But seriously, guys… lighten up.
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Along with a number of food safety-related offenses, Massachusetts-based Nashoba Brooks Bakery recently received a wrist slap from the FDA for listing “love” alongside the necessary food components in their granola’s ingredient list. The warning notice issued by the Food and Drug Administration stated:

Basically, if this were a conversation between the FDA and myself rather than a formal chastising letter to a bakery that’s listed “love” on their packaging for nearly 20 years as a sweet gesture, it would go something like this:

FDA: Love is not a food ingredient. No way, not uh.

Me: Yes huh. Mind your own beeswax.

Love is absolutely a key ingredient in every batch of granola I’ve ever made. What do you think gives it that signature warm, toasty-rich depth of flavor? The faint of heart and emotionally despondent (and apparently the FDA) might attribute it to caramelization, and maybe cinnamon, but anyone with a discerning palate knows better. Hell, anyone who’s stayed up later than they felt capable of to make sure a birthday cake was baked or dragged their butt out of bed before sunrise to see to it that lunch was made knows that love is an essential ingredient in plenty of staple foods—it’s what makes them taste delicious despite the sleep deprivation. In fact, I’d argue that this ingredient is what distinguishes homemade granola from most commercially-produced granolas lining your local supermarket’s shelves. Ever notice how those grocery store granolas taste like stale cardboard and rub it in your face that you’re getting 300 calories for a mere 1/2 cup of the stuff? Yeah, granola made with love isn’t like that. Granola made with love makes you feel like you just ate a big hug, and everyone knows great big hugs actually burn calories, so…

Granted, I’ve never consumed Nashoba Brooks Bakery granola, but if they’re confident enough to list love among the other ingredients, I’d like to think they’re BS-ing about it. It’s really obvious when people try to substitute an extra splash of vanilla extract to mimic the flavor of love—and to go so far as to list love, a component that did not actually go into the product, on the ingredient list is pretty low (still not exactly an FDA matter, but definitely a cruddy thing to do). I would hope any upstanding bakery establishment would not make such a bold claim without the goods to back it up.

Look, I am well aware—and generally thankful—that food labeling regulation is a serious matter, and in cases like the creepy-crawlies hanging out around the cooling area, by all means—it’s all you, FDA. Do ya thang; dole out those warning letters like there’s no tomorrow. However, it seems to me that the overwhelming majority of consumers can discern the difference between a human emotion and rolled oats, even without the vigilant assistance of a government agency. (That might be an overly generous assumption, but I want to believe in people at least this much.) To me, it’s a sad day when a small company, proud of the toasty whole-grain yogurt-topper they produce, cannot wittily claim love as a part of the cooking process.

Before you know it, Campbell’s will be getting slammed for listing “Smiles” as the first ingredient of Goldfish crackers.

By Darcy Lenz and Darcy Lenz