When One Degree set out to create a new line of cereals, we began by “thinking inside the box.” Each ingredient and technology needed to be the most natural we could find. That’s true even for the plant-based additive that keeps our cereals fresh.
Corporate producers use chemicals like BHA and BHT. Some natural brands use soy-based antioxidants. We chose an antioxidant made from non-GMO sunflower oil, a product invented in Spain, and distributed in North America by Food Ingredient Solutions.
Biotecnologías Aplicadas (BTSA) of Madrid was the first European producer of natural antioxidants for food, and highly respected for their innovation and quality. For us, this company checks all the right boxes:
Their dedication to transparency ensures BTSA can trace exactly where in Europe the sunflowers are grown. Each batch is “identity preserved (IP) certified,” which guarantees each step is documented, from planting and harvest to chemical-free processing of the seeds into sunflower oil to final extraction of vital natural compounds.
BTSA’s rejection of GMO crops was also important to us. We took that one step further by choosing antioxidants derived from sunflower seeds, rather than the lower-priced option of soybean-based additives. Genetic engineering conglomerates haven’t yet invented a GMO sunflower variety, but genetically modified soy is everywhere, accounting for 93 percent of all soy planted in the U.S. Just last year Dow AgroSciences won approval to begin marketing a new strain of GMO soy that carries a gene borrowed from bacteria that allows it to survive mass spraying of a volatile herbicide known as 2,4-D. Students of military history will recognize this infamous chemical. The formula was developed in World War II, and returned to the field of battle during the Vietnam War, where it was an ingredient in the defoliant Agent Orange.
Not surprisingly, even IP-certified soy was not a crop we could ever be comfortable with, given its risk of GMO contamination and the possibility we might contribute in some way to Dow’s adaptation of a battlefield poison to the home front. As Food Ingredient Solutions vice-president Helen Greaves explains: “So even though you have an IP certificate for soy, there is still a little bit of concern. Even if you test it, can you test it accurately enough to determine there’s nothing (no GMO) in there?”
“Plant-based” is yet another characteristic of the product that we especially liked. Every farmer in our transparent supply chain works hard to provide pure, veganic harvests for our cereals. After all our attention to the integrity of our ingredients, you can be sure you won’t find us compromising by adding chemicals. BTSA’s pioneering antioxidant is the most natural way to keep our cereal fresh on the shelves, and in your pantry.
As the name implies, the reason an antioxidant is needed at all is because of oxidation, a process that happens to all cereals. Naturally occurring fats in the grains and other ingredients react to oxygen, and will spoil over time. Flax is an example of an ingredient that will oxidize rapidly.
Most of the corporate mills use chemical preservatives. If you see a cartoon character on the box, there’s probably BHA or BHT inside. Leprechauns, toucans, chocolate counts and even that stout naval icon, Captain Crunch, are likely to be relying on these chemical compounds to keep their sugary contents viable.
BTSA’s additive is more expensive than these chemical solutions, but unquestionably worth it. It’s called Tocobiol, a refined version of what the industry classifies as “mixed tocopherols.” The mix of antioxidants extracted from the sunflower seed oil is what gives the product its natural preservative potency. Tocopherols are organic compounds that contain four key isomers that together sound a bit like an off-campus fraternity: alpha, beta, gamma, delta. Most manufacturers extract only the alpha tocopherol, but BTSA’s proprietary method — “short path molecular distillation” — guarantees that all four are captured, ensuring greater preservative effectiveness at lower concentrations.
The pioneering short path molecular distillation technique also maximizes the amount of valuable phytosterols, monoglycerides and squalene that can be retained from the original sunflower oil. Food Ingredient Solutions’ Marilea Romabiles perfectly summarizes the benefits of these efficiencies: “It is natural and at the same time effective.”
In a perfect world, every pure cereal harvest would last forever, safe from oxidation and oblivious to expiration dates. We are happy to have discovered the next best thing: A natural antioxidant to keep our cereals fresh, a plant-based innovation far beyond the standards of today’s artificial, engineered food.
— Charlie Dodge
*Transparency note: The sunflowers in our video and photos are from the North American fields that supply our veganic sunflower seeds and sunflower oil ingredients. To create its natural preservative, BTSA uses sunflowers cultivated in Europe. Each of these sources is proudly non-GMO.