Ancient heritage grains are creating new buzz as unaltered nutritional powerhouses

The next UCCS Grain School will be Jan. 17-19.

How’s your grain knowledge?

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs began holding Grain School, a three-day seminar, in 2016, and I learned about it then from Nana Meyers, associate professor in health sciences.

It arose from a campus food initiative called Sustainability, Wellness and Learning (SWELL), which works to promote wellness through hands-on learning and skill building in sustainability practices to regenerate human health, cultivate a mindful society and protect the Earth. SWELL events include the Grain School and the Grain School Public Forum (a free event for the general public).

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I was reintroduced to the Grain School when Meyer spoke at the September meeting of the American Culinary Federation’s Pikes Peak chapter. Before her talk, Meyer had a challenge for those in attendance. She had arranged a display of various grains on a table. There were also small jars of unmarked grains on tables with a list of grains on sheets of paper. She asked us to match the grains with their names; not many of us were able to do this.

“All of these grains are ancient,” she said. “They are considered to have been little changed by selective breeding over recent millennia, as opposed to more widespread cereals such as modern varieties of corn, rice and wheat.”

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Many of these grains are grown at the farm that UCCS has on its campus. She advocates for growing more of these healthier grains locally, for several reasons. Because of how far away our grains come from, and because of their weight, it costs a lot to ship them.

“It’s better to grow it locally for food security in the future,” Meyer said.

She makes a convincing argument for the nutritional benefits of ancient and heritage grains.

“They often contain more protein and less or no gluten, thus people tolerate them better,” she said. “They are rich in nutrients, especially antioxidants, and they are high in fiber.”

The next UCCS Grain School will be Jan. 17-19. Experts in the science and practical application of heritage and ancient grains— artisans, scientists and indigenous peoples — will teach farming, baking, cooking, fermenting, malting and milling. A public forum will be held the evening of Jan. 18 where grain trials will be discussed. Attendees will learn which of the hundreds of ancient and heritage grains would thrive in the region.

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Grain School is both a for-credit and no-credit course. It’s intended for home bakers, chefs, brewers, scientists, educators, students and farmers. To register and get more information about prices, visit grainschool.

Contact the writer: 636-0271.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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