Lately, consumers have been putting a lot of thought into where their food comes from, especially when it comes to crops. The Land Institute has been hard at work to find a way that improves the sustainability of crops, and through many years of research and trials Kernza® was created.

The Land Institute is a non-profit "science-based research organization working to develop an alternative to current destructive agricultural practices," and is based out in Salina, Kansas. 

What is Kernza®?

According to The Land Institute, the definition of Kernza® is that it "is a domesticated perennial grain originating from a forage grass called intermediate wheatgrass."

Kernza® hadn't popped up on my radar until recently, when a friend of mine studying agriculture brought it to my attention. However, the domesticated perennial grain is supposed to be much more sustainable for the environment, which is definitely promising.

A trademark was created for Kernza® in order "to help identify intermediate wheatgrass grain that is certified as a perennial using the most advanced types of T. intermedium seed."

The process

In 2003, The Land Institute began a "breeding program for intermediate wheatgrass," and was "guided by Dr. Lee DeHaan." Through the breeding process, wheatgrass had been tested and sorted through, gathering the "best plants based on their yield, seed size, disease resistance, and other traits have been performed."

The program began with the desire to switch from perennial wheatgrass to Kernza®, in order to provide consumers with foods that won't be damaging the environment. According to Civil Eats, Kernza® "can be grown year-round with roots that live on in the ground through winter." 

Currently, the crops that are being planted are annual based, which means they have to be replanted every year. The process of replanting crops requires "seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides for each planting," which are factors in destroying nature.

By replacing the current process with Kernza®, a lot of methods are able to subside, which then creates a much more sustainable method, for both the consumers, as well as the environment. 

The purpose of Kernza®

The goal of The Land Institute is to create varieties of Kernza®, that can be produced on a wide scale, but is also friendly to both the farmers, as well as the environment. 

With the potential of rapidly growing Kernza® in the United States, it's possible that the grain can be seen in everyday foods found in grocery stores. Especially with the help of General Mills, Inc.'s donation of $500,000 in order to help assist in the research of Kernza.

Basically, by buying Kernza®, consumers can ensure that they're eating products "grown on a perennial field that is building soil health, helping retain clean water, sequestering carbon, and enhancing wildlife habitat," allowing consumers to eat in good conscience, and drink or bake up a storm in the kitchen.