Going against the grain: West Seattle HS students’ bread project

February 7, 2013 at 11:31 am | In Health, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 9 Comments

From left, meet Tin Vo, Annalisa Ursino, Renee McMinn, and Megan Duong. They are four West Seattle High School students with one goal: As Megan explains, “We want more families to choose WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT BREAD as their main bread choice,” as a small step toward eating healthier food: “After doing a lot of research, I learned that whole grain wheat bread has so many health benefits that you can’t get through eating other foods.”

They also want to get more restaurant owners to offer whole-grain bread in menu items for kids, instead of defaulting to “enriched white bread,” which doesn’t compare nutritionally. So far – not much luck, Megan explains: “It can be a bit frustrating because we feel as though they aren’t taking us seriously since we are just a small group of teenagers.”

She has hope that getting the information out can make a difference in people’s choices – even kids and teens:

I recently took a survey, asking 10 teens around my age (15-18 years old) and 10 younger kids (6-11 years old) if they would rather eat white bread or whole grain wheat bread. Most of them said white bread, except for four of the ten teens that were surveyed. The four that said they would rather eat wheat bread already knew the health benefits. However, the rest of them who said they would rather eat white bread, claimed that it either tastes better, they were raised to eat white bread, or they didn’t know the difference. After I told them just one fact that simply switching from white to whole wheat bread can lower heart disease risk by 20 percent, according to research from the University of Washington … most were shocked.

After giving them this statistic, I asked them again if they would rather eat white bread or whole grain wheat bread, five of the six teens that first said they would rather white bread chose to eat whole grain wheat bread after finding out it was healthier. Seven of the ten kids who originally said they would rather eat white bread agreed to eat or at least try whole grain wheat bread. After doing this survey, I noticed that many teens and kids don’t know the difference between whole grain wheat and white bread. I think if we spread the fact that it is healthier to eat whole grain wheat bread, many kids would make the switch. If we get enough kids to eat more wheat bread, it could really open the doorway to making healthier choices at the dinner table.

Their project is part of competition for the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America “Star Events” and they’re making a presentation on Saturday, for the chance to move on to statewide competition.

They did get some support, from the Whole Grains Council: “They thought our idea was great and they agreed to send us 100 pins to give out at school and help promote choosing whole grains.”

And they have created this flyer for you to see – even, to share! (It includes contact info if you would like to reach the teens and offer support for their campaign.)

Concludes Megan: “Throughout this project, our ideas have been rejected by many restaurants; however, we are very determined and aren’t willing to give up! We are going to keep fighting to encourage families, children, and teens to live a healthier lifestyle. … we really want to make a difference, but we can’t do it alone.”

9 Comments

  1. Good for them! I would LOVE to see more restaurants have whole grain wheat bread – it would give me more options for restaurants as it’s the only type of bread I’m allowed to eat! It’s pretty limiting! Best of luck to them!

    Comment by Ellery — 11:58 am February 7, 2013 #

  2. Maybe teaming with Great Harvest in the Junction? Also, sharing some home made whole grain bread among peers would create some converts!

    Comment by The Velvet Bulldog — 12:23 pm February 7, 2013 #

  3. I applaud their effort here. It’s good to see teens taking this on.
    .
    I would suggest that they take another look at the finished PDF copy of the flyer…it’s cut off all around when I look at it. Perhaps the initial page size used was off??
    .
    Of interest to those who are curious as to why many go for white bread, there is some science behind it. You can read about that on a recent NPR blog post here. It also talks about a hidden, not so healthy aspect of the Whole Grain Council certified breads (hello, SUGARS!)
    .
    Finally, what passes for “Whole Wheat” at most supermarkets (sadly, including PCC, Whole Foods, and other Co-ops and boutique grocery stores) is really not all that whole wheat. A little bit of wheat germ is tossed in to add texture and the coloring. Additionally, many are still mostly “enriched wheat flour”, which isn’t whole wheat (or any other whole grain). It takes a lot of work to shop knowledgeably about what’s in the food we eat. I highly recommend taking the time to study the labels and get to know what they really mean. Then, pick up a loaf of Essential Baking Company’s Pain du George or Mille Graine (or if you’re at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday, visit Tall Grass Bakery and get a whole grain loaf from them). All are a bit more spendy, but WELL worth the cost over the traditional sandwich loaf.

    Comment by Mark — 12:26 pm February 7, 2013 #

  4. Good for them. We eat 99% whole grain bread, 1% white in the form of baguettes and such. However, on the rare occasion we eat out, we want that sandwich on a delicious slab of white sourdough! Don’t go messing with that restaurants :)

    Comment by Westseattleperson — 12:30 pm February 7, 2013 #

  5. Sounds like a business opportunity to me. Lot’s of people like me prefer whole grain bread for it’s flavor as well as it’s nutritional benefits. I think our young people are amazing!!

    Comment by Norma — 1:22 pm February 7, 2013 #

  6. Good for these teens.
    .
    But, if you are going to quote scientific research, please learn to quote it accurately, and be sure it is relevant to the point you are trying to make.
    .
    The 20% risk decrease in that article was observed in the elderly, so that article would be a good one to quote if you are trying to encourage the elderly to eat whole grain breads.
    .
    If you want to tell younger persons that they will reduce their risk of heart disease by switching bread, you really should dig up a reference or two to scientific research on younger person’s health.

    Comment by Happiness — 4:06 pm February 7, 2013 #

  7. Great research students!

    Comment by Rves — 5:17 pm February 7, 2013 #

  8. I like all types of bread, especially sourdough and multi-grain. I’m eating less wheat now because new studies are showing that wheat products ARE a major contributor to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

    Comment by helridge — 5:28 pm February 7, 2013 #

  9. Hey these kids are actually doing something, let’s simma down now on the armchair critiques

    Comment by Eric — 10:39 am February 8, 2013 #

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