Sorry, no seeds—or cereal—for me, GM

One of Buffalo’s empty silo complexes—they’re used for art events now.

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.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Agriculture isn’t the habitat loss demon, that mantle belongs to housing. Since the 60s the amount of land being used for agricultural purposes has been steadily decreasing.

    • Hi Karen,

      Yes, I did read that. I wanted to focus on the seed packets, but good that they are doing something that might really help.

  2. I don’t disagree with anything you said. Mostly, as a former Buffalo gal, I like to think there is still some industry left and someone using those amazing grain elevators. My grandfather installed elevators including the one in the orchestra pit in Klehinhans Music Hall and I have a fondness for them.

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