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Quick spot quiz. Imagine you’re at a buﬀet. Which descriptive label would be more likely to entice you to pick a vegetable dish?
A. Butternut squash
B. Slow-roasted, caramelized butternut squash
C. Butternut squash, high in antioxidants
D. Low-sodium butternut squash, no added sugar
According to a study appearing this week in JAMA Internal Medicine, most people would choose (B), the “indulgent” label, with its mouthwatering descriptions tied to taste. In fact, in tests of 27,933 university cafeteria diners and a range of diﬀerent vegetables and descriptions, the veggies with Indulgent labeling were chosen 25% more often than those with Basic labeling (such as A); 35% more than Healthy Positive labeling (C); and 41% more than those with Healthy Restrictive labeling (D).
This isn’t the ﬁrst study to ﬁnd that labeling something as healthy can be the kiss of death in marketing – especially if that healthy label emphasizes what’s been taken out to get there. We also heard this message – “Avoid the ‘H’ word!” – over and over at our most recent Whole Grains Council conference. So why is it that we continue to divide the world of food into just two camps: “Good for you” and “Tastes good” as depicted on this birthday card my son gave me once? Why can’t we promote the fact that there’s a third choice – “Tastes Good, Good for You?”
Let’s all make a pact, today, to apply the lesson of indulgent labeling to whole grains. Bring on the adjectives, and get creative. Spread the word about the wonderful tastes and textures of whole grains, and let health just come along quietly for the ride. Maybe the WGC can give out awards at some point, for the best to-swoon-for descriptions of delicious whole grain dishes.
Chefs are starting to catch on, as this article in Food Business News, details. “Whole grains deliver that deep, soul-satisfying touch,” said one chef quoted in the article. Yeah, wouldn’t we all rather eat “deep, soul-satisfying” food than “healthy” food?
Here are a few dishes and descriptions from around the web, that got us licking our lips. The restaurants serving them are listed with each description:
- Farro, Fennel & Mint with Chili Chia Vinaigrette (Mulberry & Vine)
- Mother Earth bowl with quinoa, barley, farro, roasted sweet potatoes and grilled portabellos (Flower Child)
- Sunny Side Bowl with barley and quinoa, roasted broccolini, pickled sweet pepper, spiced almonds and sorrel pesto topped with a fried egg, sunny side up. (Prawn)
- Goat cheese barley risotto (Tiller’s at the Denver Marriott)
- The caramelized sugars in the dark brown crust combined with the mild but complex sourdough give this bread its outstanding ﬂavor. (Amy’s Bread)
- Homemade farro ravioli ﬁlled with spinach and ricotta with fresh asparagus, roma tomatoes in saﬀron sauce with a sprinkle of pistachio. (Il Farro Italian Restaurant)
- Caramelized custard with millet, almonds, apricot, and dates topped with a crunchy honey-almond tuile (Skipper Canteen, Walt Disney World)
If you’ve run across any delicious descriptions of whole grains lately, share them in the comments! (Cynthia)