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Decoding Labels: Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies

Convenience foods are just that — convenient. As a mother, I fully understand the urge to have convenience foods ready so that I can grab them as the kids and I head out the door to run errands or meetup with others for a play date. If we didn’t leave the house with at least some snack food, I’d be even more tempted to eat out than I already am. After all, nobody likes being hungry. Being crammed into a car with a group of hungry kids? Now that’s a recipe for soaring tempers, picky squabbling, and other unpleasantries.

I have to confess, crackers like these Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies are tempting. They’re the perfect size for a toddler’s grasp. They pack easily in ziplock baggies and tuck nicely away into a purse or handbag. And they’re certified organic! They even profess to be GMO-free and have 0g of trans fats. Even the cheese used is organic and growth-hormone free.


Here’s what the manufacturer claims:

  • No cholesterol
  • No sugar added
  • 0g trans fat
  • Low saturated fat
  • Contains no-GMOs

It sounds like every momma’s dream snack; am I right? I mean, what else could you ask for?

Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies: Ingredients

  • Organic Wheat Flour,
  • Organic Expeller Pressed Vegetable Oil (Safflower and/or Sunflower),
  • Salt,
  • Organic Cheddar Cheese (Organic Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes),
  • Yeast Extract,
  • Organic Paprika,
  • Annatto Extract For Natural Color,
  • Organic Ground Celery Seed,
  • Organic Onion Powder,
  • Yeast.

Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies: DECODED

So, let’s start with enumerating all the praise-worthy parts of this food. Every major ingredient is certified organic. YAY. There are no hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils hiding dangerous trans fats! YAY. Even the cheddar cheese used to bake these bad boys is made from organic milk — meaning the cows spend a healthy portion of their lives outside and are raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. YAY!

Now, let’s take a closer look at the ingredients to see what we can uncover.

As I’ve said before, I’m ambivalent about the organic wheat flour. There is a right way to eat grains — a way to make sure they’re properly prepared so that they’re easier to digest. Refined flours are not the right way, even if they’re organic. That said, I maybe — maybe — wouldn’t stress about their presence in a convenience food if it were the only questionable thing wrong with the product. After all, almost every store bought convenience foods requires some sort of compromise. The only ideal food is the food I make in my own kitchen, using ingredients I’ve gathered from the local farmers I trust. So maybe I wouldn’t object to this ingredient, maybe I’d think the compromise was worthwhile, if this were the only thing I found objectionable.

But, this isn’t the only refined, industrialized ingredient found in this food. Nope. Look at that organic expeller-pressed vegetable oil. Organic and natural food labels greenwash their highly refined, industrial oils by saying they’re “organic” and “expeller-pressed”, as if that somehow makes them healthier.

Newsflash! It doesn’t.

Safflower oil is an ancient oil, but the ancient methods of creating it made it suitable only for use in paints. It wasn’t until 1925 that modern, industrial methods of extracting oils from seeds were able to extract an edible oil from the plant. Expeller-pressing subjects the seed to high-pressure and high-temperatures. For a highly-saturated fat (like, say, coconut oil), this wouldn’t matter. But for unsaturated fats, this extraction process rapidly oxidizes the fragile polyunsaturated oils in the seed. Translation? It means they go rancid. In order to make these stinky, rancid oils palatable, they’re then subjected to chemical bleaching and deodorization. The same is true for sunflower oil.

ICK!

To top if all off, a growing body of evidence suggests that these modern, industrially-produced, seed-based cooking oils make you fat in addition to weakening your immune system.

Sadly, there’s something even more glaringly wrong with this food.

Have you spotted it yet?

It’s the yeast extract. Yeast extract always contains processed free glutamic acid — also known as MSG, or mono-sodium glutamate. (Read more about why MSG is dangerous.)

No thank you, Annie’s.

Unfortunately, it’s perfectly legal for a company to say their food product has “No added MSG” so long as they don’t add an ingredient called “monosodium glutamate” to their food. MSG, however, hides in more than 40 commonly used ingredients in industrial food — ingredients like yeast extract. This means MSG can sneak up on you in a whole host of foods that don’t technically have a single ingredient called monosodium glutamate listed on their label.

Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies: THE VERDICT

So, what should you use instead?

Of course, the best option is to make your own crackers. My favorite homemade crackers are these Grain-Free Garlic Rosemary Crackers.

While I’m a fan of making my own convenience foods, I also know that sometimes that’s not very practical in our hectic world. So, when I want to buy a store bought cracker, I buy these Mary’s Gone Crackers Gluten-Free, Original Flavored Crackers. They have zero objectionable ingredients and are flavored with a naturally-fermented Tamari sauce.

Granted, they’re not cheese crackers. Honestly, I’ve never seen a cheese cracker that doesn’t contain yeast extract or another form of hidden MSG. Have you? Please let us know if you find any good cheese crackers in the comments below.

Want Your Labels Decoded?

