

  • If you have pests, spray them with lemon juice mixed with water (about 50/50) but make sure you rinse the plant leaves afterwards to stop any damage.

If you have any natural garden and household cleaning tips you think might work for other readers, do let me know and I’ll share them in a future letter.

Let’s reduce our reliance on toxic chemicals as much as possible!

I’ll be back with more over the weekend.

Yours, as always




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