Red Fife: Old is the New Black

Like mutton chop beards and vinyl records I’ve been finding that everything that is old is hip again! And I can’t help but agree, minus the mutton chops!

In our attempt to get back to nature I think we are trying to dig up some old dirt and realize that what worked once can work again. Which leads me to why we’ve been hearing a lot about Red Fife lately.

Originally planted by David Fife in Peterborough around 1842, this heritage wheat has been absent from our fields for more than nine decades! The demand began to decline as the Marquis wheat was replacing Red Fife. People were choosing modernity over a much finer taste. Sounds a little familiar, now doesn’t it?!

The resurgence of Red Fife began in British Columbia in 1988 where a half-pound of seeds was rediscovered and planted. Two decades later about 500 tons was harvested in 2007. The demand started to grow as farmers were realizing that Red Fife has great milling qualities and produces soft, tasty breads and other baked goods. Demand continues to grow today as we strive to find alternatives to modern hybrid wheat varieties. So it’s important to note that although Red Fife is used as the foundation for many hybrid wheat varieties, the grain itself has not undergone the hybridization of many modern wheat we use today.

“The nose has notes of anise and fennel, and in the mouth the bread is unexpectedly rich with a slightly herby and spicy flavour”

In my attempt to find out more about this variety of wheat, this is what I found Slow Food Canada had to say “…a hay yellow crumb, with an intense scent of herbs and vegetables coloured with a light acidity. The nose has notes of anise and fennel, and in the mouth the bread is unexpectedly rich with a slightly herby and spicy flavour.” Now if that doesn’t make you want to go bake a big loaf of Red Fife, I don’t know what will!?!…But incase it doesn’t, how about the fact that it boasts 13% protein and contains all of the bran, wheat germ and endosperm of the kernels where most of the fibre, B vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals are found. And to tie that package up nicely, let me also mention that it possesses lower gluten content than most modern varieties of wheat. Hot damn! Move over Kamut and Spelt, there’s a new kid in town; and he’s delightfully Canadian! And while I’m on a roll, I’ll also mention that all Red Fife grown in Canada is organic and milled in its whole grain form.

Since we’re deep into Ontario growing season with tons of farmer’s markets at our doorstep, why not support your local farmer by purchasing that wonderful loaf of Red Fife bread. Or better yet, give a natural fragrance to your home by baking your very own!


Jeanette Rauch, Registered Holistic Nutritionist RHN

Resources:

http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/presidia/details/989/red-fife-wheat#.U76Y5ChcVgs

http://limeleavesandtastebuds.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/reasons-to-love-red-fife/