Of the main cereal crops (wheat, barley, oats and rye), barley is probably the least commonly used in day-to-day food. It is often used to make beer and whiskey.
As a food, barley is most often used in soups and stews. In Asia, is boiled to make barley water, a popular drink which is ideal for hot weather.
Barley can grow in cold conditions, which is why it is a staple crop in Tibet (they also grow wheat there, so if you are allergic to wheat, Tibet is not actually a perfect destination for you).
Barley is a flavorful, tasty, chewy grain. It can be cooked like rice and served on the side with meat and vegetable dishes, much like rice.
Barley contains gluten and must be avoided if you are celiac or allergic to barley.
If you are allergic to wheat, you may still be able to eat barley (I do).
If you have just discovered that you are allergic to wheat, it is best to eliminate barley from your diet for several months, then re-introduce it to see if it causes you trouble or not.
Barley is a good source of fiber, selenium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.
Barley is a grass. Besides being related to your lawn and bamboo, grass is also related to the following food crops because they too are grasses:
Barley is really in a lot of places one might not suspect. While it is very commonly found in beer or whiskey, and that is kind of known, it is also very commonly found in everyday foods like bread, cereal, cookies, etc.
The main reason for this is that most flour that you buy in the grocery store, lists malted barley flour as one of the main ingredients. Because of FDA requirements on labeling, companies are not necessarily required to specifically list that the flour they used to make their bread contains malted barley flour. Nor do most labels tell you that malt is made from barley (always), and/or corn.
I find barley in almost as many things as I find wheat in. Although I can’t seem to find anything on it right now, when I first started researching barley, I was finding that dextrose and maltodextrin are sometimes derived from barley (most often from corn, maize, rice, etc) as well. Those are two sweeteners that are in everything.