Signage at Mei Mei in Boston

It is difficult to stand out among the ever growing list of food holidays, but then again, we’ve never been ones to back down from a challenge. In the six years since its inception, Whole Grain Sampling Day has blossomed into a full-fledged community event, complete with recipe tastings, giveaways, and even local fundraisers.

Maria Speck and Kelly Toups at Harvard
Photo taken at Maria Speck’s (left) lovely talk at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she shared tips and tricks for cooking with ancient grains.

Although rapidly growing in appreciation and popularity, whole grains are a food group that some Americans continue to fall short on. During this annual celebration, held the last Wednesday in March, businesses and brands from coast to coast band together to encourage customers to branch out and sample a new whole grain they might not have ever tried before. Rather than singling out one grain or another, we celebrate all whole grains, across all communities, in whatever form people can access them.

First and foremost, Whole Grain Sampling Day is a delicious, light-hearted event to help connect people with mouth-watering whole grain foods. FoodCorps, the national organization dedicated to connecting kids with healthy food in schools, shared the children’s whole grain insights on Twitter, while many of the participating schools planned special whole grain tasting activities. Below are a few gems from these junior whole grain enthusiasts:

quote from FoodCorps


kids activities

Here in Boston, we had our own fun trying whole grain samples and specials at various local restaurants. At Mei Mei, a beloved Chinese-American restaurant, dinner guests were welcomed into the eatery with a sign announcing Whole Grain Sampling Day, and servers informed guests that because of the special day, guests could add local, whole grain rye berries to their fried rice at no extra charge. The warm embrace of whole grains by cherished, innovative institutions (Mei Mei’s chef, Irene Li, was recently named a James Beard Award Foundation Semi Finalist) is surely what helps continue to build consumer interest in whole grain foods.

whole grain dog treats

However, what’s most rewarding is that folks are also using Whole Grain Sampling Day as a jumping off point to benefit those in need. In Union Springs, Alabama, the To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company and FPH Bakery hosted a bake sale with sprouted whole grain treats for people and their pets. By the end of the day, they had raised nearly $300 for the Bullock County Humane Society. Similarly, the folks at Upfront Foods spent their day with kids at the Florence Fuller Child Development Centers After School Care program, teaching them about the health benefits of whole grains, and providing granola for the kids to snack on.

These were just a few of our favorite moments from Whole Grain Sampling Day 2017. To make next year even bigger and better, mark your calendar for Wednesday, March 28, 2018. It is never too early to start planning! (Kelly) 

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