In this series on Decoding Labels, I’m highlighting deceptive labeling practices, hidden ingredients, and more! If you’ve got a particular label pet-peeve you’d like me to share, please feel free to email me with your idea. It may just turn into a blog post!

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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166 Responses to Decoding Labels: Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies
  1. Sher in Ky
    June 21, 2012 | 3:59 pm

    Is yeast extract another name for nutritional yeast?

    • KristenM
      June 21, 2012 | 4:01 pm

      No. Yeast extract is made differently and comes as a brown paste.

  2. Esme Real-Lee via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:35 pm

    Boooo! Even Annie’s?!

  3. Cindy Harrison via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:37 pm

    Oh COME ON! Boo hisss!

  4. Brandi Heuchert via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:37 pm

    FFFFFF!!

  5. Annie Daiva Kayser via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:38 pm

    oh man!

  6. Jen Condon via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:39 pm

    Dammit, Annie’s, dammit.

  7. Jamison Pollitt via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:43 pm

    what’s so bad about MSG?

  8. Caitlin Gerhart via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:43 pm

    really? i knew it.

  9. Rick Smith via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:44 pm

    Do I have to grow my own wheat and milk my own cows? For crying out loud ….

  10. Ginger Jilek via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:46 pm

    NoOOOOOOO! I give these to my boys. Out the window they go! Gosh, there really are no good snacks that are nutritiously dense on the store shelf; or is there? Suggestions?

  11. These are pretty good, the brand uses palm oil which is a stable fat. http://www.latejuly.com/late_july_organic_snacks/nutrition_facts/

  12. Jen Condon via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:50 pm

    @Ginger, I think nuts and LARABARs are about the only way to go.

    • Natalya
      June 24, 2012 | 9:50 am

      Jen,
      Unfortunately Larabars are owned by General Mills and will not reveal sources for any of their raw materials. I used to give these to my daughter, but after emailing to ask where they sourced ingredients and being told (essentially) “none of your business,” I never bought another one again. But I agree, they were good when they were independent.

  13. Willandsusan Revak via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:51 pm

    yes Rick, or make friends with your neighbors who do. Know your farmers.

  14. Karly Casey via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:52 pm

    Calm down! MSG is pretty much unavoidable if you buy *anything* pre-made! So, before your toss your bunnies, consider everything else in your pantry! I absolutely can NOT make everything organic & from scratch. I just can’t. I’d rather eat cheddar bunnies than cheez-its any day!!

  15. Leola
    June 21, 2012 | 4:53 pm

    Yay! I guessed it. I’ve been on the hunt for hidden MSG for years, though. Boo hiss for the deception that this product is healthy.

    Thanks so much for this series, Kristen! I love that you’re getting the word out!

    • KristenM
      June 21, 2012 | 5:11 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Leola!

  16. Krista Gallagher via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:53 pm

    MSG is in many, many organic processed foods- especially sauces, broths, and chips/crackers- usually under the names yeast extract, natural flavor, whey, and barley malt extract. It is better to just avoid that stuff altogether- anything that comes in a box is generally not the healthiest. You can google code names for MSG so you have a list and can identify if a product contains it or not.

    • Rose C
      June 24, 2012 | 12:06 pm

      Now I am really confused. Why would whey be concidered MSG? Whey is the liquid that comes from milk. If I were to read that in a product I would assume that it is whey from organic milk.

      • KristenM
        June 24, 2012 | 12:09 pm

        It’s not in liquid whey, but in whey powders or whey protein isolates. The process of drying the whey is what creates the processed free glutamic acid.

        • Rose C
          June 24, 2012 | 12:25 pm

          Thank you for this information. It will help me make more informed choices for my family.

  17. Kirsten Wingenbach via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:54 pm

    GAH! I thought this was “safe” junk food for my kids.

  18. Karly Casey via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:55 pm

    @Jen…you can’t feed nuts & larabars to toddlers/small children!

    • veronica
      June 22, 2012 | 1:46 am

      I give my 19 month old soaked and dehydrated nuts. Dried fruit is good too

      • Ames
        June 22, 2012 | 2:38 pm

        Veronica: I too, give nuts & dried fruit to my kids – but they have teeth. Depending on your baby, you may have to wait a LONG time to give your kids nuts/fruit because they don’t have teeth (I know of an 18 mo old who only had 2 teeth!). My 6 mo old had 8 teeth, but that is the exception. Plus, some people feel strongly about giving their babies nuts prior to age 2 due to allergies. Snacks for babies can be challenging – not impossible, just not easy!

        • Soccy
          July 17, 2012 | 10:00 pm

          Bananas, peas, peeled grapes, homemade bread chunks, applesauce, cooked carrots, peeled tomatoes. These are the type of snacks I gave my babies. Most traveled well and I could make and keep in the fridge.

          • Missersuem
            July 14, 2014 | 7:54 am

            My kids loved cut up steamed veggies. I would make a batch and just keep them in the fridge. Green beans and carrots were big favorites.

