Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

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Kernza: The Perennial Grain With the Potential to Change Agriculture Forever

Publication: Greenmatters

Author: Andrew Krosofsky

If you haven’t heard about Kernza, don’t feel too bad. This amazing grain was first developed by the scientists at The Land Institute in 2008. Since then, this scientific marvel has inspired many farmers and agricultural scientists to take a closer look into the development of similar perennial grains. What is Kernza, you may ask? Well, it isn’t just a fad food or a scientific anomaly, it’s a food product that has the potential to change agriculture forever.

What is Kernza?

Kernza is a newly-domesticated form of wheatgrass that was designed to be planted from a single seed and regrow on its own, year after year. This would make it unique amongst most other commercial or industrial crops, which are usually annual and need to be replanted every year. According to The Washington Post, annual crops require enormous amounts of water, fertilizer, and energy, not to mention the habitat destruction and soil degradation they promote.

With Kernza, the growing process is completely different. The roots remain in the soil, storing carbon and regrowing the plants to be harvested the next year. This cuts down on soil erosion, fertilizer use, and energy requirements. And all of this amounts to a crop that is completely unique amongst other traditional grains like wheat or barley.

Kernza has a sweet, nutty flavor that makes it perfect for making bread, cereals, and snacks. Though it isn’t gluten free, it has less gluten than wheat, according to the official Kernza FAQ page. It can be used whole grain, ground into flour, malted, or directly added to beer and whiskey.

Where can I buy Kernza?

Because it’s still a relatively new product, Kernza products can only be found at certain retailers and online stores. Amazon sells it as flour, as does Perennial Pantry and Columbia County Bread. So far, the majority of Kernza is available as ground flour, but this is simply because its versatility isn’t entirely known just yet. There’s no doubt that this remarkable grain will appear as bread, beer, cereal, and baked goods before too long.

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