What is the role of grains in climate change? How are grain products processed and brought to the market in different regions of the world? What are the nutritional benefits of eating grains, and how do they impact health and well-being? How do regulators respond to food trends that spread around the world? In this issue of Cereal Foods World, we address these important questions related to the position of grains in the context of the global food system.
The articles in this issue are clustered around a few broad themes: current issues, diversity of grains, and interdisciplinary collaboration in technology development. The issue begins with Andrew Ross’ feature article, which reveals how shifting perspectives on wheat have brought the industry full circle to reinstate wheat’s “health halo” by adding back the dietary fiber, phytochemicals, and micronutrients that were once removed during the milling process. Ross challenges us to consider how a staple food such as wheat could become a specialty food, leaving us to ponder that “what’s old is new again.”
We also look at one of the biggest food trends of this century that is associated with grain consumption: gluten sensitivities and allergies. The gluten-free diet movement has inspired food manufacturers across the globe to remove wheat and other sources of gluten from products and to make bold claims on labels and in advertising. Bruna Mattioni and her co-authors share how regulatory bodies around the world have responded to this consumer trend. The article reveals the similarities and difference in how regulators have interpreted the scientific evidence and responded to marketplace dynamics.
Sustainability emerges as a central focus in any discussion of the global food system. Ryan Kowalski’s feature article explores the environmental benefits of pulses, which produce lower CO2 emissions, as replacements for meat in the diet. Several other articles also touch on how grains contribute to a healthy planet.
Due to their socioeconomic impact, sustainability benefits, and nutritional attributes, cereals and pseudocereals are shaking up the food industry. Ritva Repo-Carrasco-Valencia and Julio Vidaurre-Ruiz, experts in Andean ancient grains, highlight traditional, current, and novel uses of quinoa in light of its “health halo,” as well as less widely known grains such as kañiwa and kiwicha. They also introduce new areas of research to expand the functionality of these ancient crops. Similarly, Tadesse Teferra and Joseph Awika examine the nutritional and environmental benefits of sorghum as a cereal grain crop.
The Issues and Trends section of the issue begins with an intriguing perspective on how agriculture, academia, and industry in Brazil have collaborated to adapt oats to South American environments. Guest Editor Alicia de Francisco assembled colleagues to tell the story of how breeders, researchers, and the food industry have worked across interdisciplinary boundaries to introduce locally grown oats to the Brazilian marketplace. This story provides a model for how cross-boundary collaboration can fuel innovation. Allison Krill-Brown and her co-authors describe a similar synergy as they navigate the uncharted territory of breeding wheat specifically for organic farming and artisanal baking, for which few quality standards and specifications exist.
In another application article, Sandra Vásquez Mejía and Benjamin Bohrer illustrate how dietary fiber can be used to improve the nutritional profile of meat products. The provocative challenge, “Want to meet your daily intake amounts of fiber? Eat a hot dog!,” reminds us to think differently about food classifications.
Finally, in this issue, we shine a spotlight on our colleague, Wajira Ratnayake, who serves as secretary-treasurer of the AACCI — Cereals & Grains Association Carbohydrate Division. We also spotlight the Cereal Science graduate program at North Dakota State University, where Guest Editor Elena de la Peña completed her graduate degree.
The collection of articles in this issue underscore how grain-based foods can help us address key challenges in the global food system: food insecurity, obesity, and climate change. By looking at grains across a spectrum of viewpoints, the rich heritage and evolving role of grains in the global food system comes into focus.