    • Natalya
      June 24, 2012 | 9:52 am

      @Karly, Skip the larabars! Owned by General Mills and won’t reveal sources for their ingredients. I wouldn’t give these to kids (though I used to).

  19. Food Renegade via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:56 pm

    Minneapolis Real Food Lover — Some of Late July’s crackers are pretty decent, ingredient wise. But their cheese crackers also have safflower/sunflower oil, and non-fat dry milk (which contains processed free glutamatic acid). So, I couldn’t put their cheese crackers on my recommended crackers at the end of the post. If anyone out there knows of a cheese cracker that DOESN’T have hidden MSG, please share!

  20. Jen Condon via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:57 pm

    Can you feed them to medium children?

  21. Donna Burgess via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 4:57 pm

    WHAT? Ugh!!

  22. Vesta Insam via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:01 pm

    This makes me so angry.

  23. Candace Musmeci via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:01 pm

    but Palm oil is gained by clear cutting the entire orangutan habitat… so really? you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t…

  24. Karly Casey via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:03 pm

    @Jen…. well, yes. Children over 5 would be “medium” I suppose. Nuts & other “hard to chew” things are serious choking hazards to kids under 5.

  25. Carol McIntosh Wagner via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:07 pm

    Bottom line is to try to live without the wheat.

  26. Bree Leon via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:12 pm

    @Ginger- my son’s snacks are nuts, fruits & veggies, homemade ‘granola bars’ http://www.kumquatblog.com/2012/03/blueberry-coconut-pecan-breakfast.html (I make a large batch and freeze them) and rice cakes.

  27. Cecilia E Long via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:12 pm

    But for those of us who dont have the time nor the area to home make snacks and want one on OCCASION, it is better then the regular mainstream stuff and hence i will munch on occassion

  28. Cave Frau Paleo Cooking via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:16 pm

    I love your “decoding”! Great stuff, thank you!

  29. Nancy Keighley Petino via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:16 pm

    I am devastated for my 2 1/2 year old son. They are his FAVORITE snack food. : (p

  30. Sheila
    June 21, 2012 | 5:19 pm

    This makes me sad. I like Annie’s Homegrown products. I don’t have time to make all my food from scratch, and I try to buy the best convenience food out there. Of all the crackers in the world Annie’s has to be better than 97% of them, right? How for a bad for a body is expeller-pressed safflower and sunflower oils compared to other oils? (I’ve stopped eating canola oil, I thought safflower and sunflower oils were okay. I buy the organic Spectrum branded kind from PCC. I only use it when making pasta because I heard boiling olive oil makes it carcinogenic.) Is a tiny amount of MSG terrible? I love reading your blog, Kristen, you teach me so much. Because of you, I’ve stopped drinking juices, knocked off the soy products, started drinking kefir, read labels more carefully, and regret stocking up on “organic raw” agave nectar. So I want you to know I do listen to you.

    • KristenM
      June 21, 2012 | 5:29 pm

      Hard call! If you’re not eating MSG hidden in other convenience foods, and if you’ve never had a reaction to MSG, and if you’re not pregnant, nursing, or trying to conceive, then a little bit of MSG isn’t the end of the world.

      BUT!!! The safflower and sunflower oils are downright unhealthy. One of the BIGGEST changes we can make for our health is to switch to healthier fats and oils. I’ve actually argued that it’s the single most important thing we can do (although sometimes I change my mind and say eliminating refined sweeteners & refined grains is the single most important thing we can do).

  31. Sarah Kirkell via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:23 pm

    We don’t do grain anymore, but when we did, we made our own replacement with NT yogurt dough, cut into small fun shapes and baked with cheese on top. Easy if you do a lot at a time.

  32. Valerie
    June 21, 2012 | 5:31 pm

    Lol! I’m reading this as I sit next to a box of these Organic Cheddar bunnies that I just finished. The only reason why I bought them was because my 2 yr old stays in the nursery at church and I was looking for an alternative to their kool-aid and goldfish option. But you just reminded me I should make my own. I’ve made the yogurt dough crackers before and they weirdly taste like cheddar.

  33. Jewel PoisonedIvy via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 5:51 pm

    As a label-reader, I know of this misleading stuff. I don’t trust them! :/

  34. Amanda McCandliss via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 6:00 pm

    The good news is that I found a really good, easy recipe for cheese crackers with 4 ingredients: cheddar, butter, flour and water. http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/desserts/homemade-goldfish-crackers/ The trick with this recipe is to roll the dough fairly thin because they puff up a little. It went fast for me and I am usually opposed to the rolling pin!

    • jsb
      June 21, 2012 | 8:54 pm

      Yay! Thanks for sharing the link for these crackers!!

  35. Amanda McCandliss via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 6:01 pm

    MSG is in everything it seems. Really hard to avoid if you are not careful and know what to look for! :(

    • B Lam
      June 25, 2012 | 8:52 am

      Don’t breast feed then, for goodness sake – check out the MSG level in mother’s milk (second only to Chimpanzee’s apparently).

