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Consumers Eat Too Much Refined Grain, Too Little Whole Grain

Per capita use of flour and cereal prod- ucts reached 200 pounds in 2000 from an annual average of 155 pounds in the 1950s and 138 pounds in the 1970s, when grain consumption was at a record low (table 2-5). The expansion in sup- plies reflects ample grain stocks; strong consumer demand for variety breads, other instore bakery items, and grain- based snack foods; and increasing fast- food sales of products made with buns, doughs, and tortillas.

Many consumers’ diets now meet or exceed the Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendation for grain products. The Pyramid recommends 9 daily servings of grain products for a 2,200-calorie diet, 6 servings for a 1,600-calorie diet, and 11 servings for a 2,800-calorie diet. The food supply, adjusted for waste in the home and throughout the marketing system, provided an average of 10 daily servings of grain in 2000. This is an underestimate. The food supply database excludes wheat foods not manufactured directly from wheat flour or bulgur. That is, it excludes wheat bran, wheat germ, wheat berries and products manufactured directly from these items, such as Wheaties (cooked, flattened, toasted wheat berries), Shred- ded Wheat, Puffed Wheat, and All-Bran breakfast cereals and Triscuit crackers. Similarly, it excludes whole-grain foods made directly from field corn (for exam- ple, Tostito and Dorito brand corn tortilla chips, corn bran (used in some breakfast

cereals), and popcorn. ERS estimates that these missing items would add an addi- tional serving of grains for an average of 11 daily servings of grain in 2000—the amount recommended for teenage boys or men who engage in heavy physical activity.

However, most people’s diets fall well short of the recommended minimum three daily servings of whole grain prod- ucts. The mean daily intake of foods made from whole grains was one serving in USDA’s 1996 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals. According to the survey, only 7 percent of Americans ate the recommended three or more serv- ings of whole-grain foods a day.

Table 2-5

Annual average grain consumption was 45 percent higher in 2000 than in the 1970s

Annual averages

Item

1950-59

1960-69

1970-79

1980-89

Pounds per capita

155.4

142.5

138.2

157.4

125.7

114.4

113.6

122.8

15.4

13.8

11.0

17.3

5.3

7.1

7.3

11.3

1 Includes oat products, barley products, and rye flour not shown separately. Source: USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Total grain products Wheat flour Corn products Rice

1

190.6

199.9

141.8

146.3

24.5

28.4

17.5

19.7

Profiling Food Consumption in America | 19

1990-99

2000

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