Some lists, like “Top 10 varieties of Kale”, are hard to complete. Others, like “Top 10 Great Things about Canadian Barley”, face another challenge. When the subject is so good in so many ways, how do you narrow the list to just 10?
With a range of classes, types and varieties to choose from, barley posts some impressive numbers. But with Canadian barley, the most important numbers are 1 and 10; as in, it’s the number one grain on the market for (at least) 10 reasons:
Like any grain, it all begins on the farm, where Canadian producers share a commitment to excellence and a passion for growing premium quality barley.
“Western Canadian barley is bred to grow in our unique prairie climate,” said Michael Brophy, President and CEO of the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute (BMBRI). “As a result, it provides excellent quality for malting and brewing and for our animal feed industries.”
Of all the food grains, barley has the highest fibre content, lowest glycemic index and is the only cereal grain with all forms of vitamin E. Oh yes, and it also contains B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and antioxidants!
Beyond basic nutrition, the regular consumption of barley can assist with weight issues and aid in the prevention and/or management of cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and certain cancers.
A brussels sprout shake might be nutritious, but outside of California, it would be a tough sell. Barley’s subtle, nutty flavour, however, blends well in a range of foods including scrumptious baked goods, comforting casseroles and soothing soups, as well as cereals, risottos, salads and snack bars.
Barley can be processed into a variety of forms. Choose from hulless, pearled, pot and puffed barley, as well as barley flakes and concentrated barley fractions.
For some, this one should be at the top of the list, and who can blame them? Canada has ideal growing conditions for malt barley production and the elite craftsmanship in malting and brewing necessary to create the perfect beer.
“Canadian barley is very versatile and easy to process in both the malt house and the brewery,” said Peter Watts, Managing Director of the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC). “It offers ample foam, rich flavours and more color than many other malts.”
The biggest advantage of “buying local” is the greater trust and connection between customers and producers that fosters a sense of community. Canada’s rigorous crop registration and food safety standards further ensure label integrity.
Other advantages of locally grown food ingredients include the environmental benefits associated with locally sustainable production systems, such as reduced transportation costs.
A thriving local food system can increase economic growth within local communities by bringing more income to farmers, input providers, processors, distributors, retailers, consumers and food preparers. This results in more jobs, more tax revenue and one more reason to love Canadian barley!
For Canadians, national pride seems to be a guilty indulgence to be savoured but never talked about.
Like it or not though, our commitment to quality has established Canada as a trustworthy trading partner, with a strong reputation for understanding and responding to the needs of our domestic and international customers.
“Production is now at 7-8 million tonnes, which lets us satisfy domestic needs while continuing as a significant exporter of malt and feed barley,” said Brophy.
So go ahead, be proud that Canadian barley is the best in the world. Just don’t tell anyone.