Fooled by Kamut

Happy Herbert's Ancient Grains Kamut Pretzels have a great name. They even taste quite good. But don't be fooled, Kamut is not necessarily an ancient grain. I was greatly disappointed to learn that Kamut is a brand and a registered trademark. This was just not as exciting of a history as I thought it might be when I purchased the bag of pretzels at the natural foods store near my office.

After consulting the Kamut website, I couldn't help but feel that the Kamut or Khorasan industry was trying to convince me that this product is ancient, even though it is officially traced back to 1949. Not sure I feel this qualifies as ancient. Maybe ancient-inspired?

However, I am pleased to know the Kamut Khorasan industry is working to cultivate organic agriculture and support organic farmers. But, personally I would like to know more about how much of this grain is imported, because organic or not, transportation of even ancient-inspired grain ought to be minimized.

I also found some great information from Purdue's Horticulture department that was also uplifting about this grain. Here's a snippet:

"Kamut arrived in the U.S. approximately 40 years ago, when a U.S. airman mailed 36 kernels from Egypt to his father in Montana. The seed was increased and produced commercially for a few years, but was discontinued due to lack of markets and yield averages which were lower than wheat. In 1977, the Quinn family secured a quart jar of remnant seed from which they selected and propagated a specific seed type that was registered as QK 77, and named Kamut, a word thought to mean wheat in ancient Egypt.

"Kamut production in the U.S. is determined through exclusive contracts with Montana Flour and Grains, Big Sandy (R. Quinn, pers. commun, 1995). All contracts require organic certification of the crop and agronomic practices for production are outlined by Montana Flour and Grains. Results of yield comparisons between Kamut and hard red spring wheats are similar to the results observed in the comparisons between "the covered wheats" and other free threshing wheats. Kamut will out yield spring wheats when environmental stresses are experienced during the growing season, and yield equal to or lower in more ideal growing seasons. Kamut plant height reaches 127 cm with good to excellent straw strength."

Additionally, and quite exciting (also from Purdue):

"Kamut products made from whole grain flours have a mild, nutty flavor. Individuals who experienced certain types of allergic reactions to products made from common wheat are able to eat Kamut products."

I should also note that Happy Herbert's products are quite enjoyable. But beware: their website makes a crunching sound every time you visit.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm glad you wrote about Kamut Khorasan wheat and the pretzels, I think they taste great! I am an employee and felt like i needed to clear up a few things. Yes, the word "Kamut" is a trademarked name used to sell Khorasan wheat. Our president registered the trademark years ago to protect the ancient heritage of the grain. When you see the "KAMUT" name it has come from our network of farmers, is always organically grown, never been hybridized or modernized and has certain specifications for protein levels and other vitamins and minerals. For several years we had a Plant Variety Protection which was called QK-77. QK-77 is not, I repeat NOT a chemical. It was how they labled the variety of grain (Khorasan). Bob, our President had the first certified organic farm in Montana and is incredibly committed to organic agriculture, and for fair and stable prices for farmers, so they can actually make a living. I hope this helps clear up some things. Please check out our new website for more info or contact me!


Sarah said...

Hi Tara - Sorry to take so long in responding to your comment (I have now changed my comment notification!). I also made some updates to the blog post. Kamut is a very interesting grain, indeed!

Thank you for your comment.