Another commercial first for our perennial crops: a grain processing company has assembled a production line specifically for food-grade cleaning and de-hulling of Kernza® grain. Healthy Food Ingredients opened the line early last year at its plant in Valley City, North Dakota, and has handled almost 50,000 pounds of Kernza® from farms in the Upper Midwest. As acres planted to wheatgrass grows, the poundage could rise to millions, said Chris Wiegert, HFI’s chief soil health and sustainability officer. The company does not yet mention wheatgrass on its website, to avoid calls for a product still in relatively short supply. Wheatgrass is very different from other grains that the company handles, Wiegert said, and requires special equipment and its own processing line.
HFI, with the registered trademark “Cultivating goodness”, sells for its health benefits a purple maize called Suntava, plus flax, amaranth, buckwheat, chia, emmer, spelt, millet, quinoa, and teff, along with the more conventional grains, a handful of vegetable oils, and more than a dozen kinds of beans. In addition to the facility at Valley City, which is west of company headquarters in Fargo, it has three more plants: across the river from Fargo in Moorhead, Minnesota; in Hastings, Nebraska; and in Watertown, South Dakota.