Innovations with an ancient grain been organically and sustainable grown under a trademark called "KAMUT"

Place: Montana, united-states, North America
Sustainable management of natural resources Sustainable management of natural resources
Total Budget: € 66.000.000,00 | Period: From January 1986 To


To promote organic agriculture and support organic farmers, to increase diversity of crops and diets, and to protect the heritage of a high quality, delicious ancient grain for the benefit of this and future generations. To help promote renewable farm fuel systems. 


Kamut International - United States

Lead applicant

It owns, protects and promotes the KAMUT trademark and sponsors and co-ordinates medical and agronomic research

Prairie Heritage Seeds Organics Inc. - Canada

Initiative partner

Contracting organic farmers for growing for the KAMUT project, cleaning the grain and preparing the shipping.

Montana Flour & Grains - United States

Initiative partner

Contract with organic farmers for growing ancient grain, cleaning grain & shipping it to customers

University of Florence - Italy

Initiative partner

The University of Bologna coordinates medical, nutritional, biochemical and agronomic research in cooperation with the University of Florence

The Oil Barn - United States

Initiative partner

The Oil Barn contracts, buys and crushes organic high-oleic safflower seeds to produce oil for restaurants, food service and retail stores and organic sops and cosmetics. Collects waste safflower oil, cleans it ans sells it to local organic farms.

University of Bologna - Italy

Initiative partner

Preservation of an ancient grain with organic agriculture and sustainable health for all. The project is to encourage food diversity while preserving an ancient grain variety to benefit farmers and consumers. Fundamental is that the ancient variety is grown organically without any breeding or genetic modifications to the original variety. The ancient grain is commercialized using a trademark. The grain is not owned by anybody, but the trademark stands as a guarantee for the quality of farming and processing. This helps to preserve the grain, to support diversity of seeds and to raise awareness of ancient grains and also enables more accountability along the chain of custody. There is close work with medical researchers to confirm health benefits of this variety and other ancient grains. Lastly, a project with safflower used in the rotation further promotes sustainability with use of oil from the safflower seeds first for cooking and then reused as fuel for the farm tractors.

Since 2011 it is possible with the help of other companies and researchers to grow a seed crop for oil for use in farm machines which can also be used first for cooking. The Oil Barn is a small, farmer owned operation that grew from the original project. Safflower is planted at the organic farm as a rotational crop. Seeds are crushed to extract their oil, which can be used for food or for soap and cosmetics. The Oil Barn is certified organic and does not use any chemicals or materials to refine, bleach or deodorize the oil. The contribution to sustainable farming is the focus. Modifications to farm equipment have been made and an additional processing system allows cleaning of the oil first used for cooking before having it as fuel. The waste oil is collected from the customers and used as fuel for the tractor that controls weeds and plants the crops. This dramatically reduces waste, influences the environmental impact and increases the sustainability and independence of the farm.

Safflower Oil Project. Farm Machines. The farm machine with adopted engines for the safflower oil fuel. Farm tractor running with safflower oil. The engine on the caterpillar tractor has been modified so it can run with the used and cleaned safflower oil
Safflower Oil Project. Products from safflower oil Products directly from safflower oil for the food and cosmetic industry. 250 ml bottles of safflower oil and organic soap made from safflower oil
Safflower Oil Project. Safflower Waste Oil Safflower waste oil collected from restaurants and food services outlets. Safflower waste oil will be de watered, centrifuged and filtered to prepare it to be used as fuel for the farm

Triticum turgidum ssp. turanicum originated in Mesopotamia. Since the beginning of this project the ancient grain has been grown in the “Upper Great Prairies of North America”. The climate in this hot and dry prairie region corresponds to that of its native origin and is therefore well suited for a successful crop. This region is known to be the best area for growing durum and large-scale farming shapes the landscape. This project is a showcase for others illustrating the possibility of organic farming on a large-scale to be successful and to sustain the soil without buying expensive chemicals. The safflower project shows in addition a way to be independent in regard to fuel. Looking at food security it is a response to modern wheat systems dependent on high resource inputs and the use of heavily manipulated modern wheat which causes many health problems.

Short introductions with testimonials about the KAMUT® Khorasan project In this video the founder, the CEO, a retailer and a baker explain KAMUT® khorasan and the benefits to be involved in such a project.

Due to the modern breeding focus on high yields and bigger bread volumes, the nutrient value of wheat is declining. But food should be our medicine and medicine should be our food. The past 25 years customers have told countless stories that the problems experienced after eating modern wheat simply did not occur when they ate KAMUT® khorasan ancient wheat products. Current research published in scientific journals demonstrate that modern wheat causes inflammation and that KAMUT® khorasan wheat is anti-inflammatory. The latest research compared the effects of modern wheat verses khorasan wheat on people suffering from chronic health problems. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) was chosen for this study because in industrialized nations up to 20% of the population is suffering from this disorder at some level. The latest study concluded that IBS symptoms were shown to significantly decrease with the consumption of KAMUT® khorasan wheat in every single person in the study.

