Washington State University has invested $10 million to help increase the nutritive quality of whole grain crops and bring them to market. The funding, announced Wednesday, is part of the US Department of Agriculture’s program to promote a resilient food and agriculture system.
The project involved more than 20 WSU researchers and three investigators from Johns Hopkins University, and strengthens WSU’s existing “Soil to Society” program. Researchers in the program will grow and test six crops: barley, wheat, peas, lentils, quinoa and buckwheat.
“In addition to research to better understand the interactions between soil, plants and human health, we want to develop a delicious product from each of these crops,” he said. kevin murphy, Program Director and WSU Associate Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Science, in a statement.
“One of the keys to success is releasing new varieties and getting farmers to grow them. Another key is getting more nutritious and affordable foods mainstream and into households,” Murphy said.
Project researchers plan to assess the crop’s nutritive value and its relationship with growing conditions in test areas near Mount Vernon and Pullman, Wash., with the aim of breeding more nutritious, easy-to-grow crops.
Health scientists will assess the effects of improved crops on the human body, including the gut microbiome, the collection of microbes in the gut. Epidemiologists and economists will take a comprehensive approach, modeling how an increase in consumption of whole grain-based food will affect society.
Other components of the project include developing and taste testing recipes and other outreach measures.
The project’s long-term goal is to “make more nutritious, affordable and accessible whole grain-based foods”. a statement In the WSU grant proposal.
News of the funding comes the same week WSU raised $125 million to help stem the pandemic by surveying and analyzing animal viruses that have the potential to leapfrog to humans.
Other partners in the New Soil to Society project include the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council, the Washington Grain Commission, Ardent Mills, Rebelius Foods, WSDA Regional Markets, Patagonia Provisions and King Arthur Baking Company.