Published: June 9, 2021

Category: Organic News

Cornell University is leading a project to spread consumption of diverse and ancient grains in the Northeast and Midwest, funded by a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The three-year project will develop infrastructure for organic cultivation and marketing of grains including bread wheat, naked barley, hulless oats, rye, emmer, spelt, and einkorn.

“Grains are very nutritious and are a critical part of the human diet,” said principal investigator Mark Sorrells, professor of plant breeding and genetics. “Consumers tend to focus on wheat products and overlook some of the other very diverse and flavorful grains, such as ancient grains.”

Universities of Vermont, Wisconsin, Maine, and Illinois, and Oregon State, and South Dakota State are participating research bodies. The work will support organic growers by offering diverse crop rotation options. The grant, through the USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), has the following objectives:

a) breeding—developing new varieties of grain adapted to regional and climatic conditions, focusing on culinary assets; b) organic management—generating best practices; c) marketing—assessing opportunities to increase consumer demand and local/regional distribution; and d) outreach—connecting stakeholders in the organic supply chain.

The project will involve working with New York state bakeries such as Wide Awake Bakery and Bread Alone Bakery to use alternative flours in baked goods. They also are collaborating with processors to get food products to consumers. For example, the nonprofit GrowNYC has grain stands at various farmers markets around New York City, including one at Union Square that is test marketing food grains as part of the project. The Artisan Grain Collaborative in Wisconsin is another collaborator seeking to promote a more regenerative food system.

Source: Cornell University

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights June 2021