Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

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Kernza more than just a new food trend

Publication: Winnipeg Free Press

Author: Laura Rance

You won’t be buying Kernza bread in a Manitoba bakery or grocery store any time soon, but a small group of proponents see it as a sign of things to come.

The flour was brought in for test baking from the U.S., where the crop is currently in small-scale commercial production and being used to make bread, crackers, designer beers and even a whiskey.

“We think it makes a marvellous bread,” said Tabitha Langel, one of the bakery’s owners. “When it comes out of the oven, the smell — you feel like you are lying face-down on the prairie in summer. You can taste the grassiness, it is quite wonderful.”

But it is much more than a new trendy food.

As a perennial cereal, Kernza has potential to boost the sustainability of annual crop farming. Most of the cereals consumed in the world today are produced from annual crops, a result of decisions made by farmers thousands of years ago to select crops for their seed rather than their roots.

The researchers behind crops, such as Kernza, are revisiting that choice in recognition of the fact that annual cropping systems are hard on the environment, largely because they typically involve tillage to prepare the field, seed the crop, help control weeds and remove the vegetation that remains after harvest.

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