What's the Story on Whole Grains?

The other night I took advantage of the summer produce and made a delicious ratatouille. I served it on a bed of Trader Joe's whole wheat couscous, and it worked out well indeed. But that meal reminded me of a question I've had about what makes something "whole wheat" or "whole grains."

Anyone who's baked with whole wheat knows that you cannot use only whole wheat flour or your finished product will turn out hard as a rock; you have to cut the whole wheat flour with white flour. I believe it's the same deal with pumpernickel and rye flours.

We live in a marketplace in which it's now possible to buy whole wheat versions of foods that were not originally so, necessarily, and it's great. I'm thinking of whole wheat noodles, whole wheat bread, whole grain breakfast cereals, and whole grain breads. BUT it occurs to me that the label is tricky, and I haven't heard that there is any government or conventional regulation as to how much whole wheat or whole grains constitute a whole grain product. It's tricky because you're talking about adding something that wasn't there before (that actually was there naturally, but usually is removed) instead of eliminating something such as fat or sugar. Ostensibly, you could add one or two whole grains of wheat or other cereal and say that the entire product is "whole wheat" or "whole grains."

Does anyone know how that works, or is the marketplace potentially misleading when it comes to this kind of healthy food?


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