Although the British landscape was once home to thousands of different grain varieties, it is now primarily dominated by wide-scale monocultures of grains developed for a specific, market-driven system.
Such crops may be useful for producing industrial-scale yields, but unfortunately they are not compatible with sustainable food systems. With little resilience to external factors such as climate, soil and local weeds, they rely heavily on the use of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilisers.
Thankfully, there is a strong network of people across the country who are pioneering the return of heritage grains – from bakers, to farmers, millers and scientists. These grains not only taste great, but they are genetically suited to the specific soil and climate of their region. They can therefore thrive in harmony with the other elements of their ecosystem, without the use of chemical inputs.
Heritage grains thus allow for better diversity, both in our diets, and our environment. Here is a short film by Jason Taylor, illustrating one of the many projects celebrating the beauty of heritage grains – in this case, wheat.