What are Ancient Grains? 

As the name implies, ancient grains are grain varieties that go way back. Thousands and thousands of years back, to the Fertile Crescent. They have not been tampered with to satisfy industrial demands and have remained largely unchanged over the past centuries. This is as specific as the definition gets. 

How has industrialization changed grains? 

Industrialization made food production more efficient thanks to machines. Machines are demanding though, and modern wheat was adapted accordingly. 

Add synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to the mix and you get a high-yielding, low-quality product. For a short while. 

Modern wheat hardly resembles its mama, einkorn. Gone are the long roots that provide nutrition & nourishment, gone are the awns that protect the kernel. Gone is the flavor. 

Modern wheat kernels are much bigger and easier to process than einkorn. On the inside, the bran, germ and endosperm ratio is such that wheat contains much less protein but more carbs than einkorn

FYI, even before machines took over, wheat started to change following domestication and geographical spread. 

So what is the big deal with Ancient Grains? 

They are old and resilient. They serve a wider purpose than being a carb. They generally have longer roots that keep the soil healthy, that serve as natural irrigation systems, and that absorb more nutrients. That’s what makes them nutritious. Firmly rooted in the ground, they stand strong without interference. 

How many Ancient Grains are there? 

Depends on whom you ask. The definition of ancient grains is loose, and may or may not include heirloom grains or pseudocereals. 

Oftentimes, these grains are labelled as ancient: einkorn, emmer, rye, spelt, kamut/khorasan, sorghum, teff, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, barley and amaranth.