Rye bread, including pumpernickel, is a widely eaten food in Northern and Eastern Europe. Rye is also used to make the familiar crisp bread. Rye flour has enough gliadin, but not enough glutenin, therefor it has a lower gluten content than wheat flour, and contains a higher proportion of soluble fiber.
Other uses of rye include rye whiskey and an alternative medicine known as rye extract. Rye straw is used to make corn dollies.

Rye grows well in much poorer soils than those necessary for most cereal grains. Thus, it is an especially valuable crop in regions where the soil has sand or peat. Rye plants withstand cold better than other small grains do. Rye will survive without snow cover that would otherwise result in winter-kill for winter wheat. Most farmers grow winter ryes, which are planted and begin to grow in autumn. In spring, the plants develop and produce their crop. Fall planted rye shows fast growth. By late June plants reach their maximum height, of about four feet (102 cm) while spring planted wheat has only recently germinated. Vigorous growth supresses even the most noxious weed competitors, and rye can be grown without application of herbicides.