Farro—What Is It, and Why Should You Care?

Listen, it's not quinoa's fault that the semantics of the word make it sound pretentious, much like foie gras or caviar. On the surface, it's just a grain, but like the latter two, it's now regarded as more of a trend than a millennia-old crop. With the steadfast rise in commodifying wellness and glamorizing nutrition, simple nature-made foods like kale and avocado are publicized—a PR agency was even hired to make kale "cool." It worked.

The latest earth-grown food to garner buzz? Farro. It's an ancient Middle Eastern form of hulled wheat that keeps its kernel during harvest, giving it a barley-like shape instead of a flat grain. The maintained shell provides more nutrition since the whole grain harbors more essential vitamins, nutrients, fats, oils, and minerals than a refined grain (think whole wheat compared to refined white flour). When you stack these nutrients against each other, you get a host of health benefits: fiber for optimal digestion; magnesium to ax inflammation and period cramps, iron for energy and heart health, and protein to build and repair tissues, to name a few.

In other words, when shopping for farro, aim to purchase it in its purest, unhusked form instead of "semi-pearled" or "pearled" farro in which some of or all of the bran has been removed for speedier cooking. Yes, whole farro might have more of a nuttier, al dente taste, and it might often need to be soaked overnight to soften it for cooking, but the benefits speak for themselves.