From the insatiable thirst of wheat to the heavy carbon footprint of imported quinoa, many of the whole grains we devour while trying to be health-conscious today, come at a high environmental cost, drinking up gallons of water ressources and often requiring importation.
In an era where climate change is expected to reduce rainfall across much of the world’s most fertile land, we need to turn to grains that can be home-grown or as locally as possible, are more tolerant to dryness, therefore require very little water and are environmentally-friendly. Thankfully, there are a few grains that you can turn to. Of course, I also included some links to recipes just to give you some extra ideas 🙂
So what type of grains are actually sustainable?
It’s nutritious, easy to grow, and takes very little water. It’s high in fiber and protein, while also being a great source of manganese, magnesium and phosphorous, so it’s great to treat cholesterol and heart disease as well as cramps and weak bones.
This healthy grain has apparently been grown in Europe since prehistory, even before the culture of wheat and eaten by the ancient romans, however, today it is more commonly eaten in Africa and Asia. In Europe, it is now more commonly sold as birdseed, and only a small market exists for human consumption. Quite a pity, right? Hopefully, the growing interest in gluten-free foods and sustainability could spark some extra interest. Malt can be produced out of millet, which could be a great source to come up with yummy gluten-free beers and whiskeys.
Why do we import a grain like quinoa, that’s quite bitter, doesn’t taste great, and costs four times more than millet? It’s because the consumer hasn’t been educated. We’re working on that!
Jean Hediger, owner of a millet farm.
RECIPE: Creamy Butternut Chickpea Millet
Sorghum (sorgo or sorge in french)
Nutritious and high in compounds that prevent the spread of cancer cells, sorghum is grown in Europe, mostly for animal feed, but it could be an excellent opportunity for a new gluten-free grain on the market, as it’s generally cheaper than most other grains.
Native to Ethiopia, Teff is starting to spread in Europe. It has great nutritional value: it contains more calcium than any other cultivated grain.
RECIPE: Teff Peanut Butter Cookies
Amaranth plants are amazing: they can yield seeds in 40 days with no water. The least thirsty plant of all!
Credits: All photos are linked to their respective sources. Lettering & Design: Linda Dieschbourg.