What Is Buckwheat?
Despite its name, buckwheat is actually not related to wheat, nor is it a grass. It is actually related to rhubarb, and the part that people eat is actually best classified as a fruit seed that comes from the buckwheat plant, also commonly called the beech wheat plant. It derived its name because it is often used in the same way as wheat, despite the fact that it is gluten-free which is why it has risen to such importance in recent years, due to the increased awareness and infrastructure to support gluten allergies and people with Celiac disease.
Buckwheat actually belongs to the Polygonaceae family of plants, and was originally thought to have developed in Southeast Asia, and then gradually spread throughout the Asian continent over the past 8,000 years. There is another species variation of the plant that is found in the Himalayas.
It is still widely cultivated in Russia, China, and the Ukraine, but the United States, who used to grow large amounts of buckwheat, stopped with the advent of nitrogen fertilizer, which is better for growing wheat. That being said, buckwheat has far more beneficial qualities than wheat, which is why so many people choose this delicious alternative to more traditional grains!