This New Cereal and Beer share an Ingredient–and it’s Fighting Climate Change
When Patagonia decided to go into the beer business, part of the motivation was fighting climate change: The key ingredient in its beer, a grain called Kernza, is particularly good at storing carbon as it grows. Today, Cascadian Farm announced a limited-edition cereal made with the same ingredient. Both companies are hoping to help move the food into the mainstream.
“The reality is, we are literally pioneering how you grow an ingredient,” says Maria Carolina Comings, marketing director at Cascadian Farm.
Growing in the field, Kernza–a type of wheatgrass–looks a little like ordinary wheat. But unlike wheat, it’s a perennial crop, meaning that it doesn’t need to be replanted each year. Farmers can avoid plowing the soil, a step that releases carbon; soil actually stores more carbon than the atmosphere and plants combined. As it grows, Kernza’s roots reach more than 10 feet underground, helping add more carbon to the ground by creating a home for microbes.
“Roots are the main way that soil carbon is built,” says Fred Iutzi, president of The Land Institute, a Kansas-based nonprofit that has been breeding the grain for 16 years. “You can think of Kernza and other perennial crops as really like carbon pumps that are increasing the amount of the carbon that they take out of the air that actually sticks in the soil.” The plant acts similarly to native prairie grasses that have been largely replaced by agriculture.