Once widely cultivated in the ancient world thank its ability to give good yields on poor soils, its strong tolerance to various climatic conditions, and its resistance to fungal diseases such as stem rust that are prevalent in wet areas; nowadays emmer wheat is primarily a relict crop in marginal mountainous and hilly areas: Morocco, Spain, the Czech and Slovak republics, Albania, Turkey, Switzerland and Italy.
Rich in fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamins, emmer contributes to a complete protein diet when combined with legumes, making emmer grains and pastas ideal for vegetarians (or for anyone simply looking for a plant-based high-protein food source). It also has a gluten structure that is different than modern wheat so people with gluten allergies can usually eat it without any problems.
In the past few years there has been a renewed interest in farro among gastronomes, and its popularity is growing in Italy and beyond, especially in gourmet cooking and among trendy health-conscious cooks.
In Garfagnana, where this nutritious grain has always continued to be cultivated, farro is commonly used in different ways: served hot, warm or cold; served like risotto; used as a side dish or salad condiment (as an alternative to potatoes or rice); in soups and cakes; milled in traditional mills with millstones to make flour for bread, biscuits and pasta.
Since recently a local farm called “La Petronola” has been producing a beer (in three different version: blonde, red and dark) made 100% from farro. Furthermore in 2006 this beer has been awarded with the “The best homemade beer of the year”, category “Beer made from different cereals”, by “Unione Birrai”.