Rye originated in the region between Turkey and Afghanistan. It looks like an extra tall wheat plant, but it is from the genus Secale cereale. It grew wild among the wheat and barley prior to being cultivated as a crop. It was first cultivated around 400 BC.

Dark rye bread was considered a staple through the Middle Ages. Many different types of rye grain have come from north-central and eastern Europe such as Finland, Denmark, Baltic countries, Russia, The Netherlands and Germany.

Around 500 AD, the Saxons and Danes settled in Britain and introduced rye, which was well suited to colder northern climates.

Rye has qualities that wheat does not: it can be grown in poorer soils, with less sun and at higher altitudes than wheat, and it can tolerate damp and drought. It is made to order, in other words, for northern and eastern Europe, where it has been widely grown since the Middle Ages, and for parts of Canada.

Rye flour makes bread that lasts longer and, for those who love it, tastes infinitely better. True devotees will eat nothing else; the Russian food writer Yuri Chernichenko says that ”white bread is cotton wool.”

Russia, Poland and the Scandinavian countries all love rye bread, and emigrants from those countries, along with Germans, brought rye bread with them to the United States.

For generations, ham on rye has been the proletarian sandwich of choice in the Midwest, corned beef or pastrami on rye in New York. To learn more about the power of rye and it’s unique health benefits, visit The Whole Grains Council Website.