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Wheat - Don't alter God's design ; this story is getting personal

Friday, February 03, 2012



Harvested Wheat field


I feel a little like a traitor writing this.
We have lived surrounded by wheat fields for 20 years now. My daughter has grown up playing with our dogs in the wheat fields around us and riding her horse through the same fields after harvest. We have sat and watched many beautiful sunsets from the hills around us with the ripe wheat in the foreground and on many occasions we have snacked on some grain in the process.
Some of my friends are wheat farmers and I have broken bread (wheat) with them many times. They are caring people who have old-fashioned values and they see themselves as responsible stewards of their land which is in this area usually several thousands acres. They rotate crops by planting barley, legumes like peas, lentils and garbanzos and occasionally canola and alfalfa to return nitrogen back to the soil. The majority have not planted a lot of GMO crops yet. They might plant GMO wheat around the perimeter of their crops so that if they have to spray the ditches around the fields for noxious weeds as required by law they will not kill any wheat in the process. Some will not plant some of their fields for a number of years (CRP) and will be paid by the federal government for this. CRP land is often planted with local grasses and gives native wild life a chance to survive.
One or two have tried to plant some organic wheat on a field that had been used for alfalfa the previous couple of years and had therefore not been sprayed. We bought their hay to use for bedding for our horse, our ducks and our rabbits.
Most of the wheat grown around here is not grown for bread but for pasta and is referred to as hard wheat (triticum durum). The wheat that William Davis is most concerned about in his book "Wheatbelly" is the kind that is used for bread which is an offspring of Triticum Aestivum that has only been bred in the last 50 years through modern hybridization techniques.
The most basic and original form of wheat according to Davis is Einkorn which was harvested wild about 10.000 years ago, The evolutionary successor of Einkorn was Emmer (Triticum Turgidum) which was the wheat of ancient Egypt. Emmer wheat naturally crossed with another grass and resulted in Triticum Aestivum, which is the closest to modern bread wheat. Triticum durum is genetically closer to Emmer.
Since the 1940's there were efforts to increase the yields of wheat to feed more people worldwide and by the 1980's these efforts had brought wheat with huge seed heads that would have made the wheat plant buckle and impossible to harvest if wheat had not also been bred for very short stalks. This reduced the growing season required, the amount of fertilizer needed and the amount of "useless" stalk. This semi-darf wheat makes up 99% of all wheat grown worldwide.
Along with the desired changes in wheat, however came some unintended changes. It was found that wheat gluten proteins can change with hybridization, resulting in new gluten
proteins that are not present in either parent strain of wheat. Some of these express more genes for gluten proteins associated with celiac disease.
Another characteristic that distinguishes wheat from other sources of starches is an ingredient called Amylopectin A which makes wheat much faster to digest than other starches and leads to a surge in blood sugar that can be worse than table sugar (sucrose).
There are more changes that have been made to modern wheat and some of the results of these changes may not be known yet. The second part of the book "Wheat Belly" makes connections between wheat and many kinds of illness.
I'm coming back to my title of this blog: Don't alter God's design. You can insert the word nature for God if you like, but one thing seems to be clear, when humans start tinkering with food they may not always be able to foresee the consequences of their actions.
The thought of not altering God's design is not my idea. It comes from the book by Rex Russell "What the Bible says about Healthy Living" and is second of 3 principles in this book.
The other two principles are "Eat the foods God created for you" and "Don't let any food or drink become your God". It's hard to follow the 3rd rule without following the second one.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    My family have gone gluten/wheat free for a few reasons, including reduced effects of autism. I have noticed big changes when I eat something even whole wheat! I'm all for running Montasanto out of business! Local co-op foods are much better, but sometimes in MT we can't get local fresh produce during the winter. Little by little we all can change the way food is grown and yes, it's by the fork and $ first.

    Thanks for sharing.
    2207 days ago
    Just a point of interest on the wheat topic, our local extension service (Washington State Univ. but here on the west side) has a very comprehensive wheat research program. One of the things they're working on is bringing back perennial wheat. When I was there for a baking conference, I saw the gorgeous 6 foot tall stalks! They're also working on hard wheat varieties that will grow here on the west side and they're generally playing around with the older varieties as well. I picked up some Club Wheat, which is a short grain soft wheat. I look forward to grinding it up and making biscuits. They've also been instrumental in encouraging the east side farmers in the beautiful Palouse to practice no-till farming and various other practices that reduce the need for pesticides and keep them away from GMO strains.

