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In this day and age, when the United States is home to more farmers markets than Burger Kings, it would surely be an anomaly to come across a bakery or sandwich shop that didn’t oﬀer at least one type of whole wheat or multigrain bread. Likewise, ordering Chinese take-out without having the option of brown rice is often met with equal parts surprise and disappointment.
However, there is one type of eatery where whole grains have been slow to join the party. And unfortunately, it’s home to one of America’s favorite foods. That’s right, I’m talking about pizza joints.
Sure, more and more pizza places sell pies with a choice of white or whole-wheat crust. California Pizza Kitchen and Uno Pizzeria & Grill are two big ones that come to mind (big kudos to them and to a few other chains listed on our website). But if you’re hoping to get a few whole-grain pizzas delivered this football season, you might be out of luck. That’s because many of the large national delivery chains are not yet on board.
Pizza is a popular item in school lunches, so companies have been working hard to develop great tasting slices that are whole-grain rich and lower in sodium to meet the new school lunch regulations. Domino’s oﬀers the “Smart Slice” for schools, with a crust made with 51% white whole-wheat ﬂour. Similarly, Pizza Hut’s A+ Pizza program oﬀers a pizza with 51% whole-wheat crust. But these whole grain pizzas are exclusive to school lunch programs, and aren’t yet available for take-out or delivery nationwide.
Based on new research from the University of Minnesota, however, it looks like it’s time for chains to rethink that decision, as more and more people get on the whole grains bandwagon. In this newly published study, scientists conducted taste tests and studied plate waste data with kids in both school and restaurant settings. Not only did they ﬁnd that children consumed as much of the whole-grain pizza as the reﬁned-grain pizza, but they also discovered that liking ratings for the pizza did not diﬀer by crust type.
According to the USDA, “pizza is recognized as a high consumption food and a contributor of nutrients of public signiﬁcance in the American diet.” In fact, on any given day, 13% of Americans consume pizza. While some public health professionals might see that as a cause for panic, we at the Whole Grains Council see a huge, untapped opportunity to introduce whole grains into the diet. Indeed, based on the study described above, researchers concluded that “the impact on whole-grain intake could be substantial if large, national restaurant chains served pizza made with whole-grain crust.”
Better ingredients for better pizza? Only time will tell. (Kelly)