If you make the decision to eat a local diet, one of the biggest issues you are likely confront is how to substitute some of your favorite foods with something grown locally. It can be fun to sit around and speculate about how you are going to replace any given item. The whole idea tends to spark my pioneer spirit. However, the reality of giving up a beloved staple, like rice, seemed kind of grim until I discovered farro. Bluebird Grain Farms grow this ancient wholegrain in the Methow Valley near Winthrop. Every step of their growing process is about producing a superior product. Evidently, farro is traditionally known by growers as being a little cranky when asked to perform like wheat. It can be difficult to grow and low-yielding. Lucky for us, since the chances of it becoming genetically modified are close to none.
Many people discover farro while traveling in Italy where it has become a local specialty with a wide range of uses from soups to salads. It works well with a variety of seasonal ingredients and can be a staple year-round. It has a distinctive, nutty flavor similar to barley or spelt. It’s low in gluten, so it is useful for those with wheat issues. It may fall more into the “slow food” category in terms of cooking time, but it is an ancient grain, after all, and is pretty low maintenance while it cooks. So, all I ask is that you give it a chance. Okay, it hasn’t completely replaced rice in my kitchen, but it is running a strong second. In terms of flavor and nutrition it can be deeply satisfying. We will be giving you some of our favorite recipes, so go ahead and get some to have on hand.
The primary source for farro is Bluebird Grain Farms , also a great source for flour and other grains. They come to the University Farmers Market and the Ballard Sunday Market on alternate weekends during the summer months. They also sell all their products online. My local Whole Foods Market in Roosevelt Square sells Bluebird farro in bulk. I also saw some farro at the Pike Place Market grown by a company called Lentz Spelt.