Regenerative farms, as opposed to conventional ones, grow plant-friendly crops. To be certified as regenerative, the practices of the farm must help rebuild topsoil health, improve the waterways, promote biodiversity, and capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This version of farming is not new: The Rodale Institute began using the term regenerative agriculture in the early 1980s. Now, this style of farming is beginning to gain traction as techniques like these can help mitigate and potentially reverse climate change.
Kernza (The Land Institute) is the trademark name for a regeneratively grown wheatgrass (the young grass of the wheat plant, that can improve your gut health as well as the health of the planet:
This new type of wheat is a perennial. Most agricultural crops are annuals (meaning they must be planted every year). Perennials, however, stay in the ground for many years, which gives them some signiﬁcant environmental advantages. Perennial grains develop deeper root systems than annuals. The deep roots help prevent soil erosion and trap harmful greenhouse gases underground, keeping them out of the atmosphere.
The long, hardy root system helps to anchor the soil, preventing run-off and nutrient loss. These deep roots, which grow 10 feet into the soil, can also access water reserves stored much lower down in the water table, providing an increased level of drought-resistance for the crop.
Hearty grain crops, such as Kernza, are generally recognized as having the lowest water requirement compared to fruits, vegetables, and especially water-hogging beef. As water becomes more of a limited resource, it behooves farmers to increase production of drought-resistant crops.
Kernza has a sweet, nutty flavor. Cooks typically blend it with an annual wheat flour to make bread. Kernza need not be blended, as it can make up 100 percent of the flour in quick breads. It can also be used as a pilaf like rice, used in a grain bowl, or just tossed into salads. It is also malted and used as a base for beer and whiskey.
Kernza is high in protein, antioxidants, and packs in a huge amount of both cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber and gut-health-promoting insoluble fiber. Kernza has 18 grams (g) of fiber per 3.5 ounces, versus 11 g in conventional wheat, and a whooping 19 g of protein compared to wheat’s 9 g. Kernza does not require any special storage or handling, and may even have a much longer shelf life than other grains.
Kernza is a sustainable and environmentally friendly food with health-boosting benefits, and it has the potential to revolutionize farming. You can purchase Kernza, and other regeneratively grown grain products, online or at stores such as Whole Foods Market.