Just Ask for Whole Grains
 Issue: 69
July 2015
whole grain breads


July GOM   ................................................. 




You can have home-made pizza with a whole grain crust on the table in twenty minutes, when you use whole grain pita bread for the crust. Kids love to "decorate" their own.

Cynthia Harriman, The Oldways Whole Grains Council.




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Dear Friends of Whole Grains,

July's Whole Grain of the Month is wheat, and we're celebrating this versatile grain in all of its omnipresent glory. From a robust and creamy "farrotto" (farro risotto) or cool, crunchy bulgur tabbouleh, to smoky, nutty freekeh, few people stop to appreciate that so many trendy dishes all come from the same humble grain that makes our sandwich bread.

Despite vast differences in flavor, many ancient and heirloom wheat varieties (such as farro, spelt, einkorn, and Kamut® Khorasan wheat) are actually more related to modern bread wheat than you might think! Oklahoma State University Regents Professor of Agriculture Dr. Brett Carver explains that while there is a small (2%) difference in the DNA sequence identity of modern wheat and ancient wheat, the big changes to wheat's DNA happened over 8000 years of evolution and domestication, not in the last 40 years. In fact, much of current wheat breeding is an attempt to recapture some of the genes that have been lost over the years. To learn more about wheat, check out our full feature.
NEW - Whole Grain Lesson Plans Hub            

Summer is in full swing, but we know that educators are working hard to get ready for the new school year. Just in time, we've rounded up the best whole grain lesson plans from around the web. You can browse our full educational resource database - now live on our website - by age group. If you're planning a whole grain lesson for Whole Grains Month in September, this is a great place to start! Click here to link directly to our lesson plans page.  

Refined Grains Linked with Depression  

It seems that comfort foods like refined sweets might not be so comforting in the long run. Scientists in New York analyzed the eating patterns of nearly 70,000 women without depression across the U.S. , then tracked their health records over three years to see how diet relates to developing depression. The researchers found that both refined grains and added sugars were significantly tied to a higher risk of developing depression over the three year study, while fiber, vegetables, fruit (excluding juice), and lactose (a sugar found in milk) significantly lowered the risk of depression. A higher intake of whole grains was also related to a lower risk of depression, although this relationship was not statistically significant. Overall, foods that contributed to a high glycemic index diet were associated with increased odds of developing depression.

Grains and Health: Separating Myths from Facts

Rather than spotlighting one myth this month, we've rounded up some of the best science-backed articles (and one television program) from the popular media. These easy-to-understand pieces from mainstream publications explain grains' role in health in a clear and coherent manner.
  • The Myth of Big, Bad Gluten, by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, The New York Times (July 4, 2015): Research indicates that gluten related disorders have nothing to do with the amount of wheat we've been eating, but are rather a symptom of larger issues with our immune system.
  • The Problem with David Perlmutter, the Grain Brain Doctor, by Alan Levinovitz, New York Magazine (June 24, 2015): Levinovitz warns readers not to fall for "miraculous" single nutrient solutions, and explains how "Grain Brain doesn't fit with the current neurological literature."
  • The War on Wheat, The Fifth Estate, Canadian Broadcasting Company (February 27, 2015): In this excellent, documentary-style program, journalist Mark Kelley interviews William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, and a range of other experts about the alarmist claims Davis makes in his book, demonstrating that Davis's evidence is thin to non-existent.
  • Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free? By Michael Specter, The New Yorker (November 3, 2014): Experts explain how today's wheat is not drastically different from ancient wheat, and cannot explain a rise in celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The article also explores the role of FODMAPs (a group of carbohydrates found in many foods) and modern bread making techniques.
  • This is Your Brain on Gluten, by James Hamblin, The Atlantic (December 20, 2013): In this article, Dr. Hamblin interviews David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, as well as several other medical experts about gluten and health, concluding that, "We do not have reason to believe that gluten is bad for most people."
Whole Grain Momentum in Schools  
 Last month, we had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Whole Grain Summit in Portland, Oregon. One resounding theme was that whole grains are making strong headway in school meals - often beyond what might be expected by recent mandates.

Lisa Feldman, Director of Culinary Services at Sodexo (a foodservice management company for everything from schools to sport stadiums) said that she is "vehemently opposed to any rollback," of the school lunch requirements for whole grains. According to Feldman, "it's ridiculous to roll back on the solutions we've already created. We're where we need to be now."  

Similarly, according to chef Garrett Berdan, child nutrition specialist for Oregon public schools, "There's good opportunity for whole grains in schools. Many kids are sophisticated eaters. They know what quinoa is -- and how to pronounce it!" These encouraging testimonies are consistent with research on the new school lunch standards, where most (70%) students seem to like the new school lunches, and are eating significantly more of their whole grain rich entrees (up from 71 to 84%). For more trends and statistics from the Whole Grain Summit, check out our full blog post recap

Lastly, if you'd like to show your support for keeping whole grain requirements in school, sign the American Heart Association's petition at change.org.


Want to contribute to research on diet and health? Scientists at Tufts University -- including WGC Scientific Advisor Dr. Nicola McKeown (Principal Investigator) - are conducting a research survey focused on a variety of healthy eating patterns and popular diets, from the Mediterranean Diet to Vegetarian to Paleo.

For the first stage of their research, they're looking for adults age 18 and over to take a brief (10-15 min) survey, and they need your help! Please visit http://ow.ly/OsdOn between July 14 and August 31, 2015 to complete the survey.  Thank you!


Best regards from all of us at Oldways and the Whole Grains Council,  

Kelly Toups, MLA, RD, LDN                                   
Program Manager                                                        
Oldways  /  Whole Grains Council       

Cynthia Harriman
Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies
Oldways  /  Whole Grains Council  
Harley Songin                                   
Stamp Program Manager                                                        
Oldways  /  Whole Grains Council          


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