Farmers are helped, to bring back independence and a positive, healthy environment through implementation of not only organic and sustainable farming but a fair trade approach. Farmers are paid a good price to compensate for lower yield which gives them a stable income over years. Waste oil from safflower is collected and cleaned and re-used as fuel for the farm machines. This additional energy source gives a chance to be more independent in regard to cost and resources of fuel. For consumers, an increasing number of people cannot eat modern wheat as a staple in their diets, a result of changes made to modern wheat. No country can afford to have a significant % of their population sick.  Several food scandals have also caused mistrust by consumers. If not everybody along the value chain takes responsibility the transparency for consumers get lost. With a trademark, accountability for quality and integrity can be given from beginning to the end.

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Amount of Seeded Fields Amount of Seeded Fields
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Responsibility along the value chain Responsibility along the value chain

Over 150 farmers are involved in this project. Cleaning plants coordinate with the farmers and insure the quality of the final product they ship to the customer. They check the trademark specifications with the help of laboratories and professional cleaning equipment. One cleaning plant with 5 employees does this for North America, over 12 employees do it in Canada. Two company structures (Kamut International and Kamut Enterprises of Europe) are responsible for promotion and protection of the trademark. One is based in America with 5 employees; one is based in Europe (Belgium) with 8 employees. These companies do customer support and quality controls (audits) arranged within regions and sponsor medical research. The project partner The Oil Barn has three employees, responsible for producing and selling oil as well as cleaning waste oil. Research partners University of Bologna and University of Florence have six principle researchers and many contributors responsible for this part.

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Chart of the staff Chart of the staff

The yield of an ancient grain is lower. Kamut International launched several crop growing projects to produce this wheat closer to the markets without sacrificing its quality criteria. The crop trials were spread throughout Europe,Turkey, South America, Australia and Africa and elsewhere but the results were not satisfactory for its quality and other criteria. The already low yield was not profitable compared to native wheat varieties in Europe. Many of the native varieties were far better adapted to local conditions. Under the promises not to do breeding or other manipulation of the variety, to grow only organic and not to use other supplements, other acceptable locations were not found. Major trial efforts were stopped and the focus was brought back to the attention of the growing area in North America. Limited trials still are continuing, but the focus is on the promised quality and transparency to consumers and efforts to increase sustainability in the proven growing areas.

KAMUT® khorasan grain Hight quality KAMUT® khorasan grain after the first cleaning process.

The complete project is based on an organic agriculture system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystem, and people. Results indicate from other research that straight vegetable oil produced from safflower achieves a reduction in net life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of 78% compared with conventional petroleum diesel. Additionally, a safflower-derived fuel oil system yields more useful energy than is required during production, processing, and transport. These results suggest that the safflower-based fuel system under consideration could potentially achieve the identified sustainability goals of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions, displacing conventional on farm petroleum diesel consumption, with a large net energy ratio. One of the specifications for this trademark is, that the ancient khorasan wheat variety without any breeding or genetic modification is required to be grown always organically. This is to keep this part of seed biodiversity available for everybody. 

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Product Life Cycle of Safflower. From Crop to Food and Fuel Product Life Cycle of Safflower. From Crop to Food and Fuel

The project still exists after 28 years. There are more products on the market, more employees, more acres seeded than at the beginning, which was 1986. The project will not stop but will expand in certain aspects. The project with The Oil Barn after the first successful results can become a solution for the other farmer associations embedded in this project and this makes the KAMUT® khorasan program even more sustainable. The demands of consumers and processors are changing over time and it is important to meet these demands. New laboratory equipment makes it easier for more frequent and intensive quality controls. The research regarding other crop rotation systems to increase or maintain the soil fertility will continue and the health research will continue as recent findings show much more can be done in this area. Future research will focus on human disease problems like heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

In 1990 the Quinn family registered “KAMUT” as a trademark to protect and preserve the exceptional qualities of the heirloom khorasan variety. At this time the search for the name was based on the stories the founders knew. The first story was, that E. Dedman, an American pilot stationed in Portugal, received the grain from someone visiting Egypt and that the grain came from a tomb. An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary provided the name which means "wheat". After additional research in Egypt, it is now known that the tomb story can’t be true. At the beginning KAMUT® Khorasan was among very few ancient grains available to consumers but luckily the value of ancient varieties grew and more regional and ancient varieties can now be bought in Europe. But the first idea “to preserve with the help of a trademark the extraordinary qualities of an ancient grain” has been successful. Today it is useful for consumers to find transparency in quality and to trust a trademark.

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Brochure from 2004 First international brochure from 2004 for the European Market describing the project
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Current Info Brochure from 2011 The last update of the information brochure with focus on research and health benefits.