Jeff Johnson Elaborates on a Few of His Favorite Subjects

Jeff Johnson Elaborates on a Few of His Favorite Subjects

There's a lot going on in the organic food industry right now. We sat down with Jeff Johnson, Kashi nutritionist, to get the latest on GMOs, happiness and the future.

Why is the Non-GMO Project Verification process important to you?

I've always been passionate about creating positive change in the food system. Non-GMO Project Verification provides an important and credible way to help people choose food that will help fuel that change.

How is Kashi active in the non-GMO effort?

We've been involved in creating positive change in the food system since 1984 when the company was founded. We were among the first companies that chose to avoid things like white sugar, partially hydrogenated oils, synthetic colors, flavors and preservatives and use expeller pressed oils instead. In 2004 we began significantly ramping up our use of organic ingredients, which has increased sevenfold since then. Now we're partnering with the Non-GMO Project to achieve Non-GMO Project Verification, which is another important step in our journey.

Organic food is huge with consumers. To what do you attribute this growing demand?

Ultimately, people just want to know more about their food — who made it, how it was made and where it came from. Once you start asking questions, it kicks off a cycle of curiosity that just keeps going, which is just awesome. It sounds cliché, but it goes back to that old saying of "the more you know, the more you know you need to know."

When you look out 5 or 10 or 25 years, what do you see for Kashi?

Down the track I see Kashi leading the way for helping people achieve superior health in a way that's highly enjoyable. By doing that, I believe that we will not only turn on a wider audience to eating well, but we'll also pave the way for many other food companies to do the same with us.

What is the timetable for more foods to be verified?

We will continue taking a phased approach to achieving Non-GMO Project Verification. Some will be verified quickly and others won't. There are significant challenges associated with achieving Non-GMO Project Verification. In many cases, the scale of the crops we need are not available so that means we need to plant new crops and await those growing cycles. In other cases, because of the dominance of GMO crops in America and cross-pollination — both of which are outside of our control — it may take years to achieve. At the same time, we have been very successful at increasing our organic ingredient supply significantly over the last eight years along with Non-GMO Project Verification recently on seven of our cereals, so I'm confident we'll continue to make steady progress on this journey.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A sunny day at the beach with my family and friends. A playful 4- to 6-foot combo swell running along with a plethora of surf craft on hand to ride. Great food, music and smiles until the sun goes down. It doesn't get much better than that.

For more information on GMOs, visit Kashi's Non-GMO Project Verification page, visit us on Facebook or stop by NonGMOProject.org.

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