BOSTON — The first Whole Grains Council conference was held a decade ago, during a time when whole grains were not yet mandated in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans or required in school meals. Whole grain products were not a common sight on supermarket shelves or on restaurant menus, in part because of resistance from consumers and manufacturers to give the products a try. The Whole Grain Stamp, a popular symbol now featured on more than 10,000 products, was still in development.
Ten years later, momentum continues in breaking whole grain barriers, Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways, said in opening remarks to the W.G.C. conference on Nov. 9 at the Hyatt Boston Harbor. The theme of this year’s conference is “Whole Grains: Breaking Barriers.”
Ms. Baer-Sinnott identified four major barriers that have been brought down over the past decade.
First, scientific ignorance has been cast aside.
“We know the downside nutritionally of throwing out the healthiest part of grains, and nutrition science supports the healthfulness of whole grains,” she said.
Over the past decade, nutrition policy has been updated to include whole grains, overcoming a second barrier. This includes a prominent position for whole grains in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and in school nutrition policy.
A third barrier, that of figuring how to produce tasty, healthy whole grain products, has been overcome, Ms. Baer-Sinnott said.
“Restaurants and manufacturers have spent lots of time and money making whole grains delicious,” she said.
Finally, consumer attitudes have changed.
“Consumers are embracing whole grains much more than they have before,” Ms. Baer-Sinnott said.
Going forward, the W.G.C. is focused on bringing down another barrier: fad diets and misinformation.“Right now there is a lot of misinformation out there,” she said.