Grey pea (Pisum sativum ssp. arvense)

The grey pea has historically been a staple for northerners, but has been phased out and completely lost ground in Sweden from the 19th century till today. Grey pea was used in everything from soups to bread and it has even been said that each parish in Sweden had its own grey pea variety before it was phased out as the yellow and green peas were refined and gave better yields.

However, thanks to The Nordic Genetic Resource Centre, several grey pea varieties of Swedish origin have been preserved. The company Nordisk Råvara has cultivated many varieties, one being the much appreciated “Rättviks gråärt”, which today is sold to Suede’s best restaurants.

Farmers in Latvia, unlike in Sweden, have never stopped growing grey peas, but have instead continued to develop it. They have gone even further and have had the finest variety, Retrija,protected through the EU’s Protected Geographical Indication (Andersson, 2020).

Conservation varieties are commercially grown in Sweden (e.g. Rättviksärt, Stäme) as well as other types of grey pea (Stor gråärt) and older yellow pea varieties (Vreta gulärt) and autumn sown pea. As the category grey peas generally overlaps with the category of forage peas it is also possible to obtain some grey pea varieties from some smaller seed companies and they are occasionally grown. Yield is lower in grey peas than in peas for feed and some varieties of yellow and green pea used for food.

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