Is Bob’s Red Mill’s Farro Actually Spelt?

Bob's Red Mill's "Farro"

Spelt or farro?

Bob’s Red Mill has introduced a new product they are marketing as “farro,” identified on their website as Triticum spelta or . . . spelt. What’s going on here?

Three grains, emmer (Triticum dicoccum), spelt (Triticum spelta) and einkorn (riticum monococcum) are, according to Wikipedia, “sometimes (but not always) distinguished as farro medio, farro grande, and farro piccolo, respectively.” To add to the confusion spelt and einkorn, are also known as faricella, or “little farro” in Italian.

Confused? According to a 1997 article in the New York Times, “Farro, Italy’s Rustic Staple: The Little Grain That Could,” “true” farro is emmer (Triticum dicoccum) and considered superior to spelt.

The distinction between farro (Triticum dicoccum) and spelt (Triticum spelta) is important. Triticum dicoccum, has different genetics than Triticum spelta. Specifically Triticum dicoccum has four chromosomes, Triticum spelta has six. There are unproven theories that more chromosomes may equal more allergenic compounds. This is why there’s an interest in primitive wheats like Triticum dicoccum and einkorn (which has only two chromosomes). There are also important culinary distinctions between true farro and spelt. They taste and are prepared differently.

I’m not saying that spelt is bad. And Bob’s Red Mill is not making any health claims for their “farro.” None of these grains are gluten free. I’ve written Bob’s Red Mill for clarification about their “farro” and will include their response when I get one.

To learn more about why genetic distinctions between wheat varieties is important, watch this Extension Service webinar, “The “Ancient” Grains Einkorn, Emmer, and Spelt: What We Know and What We Need to Find Out.”

Update 3/9/2014: I spoke to a sales representative from Bob’s Red Mill who told me that their farro is spelt that has been scarified. Sorry Bob, but farro is not spelt.

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7 Comments

  1. Glad to see that you are shedding some light on this subject. I have noticed this type of mislabeling before and have always been curious what it’s all about. I’m looking forward to hearing what Bob’s has to say! :)

  2. I have tried the Bobs Redmill
    “Farro” recently when I was offered a free sample packet at a local Vegetarian festival in Richmond, VA.
    I took it home, soaked it overnight as directed and boiled it. It tastes
    So great! Chewy, Nutty and yummy.
    You can eat it plain or with sauces etc.
    Then I also tried Trader Joes
    Grocery store brand of “quick
    10 minute Farro” its vegan and tastes equally as good as I recalled the Bob’s Red Mill brand did.

    Then I got curious as to why this supposedly ancient grain thats a powerful healthy superfood thats being marketed to veggies and vegans is not something that I ve heard if before?
    Its seems that it is true that the grain is very old but people on wikipedia and other websites are in disagreement as to whats true Farro and what is not.

    I’d like to continue eating it because it tasted awesome’ seems healthy ‘
    Low fat, low gluten, and easy to pair with many main dishes whats not to
    Love?

    BUT I definitely do not wish to be some guinea pig for geneticists who have cracked up some new B–Sh–
    Hybrid or GMO grains!

    So by all means when you find any nee details about The Bob’s Redmill version and its origin and or anything educational about the health value of Farro and how to get true Non hybrid non gmo versions please share the info.
    I appreciate you research and time and efforts on writing this article.

    Sincerely

    Dawn
    Richmond, VA
    08-19-2013

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  4. Bob’s Red Mill Blog/Articles says this:

    What is it? Wednesday: Farro
    by Cassidy Stockton June 11th, 2014 in Featured Articles, What is it? Wednesday

    What is farro? Farro is a general Italian term for wheat. This includes the ancient wheat varieties of Spelt, Einkorn, and Emmer. In the food world, if you order farro, you could be getting any variation on those three grains- from a whole grain kernel to something that has been pearled. At Bob’s Red Mill, our farro is made from spelt that has been lightly scored.

  5. Thank you for researching Bob’s Red Mill “Farro”! But now I feel the sting of deception. Last week I bought 1-lb bags of Bob’s Spelt for $3.12 each — also, 1-lb bags of Bob’s Farro for $4.67 each. (Unlabeled spelt costs even less when available in the bulk bins.) So, Bob thinks the added value of scoring is worth $1.55 per pound to the end user. Really? But wait! If scoring is the defining virtue of Bob’s Farro … um, Bob’s Special Spelt, I mean — let it be disclosed on the package. (No disclosure to be seen on my Bob’s Farro bags.) Personally, I don’t need scoring, as I intended to grind up the Farro for bread flour. Scoring may not be helpful if you like to sprout grains before grinding and baking, as I often do. Gee, these are strange marketing practices for a company like Bob’s Red Mill, whose customers are all about the purity and full disclosures.

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