Ancient grains once grazed the fields of Sicily, the Mediterranean bread basket. However, they were gradually driven out by cash crops over the last century.
Thankfully – as part of Mussolini’s efforts to render Italy self-sufficient in the wheat department – the Consortium of Ancient Grains in Caltagirone, Peppe’s hometown, has kept a specimen of each ancient grain variety. Farmers can request for a small quantity of a certain variety and start planting and multiplying the grains.
An ecosystem of courageous farmers, millers and artisan bakers and pasta makers have taken it upon themselves to revive these ancient grains despite inherent difficulties such as low yield and impossibility of using certain machinery.
Through their hard work, today these grains occupy 1% of all the island’s wheat-cultivating land. It is a small number, but your choices serve to encourage these ancient grain guardians to continue spreading their values.
Promoting ancient grains now also ensures that future generations can continue enjoying these grains’ tangible health benefits and unique flavours and textures.