Get to Know a Gluten-Free Grain: Buckwheat
Even older than fellow gluten-free grain Sorghum, Buckwheat was first cultivated in 6000 BC, in central Asia and Tibet. It was one of the earliest grains introduced to America by the Europeans and production increased through the next several centuries, peaking in the mid-1860s. Popularity decreased for the next hundred years, until it saw a resurgence in the 1970s due to breakfast cereal consumption. Pennsylvania is one of the largest producers of Buckwheat in the US.
Buckwheat is not actually a grain; it is a pseudocereal. It is not a grass and, despite the name, has no relation to wheat. Buckwheat is actually much more closely related to sorrels and rhubarb. The plant itself looks much like a wild flower.
Buckwheat is a very nutritious grain. In fact, analysis by the USDA on the amino acid content of Buckwheat found it to be the most nutritious of all the grains. Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, due in part to the fact that it is not related to wheat. Most of buckwheat production goes to human consumption.
Buckwheat is popular in Asia, particularly in the form of noodles. In the United States, buckwheat is commonly purchased as flour, created by grinding down the buckwheat groats, which can be used in dishes such as pancakes. Buckwheat can be used in place of barley to create gluten free beer.
More info on buckwheat:
Largest Producers in the world: Russia, China, and Ukraine
US Production: 68,000 tonnes (2007)
Details on how to grow: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/buckwheat.html