Summer 2017

Sustainable snacks

Image courtesy of The Land Institute

The University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative has received a $500,000 gift from General Mills to fund additional research into an intermediate wheatgrass trade-named Kernza, whose long roots may help preserve soil health and reduce nitrogen deposited into ground and surface water.

Kernza is a wild relative of annual wheatgrass. Its sweet, nutty taste lends itself to use in cereal and snacks. Because it’s a perennial, farmers don’t have to replant it every year, so soil disruption is minimized. 

The University has worked with General Mills and the non-profit Land Institute to research the viability of Kernza as an earth-friendly sustainable grain since 2014. This funding will allow the U and the Land Institute to study its potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production, determine best practices for sustainable production, and increase yields through breeding.

“Support from General Mills is an example of a university-industry partnership that can help translate research into commercial application that, in turn, helps develop markets to spur further advancement in crops for both food use and ecosystem improvement,” says Brian Buhr, dean of the U’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences.