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(Excerpt from Boston Globe article)

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Delicious and better for you, whole grains are hitting the supermarket shelves

By Leigh Belanger, Globe Correspondent | January 5, 2005

The past few years have been hard on carbohydrates. They've shouldered a lot of the blame for making us an overweight nation. They've been shunned and vilified by dieters and nutritionists. Last September, when Interstate Bakeries, makers of Wonder Bread and Twinkies, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it seemed like carbs were directly responsible.

That same month, another titan of the food industry made a different declaration. General Mills announced it would use whole grains in all of its cereals. As a result, the company became part of a growing trend. The whole grain movement, which has been gaining popularity in recent years, has found a place on the bread aisle. If you want to buy a hearty loaf these days, you can go to your local supermarket. ''You'll see that the trend is definitely headed in that direction," says Chris Smith, president of New England Baking Companies, owners of Matthew's All Natural Breads. When you see Wonder Bread's whole wheat sharing space with sprouted wheat loaves from Vermont Bread Company, you know that manufacturers are taking the move to whole grains seriously. Carbohydrates are changing color.

A recent Tufts University study concluded that people who ate a plant-based diet rich in whole grains had, over time, less weight gain and lower body mass index. If you begin to change your ways by introducing whole grain breads into your daily regimen, the world of carbs needs some navigation. Dark breads are generally better for you than white, but looks can be deceiving. You get more health benefits from whole wheat flour than from refined all-purpose flour, for instance. But bread manufacturers are not beyond darkening a loaf to fool you. Savvy shoppers need to be label readers, ignoring package claims and studying ingredient lists (see related story on this page). If it's wheat you're looking for, the list must include the word ''whole." And just because pumpernickel is dark and multigrain chewy, it doesn't mean either is made with whole grains.

Artisan bakers have been perfecting hearty loaves since the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s. The generation that made its own bread for decades is now turning to Cambridge-based Iggy's Breads of the World, the Maine company When Pigs Fly, and other natural bakers. Once you get used to the firmer, chewier texture and earthy taste of these breads, it's hard to turn back.

Among these bakers is Nashoba Brook, based in Concord with another location in the South End, which makes a seven-grain bread studded with dates, based on a sourdough starter. With a sweet taste, firm crust, and dense crumb, the bread is a good introduction to whole grain toast. The bakery's rye loaf also has the taste of sourdough; it's milder and more tender than traditional rye. Continued...




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