Overcoming Unfamiliarity with Barley

By Maddie Patterson
Communications & Marketing Intern
Northern Crops Institute

Barley is a grain that is sometimes shied away from in the kitchen. Often times this is due to lack of familiarity or not knowing how to prep it. And although barley has some challenges to overcome before being even more widely used, there are many added benefits to using it in meals. These benefits range from feeling full longer, to being good for heart health, and offer good reasons as to why we should be eating more barley. But with a lack of familiarity with the grain, how can we overcome these challenges?

One solution to get people more comfortable eating and preparing barley is to include it more regularly in school meals. Barley is a wonderful whole grain that is nutritionally dense and flavorful, making it a perfect substitute or stand alone. In school lunches this grain could be introduced to children to familiarize them with the flavor. This approach allows professionals to handle the preparation, but still introduces children to the grain, and fosters familiarity. 

This approach could also translate to more barley usage at home. Realizing the added health benefits and flavor, parents may begin to incorporate more barley into their diets as well. Initially, adding barley as a substitute for rice or pasta can be an easy way to incorporate it. But with growing comfort, barley can also be used in dishes or as a stand-alone with other prepped food.

Another challenge barley has dealt with previously is preparation. Outside of soups, most people don’t use barley on a regular basis. This leads to trepidation and avoidance when it is called for in recipes. To combat this, short videos showing how to prepare the different types of food barley can be made. You can also access this blog to learn what kind of barley will cook best in your recipe.  

All of these factors play into the widespread use of barley, and how we can promote barleys usage. If you personally would like to incorporate more barley into your diet, check out these resources.

https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-And-Food/Grain-Products/All-About-Barley.aspx

https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-101-orphan-pages-found/health-benefits-barley

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0733521008000283

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