Is your bowl of quinoa getting you down? While there are a lot of super foods and power charged grains out there, not all of them come from your backyard, and that means that sometimes, like quinoa, they come at a cost. The good news? There are a lot of grains that are grown closer to home, and if you’re on a quest to eat a more locally balanced diet there is plenty to choose from.
Want to really up the locavore ante? Start shopping for grains that aren’t just US-produced, but produced close to you. Small-scale grain operations are up against a lot, their industrial counterparts supported by big time subsidies, while the average independent grain farmer is working hard to make ends meet. Which is why they deserve your support.
Due to increases in corn production, barley production is diminishing. What better way to support the US-grown grain than by buying more of it?
If you haven’t discovered the beauty of buckwheat, it’s time you got on board. Buckwheat is actually a seed, which makes it gluten-free, and when it’s in flour form, perfect for gluten-free baking. You can also cook with buckwheat groats, which can come in a raw or toasted format. A lot of the US grown buckwheat comes from New York, Washington and North Dakota.
You might know emmer wheat by its Italian name, farro. It’s one of the oldest forms of wheat, its cultivation dating back 10,000 years. It hit the US market in the late 19th century, predominantly grown in North Dakota and Montana. Now it’s popping up in New York and Pennsylvania, a truly locally grown version available at Greenmarket in New York City.
A lot of the industrial oats grown come from the upper Midwest (even mega brand Quaker is devoted to 100% North American produced oats), but smaller, independent operations can be found in other places like Washington State.
Long a staple in Nordic baking, nowadays rye is having a bit of a comeback in the United States, proving that it’s not just for pastrami sandwiches. New York has its own Rye Bread Project, devoted to reintroducing heritage rye grains to the Northeast market. A lot of industrial rye production takes place in Georgia and Oklahoma.
Did you know that sorghum is actually the third-largest cereal grain in the United States? It does relatively well in harsher climates, and is known for its drought tolerance. But beyond that, it’s also nutritionally powerful, with lots of protein, iron and dietary fiber.
7. Heritage wheat varieties
Wheat is no new grain to the US market, but if you’re looking to eat more consciously, start looking for wheat harvested and milled by smaller operations, and in particular, heritage wheat varieties (like the aforementioned emmer wheat). Community Grains, for example, sells flours made from grains grown and milled in California, and on the east coast there is Pioneer Valley Heritage Grains CSA. Operations like these ensure whole grain flours made from heritage variety grains, not the white processed stuff we’re usually used to at the grocery store, and that makes for a true artisan loaf of bread.