The Ancient Superfood That You've Probably Never Heard Of
From an Unknown Time in the Past to Present Day
For millennia, buckwheat has been a staple crop. Across the centuries, its been a food source that has held a place of honor in many cultures. Buckwheat isn’t actually a wheat and it isn’t even related to wheat—it’s in a completely different plant family. What makes buckwheat special? Many things! It’s an Earth-friendly and ecologically sound cover crop that makes soil fertile by topping up its reserves of crucial organic matter and nutrients, improving the land’s ability to hold water and support life. Unlike chemically-pampered food crops, buckwheat is a hardy plant that thrives under challenging conditions.
It’s known as a vibrant survivor with a unique ability to stock up on certain plant nutrients. These phytonutrients, which include flavonoids and fiber, make buckwheat a nutritious and healthy food for humans. A field of buckwheat in bloom is a beautiful sight to behold. Buckwheat blossoms are not only lovely, they produce a sweet and nutritious nectar that nourishes the hungry pollinators that are essential to the agricultural cycles that sustain life on this planet.
Himalayan Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) is an ancient, non-gluten-containing plant. Unlike common buckwheat, this crop is largely self-pollinating and it does not produce flowers or nectar. Because it is frost-tolerant, it is a species of buckwheat that is widely grown in China, India, and Nepal, often on hilly terrains. In those countries and other parts of Asia, Tartary buckwheat is used in many traditional ways, including as a medicinal herb and—when toasted—as a delicious tea. Compared to ordinary buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), Tartary buckwheat has higher levels of beneficial flavonoids, including rutin, quercetin, hesperidin, diosmin, and luteolin. Tartary buckwheat also contains significant amounts of 2-HOBA (2-hydroxybenzylamine), a compound that is very rare in foods and highly intriguing to modern-day researchers.