Full disclosure: I have a relationship with Cheerios. On any given morning, when I step out into the garden, a pleasant smell, kind of like baking, is often lightly wafting through the air. It’s coming from the General Mills plant down at the waterfront. It started making Cheerios as “CheeriOats” in 1941; they also make several other types of cereal and Gold Medal flour. The plant is one of the last vestiges of a booming grain industry, and features one of Buffalo’s last working grain elevators. I like the smell and the history is interesting. But I don’t buy or eat cereal for many reasons; as breakfast food, it leaves much to be desired. There are good alternatives.
The fact that Honey Nut Cheerios is now including a free pack of wildflower seeds—to “#bring back the bees”—with every box hasn’t been an inducement. As many of you may have probably heard, it’s debatable if all the flower species included are native, or whether they are universally appropriate for each and every area of the US where they’re distributed. Also, if so many large parcels of former habitat hadn’t been taken over to grow the grains that go into Cheerios, bees might not be in such dire straits.
I fell for a big cylinder of wildflower seeds back when I first started gardening. I think I still have some anemone canadensis from that hopeful scattering. I’ve learned since then that mixed bags of seeds will never work as well for me as a few types of well-chosen plants. Over the years, I’ve noticed what bees like and plant more of it, within reason.
Is there such a thing as bee-washing? That’s what this seems like to me, but if more wildflowers come from it, that’s fine too. I’m good with waking up to the smell of baking Cheerios; I don’t need an actual box of them.