Diversify Your Plate

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A tractor sits in a field of mustard, this will be tilled under to nurture the soil and control pests. Just one step of many to get the dirt ready for wheat planting.

 

Having just read Chef Dan Barber’s excellent article in the New York Times about the Farm to Table movement, my eyes have been opened to the way farmers actually work. They don’t just grow one delicious grain, harvest it, sell it to a baker and a lovely loaf lands on the shelf for you to buy. Of course they do do that but before they can grow that one grain that the fickle market has deemed delicious they must prepare the soil. Barber talks about the farmer planting mustard, tilling that under, then planting cowpeas to bring nitrogen to the soil, then a plant of rye or oats, until finally the field is ready for the superstar grain, in this case emmer wheat (or farro). 

All the previous crops that the farmer planted were sold for animal feed, for pennies, all so the dirt could get juiced up with the goodness to grow some divine emmer wheat that would demand a high price. Barber samples the bounty of the previous harvests that went for animal feed and finds them delicious, the only problem being that in North America we don’t clamour for millet and cowpeas – but we should.

Do you cook with millet? Share your recipes and tips with us in the comments below!

One growing industry that helps farmers by creating a demand for their crops is the booming craft beer industry – they’ll pay top dollar for barley malt. Now, if we as consumers could begin a big demand for millet or rye that would be ideal for farmers. The millet would help the soil to help the emmer wheat grow big, the farmer would make some money and we would have a more varied diet enjoying millet’s gluten-free and high in B vitamin goodness. Everybody wins.

 

Stir-Fried Millet, recipe below, courtesy of cookieandkate.com

Stir-Fried Millet, recipe below, courtesy of cookieandkate.com

 

The best part? Drinking craft beer is not only fun and delicious it’s almost an act of activism for our country’s farms. Crack a cold one today!

Some great millet recipes:

Stir Fried Millet, Millet Meatballs, Toasted Grain Pilaf, Millet Vegetable Burger and Cranberry Millet Muffins

If you’ve got a favourite recipe for millet that isn’t linked to here we’d love to check it out, please share with us in the comments.

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