2017 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo

Sorghum Checkoff staff represented Sorghum. Nature's Super Grain™ at the 2017 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo™ (FNCE) in Chicago, Illinois, in October. During the 100th anniversary of the show, sorghum was on display for more than12,000 dietitians, nutritionists, policy makers, health-care providers, foodservice professionals and students to learn about the health benefits, versatility and production of the whole grain. This was the checkoff’s most successful outreach in promotion efforts for sorghum within the consumer food market.

With an inviting atmosphere, attendees received the full sorghum experience at the Sorghum Checkoff tradeshow booth. Upon entering, guests sat at picnic tables decorated with sorghum floral arrangements and sorghum grain, flour and popped kernels, and they enjoyed numerous sorghum recipe samples, educational material and conversation with sorghum staff, dietitians and chefs.

InHarvest, a company who provides support to the foodservice industry through products and recipes, utilized sorghum in their grain medley with naked oats and wild rice, serving attendees quesadillas, Thai bowls, barbecue pilafs and smoothies made-to-order as they sat inside the sorghum booth.

"Nutrition has become front and center for all segments of the food industry, and attending this conference on behalf of sorghum is an opportunity to bring key players in this industry like Sodexo to our booth and learn about sorghum," said Michael Holleman, InHarvest director of culinary development. "We are seeing not just individuals, but colleges and universities, business and industry, and healthcare all talking about nutritional content and creativity in meal portions, and sorghum is a great fit in these segments."

Triad to Wellness, a nutrition communications consulting company, also promoted sorghum at the booth. Registered Dietitians Kathy Siegel and Tracee Yablon Brenner shared sorghum’s nutritional portfolio, demonstrating that it is not only a tasty grain but also a healthy one. Sorghum is considered an excellent source of fiber, phosphorous and vitamin B6 in addition to being considered a good source of protein, magnesium, niacin, iron, potassium and selenium. These nutritional qualities promote the health benefits of eating sorghum, such as help with digestive health regulation, immune system enhancement and improved blood circulation.

Registered Dietitian Sharon Palmer served up her original sorghum recipes to attendees and shared her experience and love for sorghum. Palmer conducted a cooking demonstration where she served a stir-fried Thai sorghum bowl, spicy avocado sorghum salad and a berry sorghum breakfast porridge. Along with receiving samples and educational information, attendees talked one-on-one with industry experts and learned more about why they utilize sorghum.

"A lot of people may not have tried sorghum before or realize that this is an alternative whole grain that they can recommend to clients," Palmer said. "It is really important that they are able to taste the grain, learn how to use it in different recipes, learn what its nutritional content is and talk to people who have worked with sorghum before."

The sorghum booth was constantly filled with attendees requesting samples and information on how to utilize sorghum in their cooking and how to share it with clients. FNCE was a highly successful trip for the Sorghum Checkoff as it provided additional information to numerous dietitians, nutritionists and other professionals in the foodservice industry who already have a small but growing awareness of sorghum's uses. This was a major opportunity for staff, chefs and registered dietitians to share sorghum's story with others in the consumer food industry and continue to build understanding of sorghum's benefits. The relationships cultivated at this event will move on to create connections and opportunity for sorghum in the consumer food industry, allowing producers another option to consider when marketing their sorghum.

FNCE 2017

Registered Dietitians Kathy Siegel and Tracee Yablon; InHarvest Director of Culinary Development Mike Holleman; InHarvest Chef Jason Ziobrowski; and Registered Dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus at the Simply Sorghum booth during FNCE 2017.