In search of great nutrition, hooray for EINKORN!
If you think back to your middle school history classes, you might remember the term “Neolithic Revolution.” Around 10,000 years ago our ancestors transitioned from their hunter-gatherer roots and began farming grains. Since then humans have continuously selected and cross-bred grains for higher yields, easier cultivation and resistance to the elements. But did you know that you can still eat the original, nutrient-rich wheat the first farmers planted, and you can buy it locally at Green Owl Provisions?
So What is Einkorn Wheat?
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum) is the domesticated form of a wild grain found native to Turkey and parts of Eastern Europe. Stone Age people gathered seeds and grains as part of their diet. Wild einkorn has been known for tens of thousands of years and is the first wheat to have been cultivated and processed by the earliest farmers. Einkorn spread as for as Ireland and Morocco as people learned to farm.
As agriculture grew, people looked to not only cultivate grains but to maximize their potential. Einkorn had low yields and required a lot of work to thresh and mill. Einkorn and its ancient cousin emmer were crossed with other wild grasses to create larger, easier to grow grains. Our modern varieties of wheat are all descended from these early hybrids, while einkorn remained only in small pockets in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It was lost to most of the world until very recently, but now it’s being recognized as an ancient superfood.
When people think of grains, especially wheat, they tend to think only of carbs. And while it’s true that grains do supply most of our carbohydrates, much of the world relies on grains for most of their daily calories. Grains contain many of the vitamins, minerals and proteins our bodies need.
As with may changes we’ve made to our diets over thousands of years, the switch to more modern grains didn’t mean a more nutritious way of eating. Ancient einkorn is higher in protein than any widely-grown modern variety. What’s more it’s rich in beta carotene and Vitamin A, which other wheats lack. Lutein, a vitamin that supports eye health, is found at much higher levels in einkorn. It’s even higher in the antioxidant riboflavin.
The Gluten in Einkorn
The most stark difference between einkorn and modern wheats is in the gluten. When primitive wheats were cross-bred they became more complex. While modern wheats have 42 chromosomes, einkorn has only 14. It’s simpler structure makes it easier to digest and, importantly, makes its gluten less complex as well.
While extensive studies have not yet been done, there is significant evidence that the gluten in einkorn is more easily tolerated by those who have sensitivities. Research has identified a specific peptide in gluten that triggers an autoimmune response in some people, but that peptide is absent in einkorn. An Italian study showed no significant response to bread baked with einkorn flour in celiac patients. While there is more research to be done before einkorn can be considered fully safe for those with wheat sensitivities, the evidence seems to be suggesting that it may be a viable part of their diets.
A Better Flour
Our einkorn flour comes from wheat that is grown and processed with no pesticides or chemicals. And because of the thick hull that made it harder for early farmers to thresh, einkorn is naturally protected from outside contamination. Grains are a major part of almost everyone’s diet, and with einkorn flour we are able to offer those grains in one of their healthiest, most ancient forms.
Try some Einkorn flour in your pancakes, waffles or other staple recipes for a rich, nutritious alternative that's easy to digest and full of flavor!