Monday, January 28, 2013

Meatless Monday: QK-77 A.K.A. Kamut®, the Ancient Grain with the Registered Name

I am a sucker for a bargain. In fact, the best way to get me to try something new is to put it on sale and to clearly indicate how much I’ll save by buying it now.

Such was the case with Organic Heritage O’s from Nature’s Path, normally $9.59 for 32 oz. at the Elm City Market [I’d never pay that!], on sale for $5.99. The cereal’s main ingredient is Kamut®!?? The other major ingredients are the more familiar ancient grains — spelt and quinoa — but I didn’t have a clue about Kamut®—to what family it belonged or how its registered name should be pronounced. I bought it anyway.

Kamut® is the registered trademark for khorasan wheat flour, recognized as a protected variety and officially named QK-77 by the USDA in 1990. In his article “Kamut®: Ancient Grain, New Cereal,” agricultural scientist Robert M. Quinn explores the elusive origins of this ancient grain, its arrival in North America, and how years later he and his father, Montana farmer T. Mack Quinn, managed to grow it successfully, to name it, and to register it. It’s a fascinating story and you really should check it out. The acres of Kamut® which flourish today can all trace their origins to thirty-six grain kernels brought to North America after WWII by a US airman!

According to Quinn’s article, “Kamut® is an ancient relative of modern durum wheat, two to three times the size of common wheat with 20–40% more protein, higher in lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and a "sweet" alternative for all products that now use common wheat… Nutritionally superior, it can be substituted for common wheat with great success. Kamut® brand wheat has a rich, buttery flavor, and is easily digested. A hard amber spring type wheat with a huge humped back kernel, this grain is ‘untouched’ by modern plant breeding programs which appear to have sacrificed flavor and nutrition for higher yields dependent upon large amounts of synthetic agricultural inputs…Perhaps the most significant aspect of the introduction and cultivation of Kamut® brand wheat is that it is an important new crop for sustainable agriculture. This grain's ability to produce high quality without artificial fertilizers and pesticides make it an excellent crop for organic farming.

There is an official website with all the information you would ever want to know about Kamut®, including details about its DNA. However, if you go at all deeply into the site, you will get a pop-up warning that all the material on the site is copyrighted, and that you need to get permission before sharing it with anyone. Counterintuitive as that seems, since the site is designed to sing the praises of Kamut®, I will heed the warning and direct you to the site where you can read about Kamut® for yourself. 

I also discovered that Kamut® is pronounced [kah-MOOT] according to this Food Network site.

Now, back to my bag of cereal where this tale began… Each 3/4 (30 gram) serving of Heritage O’s has 16 grams of whole grains, 4 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber. The carbon footprint is rather large; the cereal is a product of Canada (as are many with organic grains). This is mitigated somewhat by the minimalist packaging – a lightweight bag rather than a cardboard box.

The grains can be prepared like pilaf. Bob’s Red Mill is one source for Organic Kamut® Berries should you wish to prepare Kamut® this way. For recipes, check out the Kamut® site

It is interesting to note that while QK-77 is thriving in the fields of Montana and Alberta, one site reports that Kamut® has vanished from its original home over the last 50 years. That airman had no clue just how important those thirty-six kernels would turn out to be.

Happy Monday. Eat well. Have a great week.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

No comments:

Post a Comment