Welcome to the Grain Revolution

Here’s a paradox: Americans eat plenty of wheat, about half a pound of wheat flour per day1, yet remarkably, most of us don’t know very much about this vital grain. Most of the wheat we eat is highly processed in breads, cakes, snacks, even pizza crust. There is lots of evidence that the “healthier” way to eat grains, including wheat, is in their whole form, or with as little processing as possible. Whole wheat, sprouted wheat, and the fresh flour from grains milled whole taste better and provide more nutrients than highly processed white flour. But somehow consumers haven’t adapted their eating habits to reflect this information. Despite government dietary guidelines and consumer information campaigns, whole grains remain under-consumed every day and everywhere2.

One of the pivotal studies that drew the Food Lab toward preparing a whole grain guide appeared in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2019:
Scientists sought to identify the world’s three foods that inflict the most damage to human health and longevity. Two decades and 195 countries later, they ascertained that the culprits are too much sodium, not enough fresh fruit, and not nearly enough whole grains3.

Not consuming enough whole grains can inflict damage to human health and longevity. Our goal is to reverse that, with your help! Over the past year, inspired by research studies, taste tests, and baking adventures, we’ve plunged deep into the wide world of whole grains, a food so taken for granted it was the last food classification to be acknowledged by the farm-to-table movement.

This Guide is the result of our research and passion for the subject, and it’s designed for you – a chef or cook or baker working in an institutional or large group kitchen, and feeding a variety of people – often numbering in the thousands per meal – who may or may not want to add whole grains to their diet. We want to give you tools to inspire them to eat more whole grains every day, and also encourage you to adapt your favorite recipes and dishes to include whole grains whenever possible.

You’ll discover that we focus on grains and whole-grain flours because we think of them as superfoods, super healthy for people, and, often, unexpectedly delicious in a cookie, a loaf of bread, or a pizza crust. We want you to learn more about them – how we define them, how to cook and bake with them, even how to create your own local grain economy. We hope this Guide will be a tool for change as you explore the fun of cooking, baking, and eating whole grains.

We are not expert agronomists, bakers, chefs, farmers, or nutritionists, but we have consulted with those who are, and we have compiled advice and information that we are eager to share. We support our opinions with trusted science, but here and there you’ll encounter views based primarily on professional experience narrated by people we trust. These opinions flow from an objective we share with our contributors: to provide relevant information that will help build sustainable and delicious pathways to the greater consumption of healthy grains.

[1] https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(19)30041-8/fulltext
[2] https://www.world-grain.com/articles/9720-u-s-per-capita-flour-consumption-holds-steady
[3] https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2005/april/americans-whole-grain-consumption-below-guidelines/