“Ancient Seeds” Project
Farming in the right way, that is organic farming, is fundamental to any kind of discussion about our business. In our field we are frequently confronted with numerous questions.
The first question is: why today is wheat so different from that which our grandparents cultivated? Modern wheat strains grow to half height, the ear of the wheat is much longer, and the yield per acre is almost quadruple what it used to be. To the uninformed, this would seem to represent an enormous advantage and improvement over older seed stocks. For us it was the impetus to research the "why" and so with the help of talented collaborators we ventured to explain all of this. Not only had the exterior appearance, the morphology, of the plant changed over time but what is inside, viz., the gluten, the type of gluten, the protein level and other characteristics. We were concerned about whether there was a link between the changed wheat plant and the exponential growth of intolerance to gluten and the rise of celiac disease. Isn't it possible that such a nexus exists?
We have been working together with the Istituto per la Cerealicoltura of Foggia and several other private research centers for 16 years on a study of two grain populations of farro triticum dicoccum (both originally from the valleys that surround Gubbio (PG)), on farro monococcum, and on triticum turanicum, an ancient cereal that is commercially sold under various names. We use the botanical names when talking about our products and we leave the commercial branding and the royalties (that flow there from) to others.
This research has been fruitful resulting in several interesting discoveries which affect different areas of nutrition science and we are now able to give a genetic identity to the varieties selected, varieties that we produce on the crop land of the Consortium Agribosco and with which we produce the Agribosco food products.
The word farro is often misunderstood.
Farro may be generally divided into three varieties:
- Farro Triticum Dicoccum (Emmer)
- Farro Triticum Monococcum (Emmer)
- Farro Triticum Spelta (Spelt)
Each one of these varieties has its own characteristics that make it suitable for a specific use. In fact, the content of protein, carbohydrates, potassium and vitamins, as well as the quantity and texture of gluten varies significantly from a rich triticum diccoccum to a poor triticum spelta.
Triticum dicoccum is normally used for pasta and in preparing soups while triticum spelta is used mainly in northern European countries for bread-making.
All three varieties are ancient grains and, in fact, are the "progenitors" of many modern grains. The modern varieties were created by changing the molecular structure of the grains which unfortunately increased the kinds of food intolerances and gluten allergies from which people today suffer.
Farro it's history
Farro is first found in the historical record dating back 7,000 years, in ancient Palestine, and formed the basis of the civilization's diet at that time.
In subsequent periods, there are references to farro in ancient Syrian texts as well as in Egyptian scrolls dating back to era of the Pharaohs. In fact, Egypt had the greatest production of farro which was widely exported to much of the Mediterranean basin.
Farro was mentioned in the Homeric poems and referred to by other ancient philosophers. We also find farro used in the ancient culture of Rome, in particular in certain pagan rituals. Thanks to its high protein content, it became of staple of the Roman legions.
Its high adaptability in almost every kind of terrain and temperature accounted for the wide cultivation of the grain up until the middle of the last century. Farro was gradually supplanted by grains of higher productivity until it almost disappeared.
Today the cultivation of farro has grown substantially, especially in central Italy as it fits perfectly with organic farming. In fact, due to its growth pattern of "bunching," farro makes it difficult for weeds to compete with it, thereby ensuring excellent yields even when cultivated in accordance with the principles of organic farming.
FAQ.s about Farro
We would like to answer some frequent questions we receive as well as clarify certain important points
- What is Farro?
- Farro is an ancient grain that has many qualities including a high protein content and ease of digestibility.
- Does farro contain gluten?
- Yes, however, the structure of farro's gluten is profoundly different from that of modern varieties of wheat. Farro has never been genetically modified and this accounts for the difference. Its gluten structure is characterized by a degree of fragility which accounts for its higher digestibility.
If you are intolerant or allergic to wheat and you've heard that you can consume farro, you should consult a medical specialist in order to test whether your allergy or intolerance includes the gluten contained in farro.
- What is “pearled farro?”
- It is farro without the bran. “Pearling” is a mechanical process that removes most of the bran surrounding the seed. As a result, farro has a pale color and can be readily cooked in 20 minutes without the need to soak it.
- How to cook pearled farro?
- Pearled farro (or farro perlato) is used mainly in soups. However, it can also be the basis of many recipes, e.g., the classic supplì alla Romana, arancini (Sicilian) and our Umbrian delicacy of farro with osso buco.
- Why is farro flour darker than normal wheat flour?
- Our flour is stone ground in accordance with an ancient process. This process gives the product a unique consistency that does not completely remove the bran which, in turn, gives the farro this darker color.
A great deal of confusion surrounds the subject of the cereal turanicum. For many years in North America a famous brand-named product has dominated the market; there are many Italian brands that have attempted to compete with this North American brand only to succeed in creating additional confusion. There are certain rules in the industry that permit producers to refer to triticum turanicum as khoransan grain..
Agribosco has for years been following the practice of research and reproduction of the "ancient seeds." From the beginning, the exceptional qualitative characteristics of triticum turanicum were one of the principal reasons of this project. Its exceptional adaptability to the hilly Italian terrain, especially that of Umbria and Le Marche, make it the ideal seed stock for cultivation and production of food products. It is a grain of outstanding quality that does not take a back seat to any of its counterparts in North America or any other part of the world.
Exceptional protein content, easily digestible gluten, magnificent flavor and aroma, all of these characteristics go into making turanicum truly one of our outstanding products.
It must be noted that turanicum, when it is often referred to as khorasan, contains gluten. As is the case with farro, the gluten of turanicum has a different structure from other modern durum grains; however, this does not make it safe for people suffering from gluten intolerance. You must contact your physician for information relative to this.