First they fit America’s ongoing obsession for the latest magic bullet when it comes to eating healthier.
They also fit into the natural food trend movement that started with organic and then moved into local foods.
So discovering a source of grains that are earthy, nutty and rich in flavor while also being packed with high nutrition seems like a match made in heaven.
Ancient grains have also benefitted from artisanal bakers, people following a gluten free diet and small scale farmers searching them out.
Legend has it that the early Chinese thought of millet as one of five sacred crops and that the Chinese planted it even before they started domestically cultivating rice.
The Incas called Quinoa the “mother of grains” and this grain was so sacred that each year it was the Inca emperor who broke the soil and planted the first seeds with a golden spade.This is because each ancient or whole grain has something different to offer (from the high soluble fiber in barley, iron in amaranth, niacin in barley and calcium in teff), and there really isn’t any one single best healthy grain.The rise in ancient grains is really part of the ongoing food revolution against processed food that is fueled by our yearning for healthier foods that our earlier ancestors ate.Amaranth was considered a sacred crop by the Aztecs who used this grain to make ritual food and drink.One of the first grains cultivated by humans is the ancient grain millet.High-end restaurants and chefs have been leading the way in their acceptance of ancient grains, with their own obsessions with all things local and sustainable.These chefs have been reasonably successful in finding local sources for meat, fish, fruit and vegetables but other than some heirloom potatoes finding an authentic, and more important a flavorful, starchy carb has proven to be a bit more problematic.This result has been modern grains achieving a very long shelf life (good for corporate profits) as pests and insects are naturally repelled by these longer lasting toxins.This increase in toxin levels are what many researchers believe is the primary reason why more and more people have become intolerant to wheat.Einkorn, emmer, farro and freekeh are considered ancient grains in the wheat family.Some also consider black barley, blue corn and black and red rice to be ancient grains.