Stores and Consumers Celebrate Whole Grains Month

August 24, 2012

From the upcoming issue of Food, Nutrition and Science, September is Whole Grains Month, and supermarkets are celebrating.

Whole Grains Month is on tap for September, and supermarkets across the country will be joining in to show consumers how convenient and delicious whole grains can be. This year, it coincides with the kickoff of a four-month period when the U.S. government will be focusing its nutrition messages largely on whole grains.

The celebration at Giant Eagle stores sets a good example. Caroline Whitby, RD, Manager of Dietitian Initiatives, is partnering with Oldways and its Whole Grains Council (WGC) to offer store tours, in-store sampling, and even whole grain goody bags for shoppers. Whitby's 21 retail dietitians will lead small groups of shoppers on tours to "Get the Whole Story on Whole Grains." These in-aisle excursions will teach consumers how to identify whole grain products. Stores will also offer a “Dietitian’s Pick” in-store demo on the first and third Saturdays of the month – with whole grains incorporated into the mix.

The WGC is providing Giant Eagle with informational brochures and Just Ask for Whole Grains buttons, which will be bundled with coupons and other goodies for shoppers. WGC staff are also helping match Giant Eagle’s sampling company with manufacturing partners interested in sampling opportunities.

Other chains are also making plans. Ayn Pavek, Supermarket RD at the Faribault, Minnesota Hy-Vee store, says, “I LOVE my whole grains, and knowing it was Whole Grains Month in September, I planned two events to promote and celebrate the occasion.” She’ll bracket the month, with events on September 6th and 27th, sharing recipes and product information – including portion control education – with shoppers.

Cynthia Harriman, Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies for Oldways and the Whole Grains Council, reports that information about gluten-free whole grain choices will be a big part of the WGC’s outreach for Whole Grains Month. “Gluten free doesn’t mean whole grain free,” says Harriman. “Most grains are gluten free with ten good GF choices from amaranth and buckwheat to corn and rice. Whether you’re following a gluten-free diet or not, eating a wider variety of grains leads to better health, just as eating a wider variety of fruits and vegetables is healthy.”

To help supermarkets educate shoppers on this topic, the WGC has prepared a turnkey newsletter article for store circulars and websites explaining which grains are gluten free and offering other advice on this hot topic. The non-profit organization is also offering supermarket RDs a PowerPoint deck on gluten-free grains. Both resources are part of a new program from Oldways called the Oldways Nutrition Exchange (O.N.E.), which will supply supermarket RDs with useful resources on popular themes. The program is set to launch October 1.

Beyond these supermarket-specific resources and plans, Oldways and the Whole Grains Council are also putting together two exciting Whole Grains Month initiatives open to everyone.

First of all, the WGC has created the Whole Grain Deal of the Day, offering 30 days of whole grain surprises on the WGC’s web site. Each morning in September, another door of the online calendar will open and go live, revealing a link to a contest, a coupon, a giveaway, or any number of whole grain goodies. 

Deals and offers are courtesy of Whole Grains Council members including Attune, Barilla, Bob’s Red Mill, Dr. Kracker, Frontier Soups, Gluvana, Goose Valley Natural Products, Home Free, Indian Harvest, Jovial, Kashi, King Arthur Flour, Lundberg Family Farms, Mestemacher, Nature’s Own, Pamela’s Products, Popsalot, Quaker, Smart Delights, Upfront Foods, and Wheat Montana.

In addition to the Deal of the Day, the WGC is partnering with EatingWell magazine to introduce the Whole Grain Makeover Contest*. The editors of the popular magazine are on a coast-to-coast search for a healthier, whole grain spin on well-loved, classic recipes.

Whole Grains Month was first celebrated in 2007, as whole grains started to become more mainstream. According to Mintel’s Global New Product Database, whole grain product introductions more than doubled from 2006 to 2011, as manufacturers began to perfect their skills in making products that are both delicious and healthy. Studies show that eating whole grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, with some studies showing reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. Other benefits include reduced risk of asthma, healthier blood pressure levels, and better weight control.

“We urge everyone to celebrate Whole Grains Month in September, by enjoying whole grains every day!” said Harriman.

*To enter the Whole Grain Makeover Contest, home cooks must give one of their favorite recipes a whole grains makeover using King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour or Lundberg Family Farms Brown Rice. Visit to enter and submit recipe(s), from August 20 to October 22, 2012.