The WGC Team is back from San Antonio and all ﬁred after up after an amazing conference! The Whole Grains on Every Plate conference is our sixth such event to date and we packed the program with interesting, informative, and inspirational content. In attendance were the movers and shakers of science, journalism, and manufacturing, all there to share and learn from one another. I am so pleased with the outcome and am already seeing the ripple eﬀects.
While I’m still recovering from the sheer exhaustion of putting on this incredible event, I am also energized by the collaborative eﬀorts of every attendee to make the most of our brief time together. To give you a sense of what it was like, I have jotted down my highlights here for you.
Putting a Face with a Name
Because most of our behind-the-scenes work at Whole Grain Central is via email and phone calls, we rarely (if ever) get the opportunity to meet our Whole Grains Council members. At the conference, Mallory and I had the pleasure of meeting representatives from so many member companies that previously we had only met virtually. Being able to talk face-to-face allowed for more and better brainstorming opportunities for sharing whole grain ideas among all of us.
Cooking with Whole Grains
Local celebrity chef Keith Cruzan demonstrated three mouth-watering whole grain main dish recipes, which were then served buﬀet-style at lunch to attendees. Chef Keith discussed the importance of layering ﬂavors when cooking healthy, saying, “If it doesn’t taste good, you won’t eat it.” My favorite of the dishes he prepared was butternut squash and whole grain pasta tossed with a creamy mushroom-sherry sauce and garnished with fresh basil – oh my!
Sticking with our theme, there were literally whole grains on every plate! Over the course of the conference, we had opportunities at each meal and break to sample diﬀerent whole grain dishes from our sponsors. Here’s what was on the menu:
- Gorgonzola, caramelized onion and pear tarts made with whole grain pizza crust from Pillsbury
- Amaranth Cakes made with amaranth from Bob’s Red Mill served with tangy tomato chutney
- Whole grain buttery croissants from Banneton Bakery
- Spanish rice made with Mahatma Brown Rice
- Blueberry muﬃns made with Cargill/Horizon Milling muﬃn mix
- Pasta dishes made with Con Agra Ultra Grain Pasta and Lundberg Brown Rice Pasta
- Portobello mushroom stuﬀed with vegetables and germinated brown rice from Grainleaf
- Southwestern chili made with wheat berries from King Arthur Flour
- All of the whole grain wraps, tortillas, and pita breads were from Catallia and Father Sam’s Bakery
- Afternoon cookies made with multigrain cookie mix from Bay State Milling
- Morning cereal selections from Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur Flour, and General Mills
- A variety of rice chips in our lunch bags from Lundberg Family Farms
An Impressive Program
Having a stellar line-up for our ﬁrst night set the tone for our program. Our conference theme was Whole Grains on Every Plate, but our ﬁrst session’s speakers put whole grains on MILLIONS of plates. Reaching the masses, our speakers included: Jennifer Ignacio from Compass Group North America who spoke about the increase of whole grains in the foodservice segment, particularly workplace and hospital cafeterias; Army Lieutenant Colonel Christine Edwards who shared how the military is encouraging whole grain consumption with the troops; and Susan Roberts with the Partnership for a Healthier America, who addressed initiatives in the White House to put whole grains on the American plate.
The sessions that followed over the next two days touched all aspects of whole grains. Statistics-driven sessions from science-based topics were woven in between trend reports from media and consumer perspectives. We also heard the heart-warming stories of three organizations where whole grains are making a diﬀerence to food-insecure kids, cancer survivors, and ﬁreﬁghters deep in the heart of Texas.
And the event just wouldn’t be complete without a little entertainment, right? After a full day of sessions on Thursday, we were able to enjoy some local ﬂavors of San Antonio and were entertained by a strolling mariachi band.
In the end, we learned a lot, made new connections, and had some laughs. By all deﬁnitions, we can call it a successful conference. And before we know it, it’ll be time to begin planning the next one!
Conference materials, speaker bios, program book and recipes are available for download by clicking here.