Our food has gotten so political that it's hard to know what we're actually eating sometimes - everything depends on the definition agreed upon by a collection of organizations like the FDA, the USDA, and councils (most of which are trying to find a balance between what people should want, what people say they want, and what big business wants).
A box of Lucky Charms says it's "Made with Whole Grains!" But all that means is that there is some quantity of whole grain in it. The label could easily say "Made with Corn Syrup!" and that would be equally as true - but the former is much more sexy on the shelf and makes you feel good when you buy it. So how to know what is good for you and who is telling the truth on the package? Hard to say really. Here's what you should keep in mind.
As defined by the FDA, whole grains are exactly that, the entire grain. This can be any grain: barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn, millet, rice, rye, oats, sorghum, wheat, and wild rice. 100% whole grains must be 100% whole grains. Easy right? That's where easy ends. The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) only defines whole grain when it's 100%. If there is any other percentage of whole grain, it has no definition. So other organizations, like the Whole Grains Council (made up of members of big business), have defined it for us
If a food product is not 100% whole grain or whole wheat, it can still get a "stamp" or blessing from the Whole Grains Council and be labeled as basic whole grain. At minimum, you need to have 8 grams of whole grains per serving to do so - no matter the size of that serving. So it doesn't even need to be mostly whole grain, it just needs to contain 8 grams per serving. So where does that leave us? If it doesn't say 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat, you may be consuming mostly enriched white flour while thinking you're doing your body good with whole grains. Here are some tips to help you make sense of it next time you're at the store.
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