Ancient Grains - A Rising Trend

11 October 2016
video

Marketing or Science

There is some confusion over what constitutes an ancient grain. Although the Whole Grains Council defines ancient grains loosely as grains that are largely unchanged over the last several hundred years, no clear definition exists. The term seems to be a marketing construct with little basis in history or science.

Many of the commodities which are categorised as ancient grains are, in fact, no older than grains such as wheat or oats.

If we look at what has changed and what has not changed, the picture becomes somewhat clearer. Despite having roots going back into antiquity, modern common varieties of wheat, rice and corn are not ancient grains. These modern grains are products of thousands of years of selective breeding for rapid growth and easier milling.

In contrast, the pseudo-grain, amaranth is a good example of what is considered an ancient grain. It was a staple of the Aztec civilisation prior to colonisation. Following the Spanish conquest, cultivation of the crop was outlawed. Having largely maintained its genetic base, amaranth was recovered from wild varieties in the 20th century; it is now cultivated commercially and considered an ancient grain.

Classifications

Commodities commonly classified as ancient grains largely fall into one or more of the following three different categories:

  1. Grains that have not been significantly changed through breeding or other means since they were first cultivated;
  2. Heirloom varieties of commonly cultivated grains; and
  3. Grains and pseudo-grains that have not been a part of the Western diets until relatively recently.

 To download the full insight, click here

Ancient Grains - A Rising Trend

11 October 2016

Marketing or Science

There is some confusion over what constitutes an ancient grain. Although the Whole Grains Council defines ancient grains loosely as grains that are largely unchanged over the last several hundred years, no clear definition exists. The term seems to be a marketing construct with little basis in history or science.

Many of the commodities which are categorised as ancient grains are, in fact, no older than grains such as wheat or oats.

If we look at what has changed and what has not changed, the picture becomes somewhat clearer. Despite having roots going back into antiquity, modern common varieties of wheat, rice and corn are not ancient grains. These modern grains are products of thousands of years of selective breeding for rapid growth and easier milling.

In contrast, the pseudo-grain, amaranth is a good example of what is considered an ancient grain. It was a staple of the Aztec civilisation prior to colonisation. Following the Spanish conquest, cultivation of the crop was outlawed. Having largely maintained its genetic base, amaranth was recovered from wild varieties in the 20th century; it is now cultivated commercially and considered an ancient grain.

Classifications

Commodities commonly classified as ancient grains largely fall into one or more of the following three different categories:

  1. Grains that have not been significantly changed through breeding or other means since they were first cultivated;
  2. Heirloom varieties of commonly cultivated grains; and
  3. Grains and pseudo-grains that have not been a part of the Western diets until relatively recently.

 To download the full insight, click here

Najeeb Alhumaid's featured publications

See All Posts

Food & beverage

Najeeb Alhumaid speaks on the challenges & opportunities in Saudi’s agrifood sector

Najeeb Alhumaid, Partner, Farrelly & Mitchell KSA speaks about the consultancy’s work in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

Video

Food safety & security

Benefit from Farrelly & Mitchell’s sector focus in food security and food safety

Policymakers and businesses benefit from Farrelly & Mitchell’s dedicated sector focus and food security consulting acumen.

Video

Food safety & security

Challenges for FLW infrastructure & logistics in GCC

Najeeb AlHumaid, Senior Manager, Farrelly & Mitchell, looks at the issues contributing to food loss and waste in GCC

Presentation
See All Posts

Join our latest webinar on climate change and food safety.

Get in touch with us or find an office closest to you.
Register now