      • Sarah
        July 17, 2012 | 2:23 pm

        MSG levels are high in mother’s milk because of mothers consuming it. Mother’s who aren’t consuming it won’t secrete it. I think that’s part of the point of the “Decoded” series – to uncover hidden sources so you can make the call for yourself.

  36. Amanda McCandliss via Facebook
    June 21, 2012 | 6:05 pm

    Forgot to add that I used fresh ground white wheat in the recipe and they came out perfectly! Last comment, promise. ;-)

  37. Sarabeth
    June 21, 2012 | 8:38 pm

    Much as I love Mary’s crackers, no kid will settle for them after having tried Annie’s cheddar bunnies, I hate to say. I’m just glad my kid isn’t eating Cheetos. And I don’t know what we’d do without Annie’s macaroni and cheese, frozen pizza and lasagna – other organic brands can’t compare taste-wise. One does the best one can in an imperfect world, and one can do a lot worse than Annie’s.

    • KristenM
      June 21, 2012 | 8:39 pm

      Even when smeared with almond butter or cream cheese? My kids go nuts for Mary’s.

    • Smooey
      May 25, 2014 | 11:30 pm

      Sarabeth’s right though, almost every single thing contains GMO’s, and or other harmful chemicals and etc. I’d rather eat something that’s 90 – 95% non-gmo, than something that’s 90 – 100% total gmo.

      The only sure way to not eat any gmo at all, is find local farmers that you know for sure don’t use chemicals and such on their crops and they’re 100% non-gmo farmers, or grow your own foods and make sure the seeds are non-gmo seeds.

      Also, don’t forget the BPA chemicals in plastics for microwavable meals, once heated in microwave the BPA chemicals release into the foods, plastic water bottles, fluoride in toothpaste, tap/city water and other things fluoride is in.

      Anything “smart” is bad as well, smart phones, modern video games like Xbox / playstation, smart meters for the electric control on side of your house, the wifi internet in the house or any where else, let’s not forget microwaves themselves and many other things.

      You really can’t escape it, “they” want to soft kill us all, any which way possible they’re getting us. I’d rather eat Annie’s versus other foods I’ve been eating for years that have been more toxic.

  38. Betsy
    June 22, 2012 | 12:57 am

    My thought is the same as one above. All the healthy alternative fats are the same ones that threaten the natural habitat of so many of our favorite zoo animals. This is so overwhelming to me. And Jane Goodall.

  39. Amy
    June 22, 2012 | 9:38 am

    Well, shoot! Have you ever approved anything you’ve decoded? ;-) I can’t even stand the taste of Mary’s Crackers, so I definitely don’t expect my kids to – but now they won’t be eating Annie’s either! MSG is a deal-breaker. And thanks for turning me on to what yeast extract really is. Thank goodness for Cheeseslave’s sprouted cracker recipe. And maybe I’ll check out the Late July suggestion above, because we are not as perfect as those who don’t eat any wheat or processed food at all.

    • KristenM
      June 22, 2012 | 10:25 am

      Not yet! I half approved Green & Black’s Organic Hot Cocoa, depending on their answer to my question. And, I half approved McCormick’s Pure Vanilla Extract, assuming that the ingredient list doesn’t contain corn syrup (since some do and some don’t). I am open to approving something! Clearly I offer recommended “solutions” at the end of each post, and I approve those. I’ve only done a handful of these posts so far, so I’m hoping that in the near future a big APPROVED stamp will be prominently displayed at the bottom of one! Surely, not every food out there is a miss, you know?

  40. Patti
    June 22, 2012 | 12:57 pm

    THANK YOU.
    I don’t eat these crackers or buy convenience food as a rule, but the info on hidden MSG was invaluable. Grateful…

  41. Kelly
    June 22, 2012 | 1:24 pm

    Thanks for this. This is sad and tough! I brought Annie’s snacks to my son’s school as an alternative to the other crap they get for parties etc. We’re not allowed to bring in homemade foods because of allergies and regulations from the state. The items have to be made in a commercial kitchen. Maybe I need to rent a commercial kitchen to make my goodies? :)

    • Cady
      June 26, 2012 | 11:10 am

      I have the same rule at my son’s daycare. It makes it difficult!

  42. Andrea Newman
    June 22, 2012 | 1:26 pm

    What a disappointment! I buy these from time to time because I loved Goldfish before becoming a Real Foodie. Guess I’ll be taking these off the grocery list! Thanks for breaking it down.

  43. Kelly
    June 22, 2012 | 1:37 pm

    This was their response to a post on FB “The natural yeast extracts in our bunny crackers are made from food grade baker’s yeasts, no manufactured MSG is added to our products. We care a great deal that our products are very clean and that we do not use artificial flavors, colors or enhancers.” What do you think?

    • KristenM
      June 22, 2012 | 1:41 pm

      Baker’s yeast and yeast extract are two different things. The process of making the yeast extract is what creates the processed free glutamic acids.

      Unlike baker’s yeast (which serves as a leavening agent), the ONLY purpose of yeast extract in a food product is as a flavor enhancer. Think on that a moment. There’s a reason why yeast itself is NOT a flavor enhancer, but yeast extract is. (HINT: It’s the processed free glutamic acids, also known as MSG!)

      • Kelly
        June 22, 2012 | 2:11 pm

        That’s what I thought! The poster said she and her kids were allergic to MSG and were thinking of buying these and this was their response. Sad :(

  44. Josefina
    June 22, 2012 | 2:02 pm

    Refined flours are not the right way to eat grains? How come so many traditional people refined their grains and were able to enjoy good health? Whole grains retain a large part of their anti nutrients despite souring or sprouting processes. Just because something contains nutrients, doesn’t mean it’s good for us.

  45. mary marraccini
    June 22, 2012 | 3:05 pm

    Having a degree in food and nutrition, I found your comments to be A++++ It’s often so much more than reading the label!! I wanted to add that my dentist (also my sister) told me that crackers such as these or the original duck shapes, are terrible for children’s teeth!!! I cringe when I see mom’s handing out baggies of cheddar crackers, knowing the teeth they are ruining. These crackers adhere to the surface of the teeth and are cavity producing!! Graham crackers are guilty of the same offense. In a time when childhood obesity is rampant, we need to look back to the June Cleavers, who stressed the 3 square meals and limited if not omitted snacking!! If you must keep your cranky child in line by giving him/her snacks in plastic (yuk!!) bags, make it a healthy, dental friendly snack…….pleez!!

  46. Diane
    June 22, 2012 | 8:04 pm

    Firstly thank you for making the effort decode misleading food labels. But I think that the problem is actually not the snack foods in question, but the whole concept of giving children “snack food”. Blessed with a traditional country upbringing, we had three meals a day and morning and afternoon tea. And thats it. And life was busy, with long commutes just to get into town and school. It just that things were done differently, with differnt priorities. It is the whole concept of feeding children without routine that is at the heart of the problem. I don’t get the whole snack and “treat” food concept. It is noticible that young children now never experience being truely hungry. I have found with my kids and grandchildren, going to bed hungry when they won’t eat what they should be eating, the best method to get them to eat what I want them to. It sounds tough, but it worked for many generations.

    • miriam
      June 26, 2012 | 12:46 pm

      This is wonderful ancient wisdom….What culture thinks it is good to respond to whining? It is what we promote with this lifestyle. It creates wide swings in blood sugar, it does not allow for full digestion. When going off all grains, the need for eating more disappears. Why? Are we gunking up our receptors for real food with junk like porcessed cookies. THANK YOU FOR THE ANALYSIS. You are doing such important work with your site.

  47. Jade
    June 23, 2012 | 1:17 am

    Last time I checked the label on Mary’s original crackers there was soy, oil I think it was, on the ingredient list. That is the only selection Costco has, so I don’t buy them anymore, but my kids did love them.
    I’ll have to check the other flavors at the grocery store and see if it is different. Also recheck the ingredient list on the original.

    Love your decoding of labels.

    • Jade
      June 23, 2012 | 1:28 am

      I just found a ingredient list online and the soy is not listed. Now I really want to go to the store to see. I am in Canada, so that could be the difference.

    • KristenM
      June 23, 2012 | 10:58 am

      They have a number of varieties, so perhaps that’s it?

      Or, perhaps you’re confusing the tamari (a naturally-fermented soy sauce) with something bad or undesirable? (It would only be bad if you had a soy allergy. Otherwise, the fact that it’s fermented helps negate any of the dangers of consuming soy.)

      • Julie D.
        June 29, 2012 | 9:54 pm

        Thee is no soy oil in any Mary’s crackers.

  48. Cherie
    June 23, 2012 | 2:46 pm

    I was already so disappointed with the Kashi company, now Annie’s! It is so hard when you have kids. They want what the other kids are eating and so you try to find the more healthy version. I guess the key is to eat very little that is processed. My daughter loves to sit and eat a bowl full of berries! They just don’t do well in a zip lock baggie when we are out running around and she wants a snack.

  49. Kimberly
    June 26, 2012 | 11:28 am

    Interesting comment about snacking between meals. We do not snack when we’re out and about, either. My daughter does like crackers at home from time to time. Sounds like making crackers would be a good project! Thanks for the post! You answered a question I had about that type of oil. It’s found in one of my favorite snacks and I seem to feel better after not eating them for awhile!

  50. Andrea
    June 26, 2012 | 12:10 pm

    Have no fear kiddies…take some authentic Romano cheese (Locatelli brand from Italy is fab), and put teaspoons of it on a baking sheet…bake for 5 mins at 350 until golden, remove from oven, cool and you’ll have THE best cheese “crackers” you’ve ever tasted! :)

    • KristenM
      June 26, 2012 | 12:13 pm

      Sounds like my recipe for Parmesan Crisps. The downside to this is that they don’t keep well in heat. They’re just fine at room temperatures and up to about 90F. But, here in Texas, the inside of my care is often 140F when we first get in it, and the outside temp is 105.

  51. Jennifer
    June 27, 2012 | 12:16 am

    Mary’s Gone Crackers are DISGUSTING!!! (At least the plain ones are! They taste like freakin’ cardboard!) My 15 year old daughter calls them “MARY’S GONE WRONG” — And dang, is she right! I just try to make our snacks & things from scratch. Then I always know what’s in them.

  52. Melissa Carey
    July 9, 2012 | 10:17 pm

    But Mary’s co taints soy. Is Tamari in crackers also fermented?

    • KristenM
      July 10, 2012 | 11:27 am

      Yes, Tamari is by definition fermented.

  53. Rebecca at "Die, Food Dye!"
    July 18, 2012 | 7:40 pm

    I have yet to find an organic cheese cracker – even the white cheese ones – that don’t contain annatto. Even though it’s a natural colorant, it gives my child and I the same reaction as Red 40 dye. Thanks so much for the cracker recipe, we’ll try this for our upcoming road trip!

  54. Andrea
    September 17, 2012 | 11:11 pm

    I stopped buying Annie’s, and a lot of what I thought were “healthier” snacks after reading a run-of-the mill nutrition book for families. This book was not necessarily advocating real food, but it helped me realize that these crackers are empty calories. Their first ingredient is not whole wheat, therefore why give my kids white flour, even if it’s organic?
    I never thought about the other ingredients, and am learning more and more that you just can’t trust things in packages, and still trying to strike the balance. More and more fruits and veggies and nuts and seeds are becoming our snacks.
    Thanks for the cracker recipe, and thanks for your website and all your research!

  55. andrea
    October 3, 2012 | 3:34 pm

    Not to mention, they are really salty! I’m trying to limit sodium in my child’s diet. These are no longer allowed for snack time for that reason and now all of those listed above. I didn’t know that about yeast extract.

  56. Sharla
    October 17, 2012 | 9:46 pm

    Becoming food aware and a raw foodie is a bumpy journey. Deciphering ingredients in every product you buy is a daunting task but with time it gets easier. Thank you Andrea for the Romano Cheese recipe, I am going to try that. I get migraines from MSG and since I have started preparing all homemade meals my system has gotten even more sensitive to MSG.

  57. Ann
    June 2, 2013 | 9:03 pm

    I think I’ll just stick to Cheez Its…not going to live forever anyway, might as well enjoy my time here.

  58. Eliza
    August 6, 2013 | 11:31 am

    Processed food is processed food. Don’t eat it if you don’t have to. And there is no need to eat any of it. But seriously, *think* people. Of course the Food Renegade is going to reject Annie’s…and almost everything else made with processed ingredients. This was a no-brainer and hardly a surprise.

    If you are going to eat processed food, just eat it. Don’t look for virtue in that ingredient list, ever. You’ll always end up disappointed.

  59. Tiffany
    January 14, 2014 | 10:40 pm

    can I ask just cause im curious…..what are we suppose to eat and buy??? is ANYTHING ok at a groxery store?

  60. Amber Michael via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:16 pm
  61. Hannah Elder via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:17 pm

    Crackers aren’t good for you anyway.

  62. Sabrina McKenney via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:26 pm

    That is not on on our Annies ingredients list

  63. Jennifer Hackimer Johnson via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:26 pm

    They aren’t good for you but unfortunately a snack my children like. I’m sad to read this.

  64. April Hooten via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:28 pm

    Nooooo!!

  65. Jerica Jade Ritchie via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:30 pm

    Jahna Eichel have you seen this?

  66. Alanna Stacey via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:33 pm

    Still less offensive than the goldfish crackers many feed their littles.

  67. Erin Arnold via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:41 pm

    Dang it. I need to be a better label reader

  68. Sarah Backes via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:43 pm

    My head hurts.

  69. Raychelle Benitado via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:44 pm

    Aw man

  70. Erin Sharbrough via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:48 pm

    I just recently bought a box and there is no powdered whey or yeast extract on the ingredients list. It does have the sunflower oil, though.

  71. Holly Merrick via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 10:57 pm

    Oliver Merrick read this…

  72. Gayle Trepanier via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 11:03 pm

    I stopped buying crackers, chips, etc, when our dentist said that he thought they contribute to tooth decay bc the simple carbs stick to teeth worse than most candy, and the sugars cause problems. Funny thing is that I really do not miss them. We’ll get chips for a cookout from time to time, but that’s about it. Guess we really don’t need the extra calories or additives.

  73. Kyle Coons via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 11:17 pm

    I don’t understand how this is relevant. Obv crackers are junk food. There’s no such thing as healthy crackers.

  74. Kimberly Dickson via Facebook
    May 3, 2014 | 11:43 pm

    Seriously, dang it. These are the only crackers we buy from time to time, and my boys like them. Gah, are there ANY convenience foods that aren’t full of crap?!

  75. Jahna Eichel via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 12:11 am

    Jerica Jade Ritchie holy crap. I’ll tell you I knew the safflower oil wasn’t the greatest but it was just one of those “agh its better than anything else right now” scenarios, I didn’t know yeast extract=MSG I will be raiding my cabinets tomorrow now to toss anything with “yeast extract” in the ingredients. I’m surprised that it went under my radar for so long!!

  76. Tori Stewart via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 12:47 am

    The sadness abounds!!! Though, it explains my recent migraines while on a road trip where Cheddar Bunnies and Clif Bars were my main source of nourishment. :/

  77. Maggie Penry-Cole via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 4:17 am

    Annie’s… you disappoint me! Seriously, I shouldn’t have to play baker, chef, nutritionist, and esthetician to be assured quality products without being mislead. My business = gone.

  78. Jenny Rocco via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 4:32 am

    nit picking…make it yourself then. We grew up well behaved without snacks.

  79. Jill Herron Chapin via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 5:54 am

    Annie’s makes crappy food anyway. The original Cheez-it (not any of the flavored ones), doesn’t contain any hidden MSG. It DOES contain other crappy ingredients, but, they taste good and don’t give me a rash, so when I want a convenience cheese cracker, this one is my choice.

  80. Jill Herron Chapin via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 5:56 am

    Jahna, if you are getting rid of MSG, you’d better look up the list of ingredients that have MSG in them. It’s extensive.

  81. Phillip Dodd via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 6:26 am

    Ah, really? I don’t eat them but SHAME on you, Annie’s!d

  82. Carmen Stramara via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 7:14 am

    Ugh, but THANK YOU!

  83. Renee Slattery via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 7:54 am

    Other MSG foods include, torulla yeast, autolized yeast, modified foods/proteins, yeast extract, carrageenan, and even gelatin can affect people. These things cause inflammation in the body, head aches, and in my son intense coughing/asthma. Symptoms can occur up to 8 hours later and last quite a while. Even unsalted butter and low sodium products can contain a form of MSG.

  84. Amanda DiBiase via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 8:33 am

    Ugh. Say it isn’t so! Kellee so disappointed. We love Annie’s.

  85. Kara Beckner-Evans via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 9:33 am

    Drat.

  86. Ariel Rois via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 9:36 am

    We are screwed when it comes from grocery stores. The only safe food is grown ourselves from organic heirloom seed.

  87. Betsy House via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 9:40 am

    Thanks for the heads up!!

  88. Deborah Higgins via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 11:16 am

    Jonathan Higgins :(

  89. Mary Light via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 11:19 am

    I really wonder why they feel they need to add that.

  90. Micah Peet via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 11:43 am

    Still, I only get headaches from the foods that list msg specificallyn

  91. Bunny Avila via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 11:44 am

    :O :(

  92. Lindsay Haczynski via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 12:30 pm

    Ugh! We have given up on box crackers all together!

  93. Kellee Fell Kleinke via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 12:58 pm

    Amanda DiBiase makes me sad :(

  94. Deanne Nina Dvorak-Trout via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 1:50 pm

    Food Renegade The latest list of ingredients from Annie’s website no longer lists ‘Yeast Extract’. The sunflower oil is still there. Does that change your ‘rejected’ verdict?

  95. Nina
    May 4, 2014 | 1:53 pm

    FYI: The latest listing of ingredients does NOT include ‘Yeast Extract’. The sunflower oil is still there.

  96. Jonathan Higgins via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 4:21 pm

    Dang…I really like them…I’ll finish three chocolate bunnies and be done

  97. Jennifer Bullock via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 4:58 pm

    That sucks!

  98. Rachel Elizabeth Moreland via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 8:02 pm

    Oh no!

  99. Tricia Bankston via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 8:51 pm

    Oh no! We love these. Finally convinced my 13 year old to switch from goldfish to Annies.

  100. Tim Victor via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 10:28 pm

    Theres no concrete evidence suggesting MSG has any ill effects in most people (barring allergies, like all foods). I’m far more concerned with cutting out trans fats, processed sugars and enriched wheat than a perfectly natural salt.

  101. Scaldera Fied via Facebook
    May 4, 2014 | 11:05 pm

    I have a box of these in front of me and it does not say “yeast extract” in the ingredients. Still good to know. Article should of been on the use of the ingredient yeast extract instead of Annie’s.