    I may be practicing the Primal lifestyle, but I'm still a baker (both hobby and professional) so I'm not able to leave wheat behind completely. ;)
    2208 days ago
    Your photos are beautiful; pictures we in the east never see in person; but we have the ocean! LOL.
    I have recently switched over to the Blood type diet in order to eliminate troublesome foods from my menu, but even then, I am honing in on more organic foods. I have symptoms, such as hair loss, that are totally abnormal for me, having always had a very healthy thick head of hair, and skin hemorages on my arms that even doctors say is "normal" as my skin thins out with advancing years. Some would even think that Alzheimers and cancers are the norm now, and to be expected! We are becoming so manipulated by chemical giberish, both verbally and physically. I also agree that in order to eat healthier we have to eat simpler to afford the cleaner foods, but worth it, Amen?
    2208 days ago
    What can we do?
    At least two things are worth doing:
    Buying only organic/non-sprayed food and local if possible. This might mean that we have to eat much simpler to make this affordable, a lot more beans and rice and seeds, eating what's in season and growing our own veggies.
    I also recommend looking at the organization "Food and Water Watch" and supporting them.
    2208 days ago
    I think we are exposed to too many pesticides and other chemicals. I wish we didn't have to have so many poisons sprayed on our foods but what can we do?
    2208 days ago
    Great blog. I agree, don't mess with nature.
    I think we have no idea what we're getting ourselves into; it might very well be the beginning of the end. Let's make the best out of what is within our control. That's all we really can do.
    2208 days ago
    Love your post! Thank you for sharing... I'm interested in Wheat Belly, but not sure I'll be able to read it anytime soon.
    2208 days ago
    Amen! Scientist need to be controlled. Just because something CAN be done, doesn't mean it SHOULD be done.
    2209 days ago
    There is alot of value to your blog and nothing I wouldn't agree with, thank you.

    I could write a book about the hybridization and GMO destruction of our food sources making our children and ourselves sick, the planet destroyed and on and on and on.

    I buy only organic from trusted sources at my local co-op. I don't mind supporting them at all.

    It's time to turn this buggy around and regain our planet and clean it up. Personally I am focusing on starting with running Monsanto out of business. After that is voting with my fork and voting with my $$.
    2209 days ago
    Thank you for sharing what you have found! My grandparents were dairy farmers, and changing to organic dairy was something my dad and uncle weren't too sure about until I started showing them some of what I was seeing.

    I am seeing some impacts of wheat in my own body. When I eat bread, pasta, etc, I find that my weight is up the next day, I retain water, and have a lot of swelling in my ankles and wrists (probably other areas too, these are just most noticeable). I have tried a few things to rule out sodium and other culprits, and always come back to the wheat. So, I am working hard to eliminate wheat products from my diet.
    2209 days ago
    Thank you for all the wonderful and encouraging comments. The pictures are from the Palouse region in Eastern Washington and parts of Northern Idaho a bit south of Spokane.
    2209 days ago
    Great post. I recognize those wheat fields as the ones in the Palouse. Is that where you live? :)

    2209 days ago
    It's best not to fool with mother nature and eat food the way it was put here on earth in its most natural form.... this way we don't have to worry about the consequences of GMO and resulting disease. Thanks for educating us on this important issue.
    2209 days ago
    Thank you for such a wonderful post.
    2209 days ago
  • GLC2009
    i love how this book has affected you. and how this in turn is going to affect me and who knows who else. as i said in your last blog, i am reading 'good calories, bad calories' right now and then it will be my turn to read 'wheat belly'!!!

    keep up the blogs, you are being heard! emoticon
    2209 days ago
    Thanks for sharing all this information. All the issues people are having with gluten now makes more sense to me. However, I am from Iowa, home of Norman Borlaug, father of the green revolution who is created with saving over a billion people world wide from starvation.
    I don't think we can pin our problems with weight and obesity in this country on one variety of wheat. There are many intertwined issues.
    2209 days ago
    Great blog, very interesting, I actually suffer from celiac disease.
    2209 days ago
    I have also grown up with wheat farms all around us and know many great families who are great people. Your article is very interesting and given me pause to really give this more thought.

    Great blog, love the pictures, reminds me of Eastern Washington where we are!

    emoticon emoticon
    2209 days ago
    very interesting read. I agree, all of the tinkering with crops and animals in the name of profit comes with a price tag somewhere. It may not be unveiled for years but considering the level of disease and health problems, one cant tell me that our food chain at least partially is to blame.
    2209 days ago
    Again thank you for the insights....
    2209 days ago
    Great blog, very thought provoking.
    2209 days ago
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