Consumers Don’t Know What Whole Grains Are

Consumers have shown that they’re concerned about eating whole foods, more organics, and less processed foods. But it’s not as easy as just buying whatever’s expensive at the health food store, or assuming that what’s natural is always organic, and vice versa. Consumers, you’re resolving to eat better in 2011. Step number one: educate yourselves.

A report was just released from General Mills, who surveyed over 1,000 consumers on their understanding of whole grain products. This all comes from the USDA’s recommendations for Americans to consume at least three servings of whole grains each day. Apparently, as General Mills discovered, Americans have no idea what a whole grain is.

According to the survey, 61% of consumers said that they eat enough whole grains every day, but figures from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee show that in actuality, a whopping 95% of consumers don’t eat enough whole grains every day. Are we patting ourselves on the backs for something we aren’t really doing?

Maybe. Or maybe we are just confused. Only 16% of consumers understood what the terms “enriched flour,” “multigrain,” or “100% wheat” mean—these are terms, mind you, that are slapped on labels so that consumers can identify what they’re buying. But if you don’t know what the terms mean, the labels are probably not doing you any good in making that healthy buying decision.

Perhaps the saddest figure from the study was that 17% of consumers believed (incorrectly) that whole grains are always organic. In fact, organic foods are those that are grown without heavy pesticides, GMOs, or additives—the term has nothing to do with how much a food is processed after it is grown.

The bottom line? Consumers may need to better educate themselves on nutrition before they make a leap into healthier resolutions for the New Year. Get the lingo down first, and then get the goods at the store. Start here to learn more about what whole grains really are.

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