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Have you ever heard the expression, “If you build it, they will come?” The same sentiment proves true with grains. Free food is one of the most reliable ways to draw a crowd, so by oﬀering healthy foods and giving people a risk-free opportunity to try them, people turn out in droves, and open their minds to new, nutritious ingredients in the process. This is the thought behind Whole Grain Sampling Day, which we have been celebrating in the springtime for the past 7 years.
Whole Grain Sampling Day 2018 was celebrated on Wednesday, March 28. We partnered with more than 100 diﬀerent organizations and hosted more than 160 live events across the country. Supermarkets like ShopRite, Harmon’s, and Hannaford oﬀered samples of their new whole grain products. University dining halls like those at Stanford, the University of Michigan, Boston University, and many others featured special whole grain menu items. Elementary, middle, and high schools had taste tests and guess-the-grain activities. And healthcare centers from Native American communities to large metropolitan areas featured whole grains in their cafeterias and lobbies to educate patients and staﬀ alike.
At a Whole Grain Sampling Day event at an elementary school in North Carolina, the district dietitian found quite a receptive audience to the cilantro lime quinoa with greens, tomatoes, salsa, cheese, sour cream, and whole grain tortilla chips. “Many of the kids were nutritionally savvy, with adventurous palates. Counterintuitively, Keyser said, the younger the diner, the more open to experimenting.”
That said, the older and retired adults at a local Lifelong Learning Institute in West Virginia might have given those kids a run for their money. In a special Whole Grain Sampling Day class taught by a local dietitian, “Participants shared whole grains they’ve eaten and where they’ve sampled. While some eat in ethnic restaurants, others grew up in foreign countries and shared what is remembered about the agriculture and foods there,” said instructor Cindy Gay, RDN.
Those who’ve always wanted to try whole grain foods like quinoa, muesli, or savory oats were also in for a treat, as companies like Bob’s Red Mill, Grainful, Lundberg Family Farms, and others planned social media giveaways of their products. Now that you’ve had a chance to sample a new whole grain, we encourage you to explore our recipes and cooking tips, to help turn these new discoveries into kitchen staples. Which whole grain will you sample next? (Kelly)