Discover the Slow Food Ark of Taste, a world of agrobiodiversity to save

The first person to sow this type of wheat in Canada was a farmer called David Fife, who had brought a few seeds with him from Scotland. The species is first documented in 1840 in the context of the region of Otonabee, now in Central Ontario.    

Given its resemblance to the Ukrainian variety, halychanka, this variety of wheat may be descended from the Ukrainian species. Another school of thought maintains that it is an accidental hybrid.    

Government agronomists are convinced that the properties of red fife and its capacity to adapt to the extreme weather conditions mean that it is the only forerunner of cultivated varieties of wheat. And it has survived thanks to a few organic farmers scattered around the country. Furthermore, it tastes good and, milled into flour, in the form of flour, cooks very well. As a result, it is very popular with farmers, millers and bakers alike.

The flat, fertile plains of the Canadian prairies have guaranteed a quality harvest over the years, despite the extremely cold climate.    

The red fife (the name may refer to the Kingdom of Fife) is robust and resistant to disease. It is bright red when mature and has a higher yield than any other variety of wheat ever grown in Canada.    

The Red Fife Slow Food Presidium was created to relaunch Red Fife by introducing it to artisan bakeries. It has supported the efforts of farmers who grow the wheat and has succeeded in increasing the amount of seed to such an extent that it can now be marketed.    

The bread promoted by the Presidium is kneaded and shaped by hand and baked in a stone oven. It has a yellow outer crust and smells of wheat and herbs. It has a strong, slightly acidic taste, with hints of spices, aniseed and fennel.

To promote the high quality and excellent taste of artisan bread made from Red Fife flour, the Presidium organized an Artisan Bread Tour which visited six Canadian towns. The Presidium has applied to the Canadian Wheat Board for legal recognition of this wheat variety and has launched a campaign with the aim of spreading the idea of growing and processing red wheat on the Canadian prairies.

What is a Slow Food Presidia?

The Slow Food Presidia are projects sustaining quality production at risk of extinction, protecting unique regions and ecosystems, recovering traditional processing methods, safeguarding native breeds and local plant varieties.

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Photos — Archivio Slow Food

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