LENTZ RESURGENT GRAINS include the three Farro grains Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt.
Farro is a Mediterranean term for the original cereal grains that predate wheat. Ancestral grains are very different than wheat, aromatically, nutritionally, functionally, physically and agronomically. German-speaking countries also group the three, as Urgetreide, in Spain they’re Escanda.
Einkorn, Triticum monoccocum, is the oldest and, as diploid with 14 chromosomes, the genetically most basic. In Italy it’s called Farro Piccolo. It is a relatively soft grain.
Emmer, Triticum diccocum, is a tetraploid with 28 chromosomes. A very hard grain, it’s the precursor of modern durum. It’s also known as Farro Medio.
Spelt, Triticum spelta, is a hexaploid with 42 chromosomes. Its traits are similar to those of soft red bread wheat. Among the Farro grains it ranks as Farro Grande.
Modern wheats are genetically manipulated by cross and re-cross and back-cross, and they’re also forced to genetically mutate by exposure to extreme levels of broad-spectrum pesticides (Clearfield wheats); in contrast, Farro grains come directly from nature. The term is landrace, meaning that from the first farmers onward the naturally occurring Farro varieties (accessions) were selected in the field for propagation. As a matter of domestication, the first landrace selections were those who did not shatter as much as the wild grains do.
Without intensive breeding and forced mutation, the Farro grains do not contain some of the wheat proteins that are suspected of interfering with human health.
Landrace Farro varieties take on characteristics unique to the particular environment where they grow. This is due to a shift in subpopulations that occurs within a few generations. Raised on the Columbia Plateau in the Pacific Northwest, Lentz Farro varieties are exclusively produced by Lentz Spelt Farms.
Farro varieties are hulled grains, wheat is free-threshing: Kernels of cereal grains grow within a hull, or husk; in the case of wheat the kernels are released from their husk by threshing (you can rub a ripe wheat head between your hands to gain the kernels), whereas with Farro the threshing only separates the spikelets, and the additional process of dehulling is then undertaken postharvest. In grain storage the Farro hull offers some protection against pests and pathogens.
Farro is not wheat. By discriminating field selection and, if necessary, by hand roguing we assure that our Farro products are wheat-free. The USDA classifies the Farro grains as different than wheat, i.e., as “Other Grains.”
Some do call Farro grains “wheat.” The FDA classifies Farro so.
Who’s right? It depends on how you define “wheat.” Taken in the very broadest context, Farro grains are members of the Triticum family, hence they’re wheats. Conversely, as hulled grains they’re so distinctly different from the free-threshing wheats, that they’re definitely not wheats.
The FDA concern has to do with allergen warnings. It’s a market fact that Farro grains are often purchased by folks with wheat allergies. However, medically, a wheat allergy is not the same as celiac disease, i.e., gluten intolerance. The gluten of Farro grains differs from wheat gluten, nevertheless we do NOT recommend that celiacs consume Farro.
The strengths of Farro grains are their outstanding flavors that range from robust to nutty-delicate: Take your tastebuds back to the dawn of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent! Certainly Farro grains are versatile, cooked in risotto style for all kinds of Mediterranean dishes, or as rolled flakes in cookies or in cooked breakfast cereal. Farro flours excel in pizza crust, pancakes, pasta, dumplings, flatbreads, tortillas, scones, muffins, tortes.
Farro accessions are tall grasses, much taller than modern wheats that have been dwarfed by breeding. Because tall plants have a greater root mass than dwarfed plants, Farro grains have better uptake of soil nutrients and express that in nutritionally superior kernels – Farro grains test higher than wheat in protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They’re truly the healthy, tasty wheat alternative. They’re the wholesome grains of your forefathers.
> Sources: USDA-ARS; Montana State University; Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD <