Cooking with Kernza

Several years ago I came across a news story (probably through NPR) discussing the development of a perennial grain. “An ecologist’s dream” they called it. I was intrigued and had to research more. The grain has been “in the works” since the 70’s, and the team developing it has Mother Earth in the forefront of their minds. “The Institute’s goal is to create an agriculture system that mimics natural systems in order to produce ample food and reduce or eliminate the negative impacts of industrial agriculture,” https://landinstitute.org/about-us/.

Their mission statement begins with, “When people, land, and community are as one, all three members prosper; when they relate not as members but as competing interests, all three are exploited.” This is part of an agricultural mission statement? This aligned so closely with my values as a mental health practitioner! When we work together, we form our village and we all become better together; when we compete and look out for our own self interest, the village is not sustainable.

Dustin and I continued to follow the researchers leading these efforts and have been amazed by their progress and commitment to sustainable farming practices. We believe in knowing where your food comes from and that buying local while thinking global makes a huge impact on the environment and how the village should operate!

We are hopeful to grow Kernza ourselves someday (hopeful to revisit this blog entry several years from now announcing we did it!) but until then, we are supporting their efforts by buying their product and promoting it to those who are interested in learning more! You can buy Kernza flour here: https://perennial-pantry.com/. I have used it in a variety of different recipes that were featured on their website. You can check out my Berry Tart, Beer Bread, Rustic Bread and Graham Cracker recipes here: https://perennial-pantry.com/blogs/community-recipes?page=1. My entire family asks (in a good way) what is in the breads, pie crusts and muffins that is “unique?” The nutty flavor that adds a rich taste and dense texture you don’t get from any other type of flour. It has added an extra “uniqueness” to my baking that I have enjoyed sharing with our village, and not to mention, starts up a great conversation about sustainable farming practices!

We are hopeful to educate others on the small things you can do to help support farmers who are doing their part to help the village prosper. So often I think we are focused on just looking at the price tag at the grocery store. I encourage you to shop your local farmers markets, check your labels when you buy food and ask yourself, “where did this come from?” “Is this good for me and what organization am I supporting by buying this product?” Start small, perhaps with produce, then work your way around the perimeter of the grocery store with different products and food items. The more you educate yourself, the more your body (and the Earth) will thank you. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, easy or cheap.” Here’s to happy and healthy eating, Cheers!

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