  102. Mindy Raymond Zea via Facebook
    May 6, 2014 | 10:01 am

    While yeast extract does have glutamates in it, IT IS NOT THE SAME AS MSG. MSG is a synthetic substance, made in a factory. Many foods have glutamates- including butter, milk, and cheese.
    http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/myths-and-misconceptions-msg

  103. April Crook Kee via Facebook
    May 7, 2014 | 9:20 am

    I agree w/ you Food Renegade that this is a “food” to be avoided. So I shared this link and someone commented with the following link. I’m wondering how you’d respond?http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm328728.htm

  104. Jah-nē Abernethy via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 9:31 pm

    Organic processed food………is still processed food.
    I’m still coming to terms with that inconvenient truth :-/

  105. Hannah Lee Nesspor via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 9:37 pm

    And their other products..?

  106. Mindy Cox via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 9:41 pm

    The devil is in the details! I knew this about these. Read labelS!

  107. Kendra Miranda via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 9:44 pm

    I love how you said that there is always comprise to convenience foods. That makes all the guilt I feel when I do feed my kids out of a store not so heavy.

    Also, I saw the yeast extract (MSG) right away because I spent time memorizing all the many names for monosodium glutamate but I never knew about sunflower or safflower oil and all the details you shared.

    Thank you!!

  108. Haley Martin Kunz via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 9:58 pm

    I would love if you did a decoding labels post, or if you could share your thoughts on Ezekial bread

  109. Jennifer Fleming via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 10:16 pm

    Bummer!

  110. Tina Christenson via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 10:24 pm

    MSG

  111. Mike Underwood via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 10:30 pm

    Better than 99% of the other convenience foods out there. Don’t let your kid eat five boxes in one sitting. A small quick snack (as intended to be) and you’a’ll be fine.

  112. Jennifer Johnson via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 10:32 pm

    I read a book 18 years ago that stated the food industry would just rename MSG so we wouldn’t know that it is in food.

  113. Jen Blaylock Greenaway via Facebook
    July 13, 2014 | 10:34 pm

    Dammit!

  114. Rebecca Landau via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 12:25 am

    Thank you FR!

  115. Teresa Bassett via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 12:28 am

    Sad how the baddies sneak into everything

  116. Heather House via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 4:37 am

    Michael House

  117. Katie Azara via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 6:01 am

    Chad Azara

  118. Jessica McNally O'Shea via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 6:24 am

    Bummer

  119. Lena Kramer via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 6:45 am

    That sucks!

  120. Isela Catania via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 7:23 am

    caro

  121. Ida Rose via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 7:47 am

    Liz Fergusson

  122. Denise Robinson via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 8:28 am

    Boo erns

  123. Maurice Person via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 8:35 am

    Dinah Gardenia

  124. Alex Koski via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 9:15 am

    Msg is monosodium glutamate… Yeast extracts and other “msg” names are not msg but different kind of glutamate. Please stop telling people its msg…avoid all glutamate please but let’s use the term correctly.

  125. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 9:24 am

    even just little bit of filth will compromise the source of water. Corruption seeps into the water, and the whole water becomes blackened of corruption.

  126. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 9:25 am

    You can say that for any chemical, especially GMOs. Don’t compromise your water, even if you want to indulge try not to do it. Indulge in some fruits or something you love most or whatever other food that is clean.

  127. Dalia Samak via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 11:02 am

    My box says “yeast”
    Not “yeast extract” am i missing something ??

  128. Food Renegade via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 11:09 am

    Dalia Samak I don’t think so. Apparently yours is made with yeast rather than yeast extract. This happens a lot with processed foods; the ingredients change frequently based on sourcing availability and cost. And since these products have long shelf lives, you’ll often find one package with one set of ingredients in one store and another package with another set of ingredients in another.

  129. Maurice Person via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Food Renegade Thank you for everything you do!

  130. Dalia Samak via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 11:14 am

    So we should always read the label even if we did buy it before !!! They are making it too hard for people to buy healthy food aren’t they ?
    Thanks for the info :)

  131. Food Renegade via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 11:29 am

    Dalia Samak Absolutely!

  132. Elvia Terrazas Rascon via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 2:19 pm

    Thanks! I did almost buy these once, glad I didn’t!

  133. Marisa Tolsma via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 3:06 pm

    I’ve still always considered these junk food, just a little milder than mainstream. Make everything you eat at home!

  134. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 8:04 pm

    wheat even if organic is still a hybrid crop, and humans weren’t meant to handle it. This is why people after heirloom grains instead, for the human body handles it well. After the introduction of hybrid wheat people started getting wheat allergies and whatnot.

  135. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 14, 2014 | 8:05 pm

    einkorn, kamut, spelt. These are three kinds of heirloom wheat seeds.

  136. Crystal Millemon via Facebook
    July 16, 2014 | 12:59 pm

    I’ve been too trusting and giving these to my daughter. It’s always bothered me because I have a gluten intolerance, maybe celiac, and I wouldn’t eat them. What do you suggest for an on-the-go snack for little people that isn’t as hard as the crackers you suggested? We do raisins and fruit/veg pouches.

  137. James Leah Lindsey via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 4:49 pm

    I don’t buy her stuff it’s gross.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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