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HISTORY OF ALPISTE

A long journey for this ancient grain.

Alpiste (Canary seed) originated in the Canary Islands, a Spanish protectorate off the coast of West Africa. Both Canary seed and canary birds were named for it. In Spanish‐speaking countries, where Canary seed is known as alpiste, it is used in a drink called leche de alpiste, and other health foods

and supplements.

 

Canary seed (phalaris canariensis) is classified as cereal and was included in Spain’s Royal Decree 2484/1967 (Codex Alimentario) for human consumption.

 

The seeds were introduced to Canada in the 1970s and have been since adapted for suitable growing on the Canadian prairies. Since then, seed varieties have been developed via traditional breeding methods by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre.

 

In early 2016, the Canary Seed Development Commission of Saskatchewan was successful in getting novel food approval for de-hulled glabrous Canary seed varieties in both Canada and the United States.  It is the first food cereal grain approved in Canada since Health Canada started its Novel Food classification in 1995.