December 4, 2009

How Wheat Works

A common criticism of the US food system is our utter detachment from the actual production of food ingredients eaten everyday in our diets. The Natural Resources Defense Council says that most produce grown in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets sold.  While consumers are becoming increasingly familiar with the health benefits of dietary fiber, far fewer know much about the nitty gritty of what types of wheat are grown in the US and how that grain product gets from the ground and into our guts.

To help increase knowledge about the production of wheat and wheat foods in the US, the Wheat Foods Council developed How Wheat Works, a rich interactive online overview of how wheat gets from the farm to our fork. The How Wheat Works project uses animated graphics, text and video to guide consumers through the "farm-to-fork experience". The free program is divided into four separate tutorials, looking at planting, harvesting and milling of wheat followed by its trip to our grocery store shelves.

The nutrition education component in How Wheat Works is valuable, reliable and covers the differentiation between whole grain and enriched grain products and the anatomy of a whole grain wheat kernel. There is information on the specific types of wheat grown in the US and participants in the online program can choose to follow production and planting of the type of wheat of their choice.

The four modules of How Wheat Works are packed with statistics and data promoting - as would be expected by the Wheat Foods Council - the role of wheat in the US diet. Some interesting facts about wheat from the website include:
  • The US is the fourth largest consumer of wheat
  • Americans consume more than 1 billion bushels of wheat per year
  • Approximately 3/4 of all US grain products are made from wheat flour
To learn more about How Wheat Works, visit the website to get started.